Jay Nunn

Mostly Travel

Jay Nunn

Bucket List Running Events and Destination Races

Running is one of my favorite ways to explore a city, and a running race is one of my favorite excuses to visit. The atmosphere in the city tends to be a little livelier on race weekend; the populous and visitors alike making the most of the crowds and energy. So go ahead and find a city, book a race, and book a hotel (make your lodging arrangements early–the most expensive hotel room I have ever booked was in Key West during the half marathon). Sightseeing shakeout runs and carb loading are great pre-race activities, and definitely plan to spend some time relaxing, eating, and drinking after the race is over. These are a few of my all-time favorite races in multiple distances and a couple (*) I’m excited to run this year. What’s missing from this list?


NYC Marathon

New York, NY, USA // November // nyrr.org // The best city in the world on its best day of the year. The course hits all five boroughs, crosses two iconic bridges, and finishes in Central Park, but it’s the 50,000 runners and 1 million spectators that make this such a special race.

On My Marathon To-Do List:

LondonBoston, Berlin, Chicago, Tokyo


Relay Races

Hood to Coast Relay

Portland, OR, USA // August // HoodToCoastRelay.com // The Mother of all Relays has earned its reputation as a marquee running event. Every year 1000 teams of 6-12 runners pile into vans and relay from Mt. Hood, through Portland, to Seaside across beautiful rural Oregon.

The Speed Project

Los Angeles to Las Vegas, USA // March // Instagram // An absolutely insane 340-mile unsanctioned, unsupported race from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. If the prospect of running through Death Valley and spending 40+ hours in an RV with other fatigued and sleep-deprived runners doesn’t sound appealing, an intense competitive camaraderie among teams and an epic pool after-party more than makes up for the hardships.

On My Relay To-Do List:

Ville to Ville, Bourbon Chase


Half Marathons

NYC Half Marathon

New York, NY, USA // March // nyrr.org // More great New York running at a more enjoyable distance than a full marathon! The NYC Half is one of only two days throughout the year that Times Square is closed to traffic, and the new course starting at Prospect Park

Key West Half Marathon

Key West, FL, USA // January // KeyWestHalfMarathon.com // Expect lots of costumes and glorious Key West irreverence. The pancake-flat course is fun and fast (if the weather cooperates), and this town definitely takes its post-race celebrations seriously. Get your hotel and dinner reservations booked early, though; the island hits capacity quickly.

Pyongyang Half Marathon

Pyongyang, North Korea // April // UriTours.com // One of the most surreal and memorable running events I have ever participated in. The trip to North Korea was a fascinating glimpse into the propaganda machine, but the race itself–from high-fiving kids along the race course to finishing the race in front of 50,000 spectators–was unlike any other race I have ever participated in.

Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon*

Sonoma, CA, USA // July // MotiveRunning.com // Incredible scenery, lots of wine, and a great excuse (as if you needed one) to spend some time touring California wine country. Also, lots of wine.

Seawheeze Half Marathon*

Vancouver, BC, Canada // September // seawheeze.com // Lululemon’s flagship running event is more of a multi-day fitness, mindfulness, and good-times retreat. Group yoga events and dance parties bookend a race along the incredible Vancouver coastline.

On My Half Marathon To-Do List:




Cooper River Bridge Run

Charleston, SC, USA // April // BridgeRun.com // The Holy City gets a little more hedonistic as 30,000 runners finish a 10k and start celebrating by about 9am. April is a perfect time to visit Charleston, and there’s no shortage of great food and great things to do.

On My 10k To-Do List:

Peach Tree Road Race, Bolder BoulderBay to Breakers (12k)


2 Replies to “Bucket List Running Events and Destination Races”

  • Nice list! I’d love to do the 10K/12Ks on you listed too. Favorite marathons I’d recommend if you haven’t done them: Big Sur (for amazing views), Marine Corps (for the inspiration feels), Revel Canyon City (to fly downhill to a PR), and of course Los Angeles (fast, fun, local).

    • Great suggestions! I’m doing Monterey Bay Half again this year, which is also very scenic, but I haven’t done Big Sur proper. And if I ever REALLY get the marathon bug again, those will all be on the short list!

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