Running a Half Marathon or Marathon in All 50 United States? Here are the Races in States that I Recommend

Thanks to some suggestions by regular followers, I’ve compiled a list of half marathons (most of which have marathons or other distances as well) in states that I’ve personally raced in. So far I’ve run 46 half marathons in 44 states so while my race history isn’t complete (sorry Delaware, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, New Mexico, and Minnesota), it’s pretty close to the full list. I’ll do an update when I get further along (maybe up to 47 states and again at 50 states).

I’m not going to list races that I either don’t recommend or races I ran that no longer exist. If you have a specific question about a state or race not listed here, feel free to ask. I realize recommendations are based on opinions, which means while I may not have enjoyed a race, perhaps someone else would like it and vice versa. Still, I feel like by now I have a pretty good feel for “good” races. Also, while not all of these races come recommended on Bibrave by people other than myself (yes, I checked each and every one of them) the vast majority of them are recommended on Bibrave (I think only maybe two on my list here were not reviewed on Bibrave). Finally, I’ll list them in order of when I ran them, not in order of personal preference. I’ll link to the race site first then to my blog post.

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Hawaii- Kona Marathon, Half Marathon. My post is here: Kona Marathon and Half Marathon, Hawaii-2nd state. You can see it was only the second state I ran a half marathon in, before I even had the goal of running a half marathon in every state. My notes aren’t the greatest because it was so long ago and all I have to go on is the scrap book I started keeping for races. I think the fact that they’re having the 26th annual race in June 2019 says something. You’re basically running through paradise.

South Carolina- Kiawah Island Marathon and Half Marathon. My post is here:  Kiawah Island Marathon and Half Marathon, South Carolina-4th state. This is a race that came recommended to me by other people who had run it a couple of times and raved about it. Now entering its 42nd year, this race doesn’t disappoint. Although there are sometimes some strong winds, this seems to vary from one year to the next. It’s one of the best winter half marathons in my opinion.

Vermont– Covered Bridges Half Marathon. My post is here:  Covered Bridges Half Marathon, Vermont-9th state. Beware if you want to run this race which is the first Sunday in June, it sells out in a mere minutes when race registration opens online due to the race cap. It’s hugely popular for a reason. Even though I ran it so many years ago, this is still one of my favorite races ever.

Indiana– Evansville Half Marathon. My post is here:  Evansville Half Marathon, Indiana-13th state. Where is Evansville you may ask? It’s a small quintessential midwest town along the Ohio River in southern Indiana, about 2 hours from Louisville, Kentucky. I found a fun vibe to this race and absolutely loved it. Sure, I could have run the bigger race in Indianapolis but I doubt it would have had the same small-town vibe this one does, which I appreciate.

Michigan– Bayshore Marathon and Half Marathon. My post is here:  Traverse City Bayshore Marathon and Half Marathon, Michigan-15th state. This is another race that came recommended to me by other runners and it did not disappoint. It’s also a race with caps on runners which means it tends to sell out early.

Kansas– Garmin Marathon and Half Marathon. My post is here:  Garmin Marathon, Kansas-18th state. Good course on the border of Kansas and Missouri. As expected, Garmin puts on a great race and the race just seems to get better every year. The food is spectacular in Kansas City so it’s worth coming here just for that. Some of the other races in this area can be super hilly, and this one is not, which is another reason I chose this race.

Wisconsin– Madison Mini Marathon. My post is here:  Madison Mini-Marathon, Wisconsin-19th state. Yes it will be a hot one since it’s in August. As long as you know that going into it and don’t worry about getting a PB you’ll be fine. Stay for the post-race party!

Montana- Missoula Marathon and Half Marathon. My post is here:  Missoula Marathon, Montana-22nd state. Don’t just take my word for it; this race was chosen as number one on the Bibrave 100 in 2018. Be prepared for a chilly race start and bring layers especially if you’re a southerner then enjoy the scenery!

Alabama– Kaiser Realty Coastal Half Marathon. My post is here:  Kaiser Realty Coastal Half Marathon, Alabama-23rd state. Scenic, flat race held on Thanksgiving weekend. Some of the best post-race food I’ve ever had at a race.

Virginia– Shamrock Marathon and Half Marathon. My post is here:  Shamrock Marathon, Virginia-24th state. This is one fun race with tons of swag and very well organized. Don’t let the fact that it’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend deter you if you’re not a big partier. Although you may hear some people on the streets the night before the race like I did, I didn’t find it to be a big deal. If you are a partier, you’ll have a great time! Just be sure to book your hotel well in advance because it’s a big race and many places sell out.

Rhode Island– Newport Marathon and Half Marathon. My post is here:  Newport Marathon, Rhode Island- 26th State. Honestly, I don’t know how there aren’t any reviews for this race on Bibrave. Maybe because it’s in October and that doesn’t work for some people’s schedules or maybe because it’s in tiny little under-rated Rhode Island. Whatever the reason, I really enjoyed this race and recommend it.

Maine– Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon. My post is here:  Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon, Maine, 31st state. Yes, it’s hot and yes, it’s hilly but the course is beautiful. Just go into it knowing you won’t PR unless you kill it at hot and hilly races. Do lots of hill repeats when you’re training for this race. I highly recommend working in some extra days after the race to check out the beautiful state of Maine.

Maryland– Frederick Running Festival. My post is here:  Frederick Half Marathon, Maryland- 33rd state. One of the best-organized races I have run. Beautiful course with nice swag. Early May in this part of Maryland (about an hour from Washington, D.C.) is a great time of year to run a race.

South Dakota– Spearfish Canyon Half Marathon. My post is here:  Spearfish Canyon Half Marathon, South Dakota- 34th state. This is one of my favorite half marathons ever. It’s a low-key race without much swag but one of the most scenic and fastest courses I’ve run. Fly into Rapid City, which is about an hour away, and drive your rental car all over South Dakota after the race. Just be sure you stay close-by the night before the race.

West Virginia– Marshall University Marathon and Half Marathon. My post is here:  Marshall University Half Marathon, West Virginia- 41st state. I grew up in West Virginia and went to undergraduate school there (though not at Marshall University) so I’m pretty familiar with the state. I was extremely happy with my choice to run this race for my race in West Virginia and highly recommend it. Running on the university’s football field at the finish with a football that I could keep was so much fun!

Idaho– Famous Idaho Potato Marathon and Half Marathon. My post is here:  Famous Potato Half Marathon, Idaho-42nd state. Gorgeous race through a canyon at the start with the finish in beautiful Boise. How can you go wrong with a potato bar at the end of a race? Seriously, this one ranks pretty high on my list.

Arkansas– White River Marathon and Half Marathon. My post is here:  White River Half Marathon, Cotter, Arkansas-44th state. This was an extremely fast course. Admittedly Cotter isn’t not the easiest place to get to but just fly into Little Rock, Arkansas; Springfield, Missouri; or Branson, Missouri (compare prices) and get a rental car. This is a small, low-key race with tons of post-race food and some of the friendliest people you’ll meet. If you’re into race bling, the medal is enormous and race shirt is nice.

Iowa- IMT Des Moines Half Marathon. My post is here: IMT Des Moines Half Marathon, Des Moines, Iowa- 49th state. I ran my fastest half marathon ever at this race, and I loved all of the details the race director added. The course was full of iconic parts of Des Moines, the weather was perfect, and the post-race party and food were epic. This was one of my favorite races ever.

Runner-up:  North Dakota– Bismarck Marathon and Half Marathon. My post is here:  Bismarck Marathon, North Dakota-16th state. Why a runner-up you may ask? Well, to be completely honest, I didn’t care for Bismarck or the parts of North Dakota that we saw. I found the race to be pretty average; not bad per se but nothing special either. For those reasons, I’ll include it here. Like I said in my post on the race (link above), if you happen to find yourself in Bismarck and would like to knock off a race in North Dakota, this one’s not a bad one. Or, if you’re a 50-stater and need to run a race in North Dakota, this one will fit the bill.

Yes, there are several states not included here. As I said, some of the races I ran no longer exist and those that are still around are ones that I wouldn’t recommend. Have a question about a specific state and/or race? Feel free to ask! Have a comment about a particular state and/or race? Please share your thoughts!

Happy running!



Author: runningtotravel

I'm a long distance runner with a goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states in the US. I also love to travel so I travel to other places when I'm not running races. Half the fun is planning where I'm going to go next!

23 thoughts on “Running a Half Marathon or Marathon in All 50 United States? Here are the Races in States that I Recommend”

  1. My favorite in Texas is the Cowtown Marathon at the end of February. My wife has ran in several states, and she says the Cowtown is her favorite. It’s well organized, has an interesting course, and has lots of goodies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s good info to pass along. The race I ran in Texas in San Antonio no longer exists but it was a good one and I enjoyed it. It seems it was replaced by a Rock n’ Roll series. Too bad some of these smaller races are being replaced by big productions. I personally enjoy smaller to medium races.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. YAY! Love this post and definitely will keep these races in mind! I also ran the same halves for VT and RI and can vouch that both are AWESOME! Rhode Island actually has another in Newport in April (put on my Rhode Races. I’ve run a bunch of their races and they always have been well done!) that uses the same course! That Newport course might be my absolute favorite!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great resource! I’m not one to usually race on vacation but I think the covered bridges one in Vermont sounds worth considering. Which half did you run in Pennsylvania? Just curious since that’s my state!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The race in Vermont is wonderful and so well-done. If you want to get away but not too terribly far it would be a great one for you. It was my first experience with the New England states and I fell in love with the area then. I ran the Philadelphia Distance Run in 2004, way back before I even had the goal of a race in every state. Funny side-note on that race (which doesn’t exist any longer) I heard Bart Yasso mention once that he also ran that race and it was one of his favorites. Sadly (in my opinion) it’s been replaced by a Rock n’ Roll series race.


  4. That’s a good list. For North Dakota, I recommend Fargo. Great fans out there cheering at every corner. Relatively close to Minneapolis too so you can do something in the Twin Cities and make a trip out of it. Minnesota is a nice state to drive through but ND is flat and barren.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I was debating heavily between Bismarck and Fargo when I chose my race for North Dakota. Your point about Fargo being close to Minneapolis is a great one too that I wish I would have thought of then.


  5. You and I only have a few races in common. My experience at Frederick, MD was vastly different than yours. The year I ran it (12-ish years ago), organization was a complete mess and the course was uninspired, to say the least. A lot of it was in an industrial park. Ugh! Spearfish is at the very top of my travel list. I did the all-women’s marathon there (Leading Ladies) and absolutely loved the destination and the race. Also did the Bayshore marathon in Traverse City, which I loved too. Thanks for compiling this list. It is very helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love this! I’m going to have to go back and check out your race posts for ideas. Btw, I ran the Frederick Half Marathon, too! It was my very first half marathon, and state number 1/50 for me! I enjoyed it. I liked the course and thought it was well-organized.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just checked your races and it’s amazing we don’t have more overlap than we do. We’ve run in the same city several times but hardly ever the same races. There are just so many races now it’s incredible (and mostly a good thing for runners) plus several races are only around for a few years.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, there really are a lot to choose from, which like you said, is great! I still have 25 more states to go, so I’ll have to browse your recaps to see if there are any others we can overlap. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for this rundown of your races. I have run several of the same. Just less states at this time. As for me I do marathons so my progress is slow. I have some reviews on race I wish good luck and Godspeed.

    Liked by 1 person

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