3 Must-Run California Spring Marathons

A guide to some of the best running events this season

While much of the country is still warming up throughout March and April, springtime brings ideal running conditions to coastal California, with days that linger in the 50’s and 60’s. If you’re looking for a few fun events this spring, here are some California marathons whose scenery, great organization and ideal climate will get your race season off to an ideal start.

Catalina Island Conservancy Marathon
Location: Catalina Island, California
Date: March 9
Races: Full marathon, 10k, 5k, Kids Run
Registration: Onsite or online.

For this race, you dock at the starting line—and that’s just the beginning of the fun. On this marathon across the Catalina Island Conservancy’s lands, you skip the paved roads and venture onto the rugged, historic course used many times since the event’s first year. Expect mountain and hill running through rugged terrain with beautiful vista views throughout the course.  When you’re finished, reward yourself with a relaxing day at one of Catalina’s yacht clubs or a glass-bottom boat cruise.

Big Sur International Marathon
Location: Big Sur, California
Date: April 28
Races: Full marathon, 21-miler, 9-miler-marathon relay, 5k and 3k
Registration: Normal registration is now full, but you can still secure a spot by fundraising for one of the event's charity partners. 

Run along this rugged area of California’s Central Coast to the sound of crashing waves. With the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Santa Lucia Mountains on the other, it’s easy to see why this area is a top tourist destination. As you run, expect to come across live music, such as harpists or even pianists. According to some competitors, the only downside is that you may need to dodge other runners who stop to take photos of the beautiful scenery.

Avenue of the Giants Marathon
Location: Eureka, California
Date: May 5
Races: Marathon, half marathon, 10k
Registration: Online or at the event. 

In this race, California’s sunshine is muted through the branches of ancient, 300-foot tall redwood trees. The cool air, scent of the forest and the sound of the trickling streams make this an ideal marathon for nature lovers. You'll want to bring your own food and drink to the finish, however. Runners complain that end-of-race amenities are slim.