Must-Run Summer Races

Must-Run Summer Races

Lake Tahoe Marathon— September 11-14 (South Lake Tahoe, CA)

Most Lake Tahoe Marathon runners are from out of town, which is why race organizers advise that participants arrive early (as in, a few days early) so they can acclimate to the altitude. The three-day-long race series is host to several different events. In addition to the marathon runners also have the option to race a double marathon, 72 ultra, 20-miler, half marathon, relay, or 10K. And if you’re not into moving about by land you can opt to hop in the water for a 5-mile kayak or swim.

Mayor's Midnight Sun Run Marathon— June 21 (Anchorage, AK)

The Midnight Sun Marathon starts at 8 a.m. sharp (and the half marathon at 9 a.m.), but the bright Alaskan sun will be up well before then. Midnight Sun runners can expect a 4:21 a.m. sunrise on race day, and the best part is that it won’t set until long after you’ve finished running. With 19 hours and 22 minutes of daylight you’ll have plenty of time post-race to enjoy all of Alaska under the warm summer sunlight.

Bacon Chase— July 19 (Minneapolis, MN)

If unlimited amounts of bacon waiting for you at the finish line can’t get you to finish a 5K then we don’t know what will. (Kidding!) Actually, you don’t even have to run the entire course to earn entitlement to the endless amounts of ham. Choose between a 5K or 0.05K course and at the end of each enjoy the bacon-filled festivities including “bacon boats,” one free Bloody Mary, and a signature Bacon Chase T-shirt.

Chicago Marathon— October 12 (Chicago, IL)

OK, fine. This is technically an early fall race, but since October usually offers ideal running weather and runners tend to rave about the event, we couldn't help but leave a spot for it on our list. Marathons are often measured by the amount of spectators and their enthusiasm. After all, if you want to run 26.2 miles you’ll need all the support you can get, and The Chicago Marathon is known for having a top-notch cheer section.  “The crowd support is incredible—the course is very spectator friendly—and it truly feels like a 26.2-mile party. No headphones necessary,” says Angela Barraco, who raced the course in 2013 and blogs about running on her site Runner in Denial. “I’m actually upset I won’t be running it again this year,” she said.

Fifth Avenue Mile Presented by Nissan— September 13 (New York, NY)

Once a year New York City’s 5th Avenue is closed off to cars and opened up to runners for a momentous mile-long race. Speedsters and recreational runners alike are invited to sprint down the 20-block stretch of urban concrete starting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and finishing near Grand Army Plaza. A New York tradition for more than 30 years, this short but sweet event makes for some great city sightseeing.

5K Brew Run + Fest— June 14 (Stowe, VT)

The Craft Brew race series is exactly what it sounds like; a slew of summer races centered around local craft beer festivals. Race the 5K course at 12 p.m. and down your first beer not long after crossing the finish line. The series will host several New England based races throughout the summer starting in New Hampshire this May, but we think a fun summer run through Stowe followed by a brew fest at the The StoweFlake Mountain Resort sounds especially like the perfect way to spend a fine June day.

Mackinac Island 8-Miler— September 6 (Mackinac Island, MI)

Mackinac Island is a quaint 3.7-square-mile land mass located between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. It also happens to be about 8 miles in circumference, which means its outer edge trails make for the perfect mid-distance summertime race setting. On this flat and fast course, runners can expect to enjoy views of the island’s boat harbor, charming Victorian homes, and plenty of coastal scenery including the Mackinac Bridge, neighboring islands, and historic rock formations.

Lidingöloppet— September 26- 28 (Sweden)

The longest and largest cross-country race in the world, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Lidingöloppet race series, which most famously features a 30km course but also offers runners a handful of other race types to choose from. Although it’s considered a demanding course, race organizers invite runners of every level to participate in the exciting event promising that it will be “one of the most motivating challenges you'll ever do.”

San Francisco Marathon— July 27 (San Francisco, CA)

Thanks to the city’s notoriously hilly terrain this isn’t considered a PR-friendly race, but runners still sing its praises thanks to waterfront views, an opportunity to run across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and more often than not, extremely ideal race-day weather. One reviewer called it a “highlight of [their] marathoning career.”

Summerfest Rock n' Sole Series— June 14 (Milwaukee, WI)

Spanning over 11 days and with more than 800 performers, Milwaukee’s Summerfest is the world’s largest live music festival, which means the summertime race series that shares its name has a lot to live up to. But with a course that offers views of the city’s best landmarks, like Lake Michigan and an awe inspiring city skyline, there’s no doubt that it delivers. Plus, the post-race party features live music (guess that’s a given) and refreshments, and all participants get one free general admission ticket to Summerfest that can be used anytime over the course of the event. (Half marathon, quarter marathon and 5K race distances are available, too.)

Rio de Janeiro Marathon— July 27 (Brazil)

July is considered a winter month in Rio but that doesn’t mean runners shouldn’t expect warm temperatures on race day. And if you can take the heat, this is a bucket list type race that most past participants agree is well worth the trip to South America. “The first 13 miles is one straight line following the coast," one runner wrote on “[I’ve] never seen so many mile markers go by with my head turned to the right just soaking it in.”

GO Play! 5K— June 14 (Denver, CO)

On June 14 Get Outdoors Colorado and the US Forest Service will celebrate the seventh annual National Get Outdoors Day with its first ever GO Play! 5K fun run. The course features an outdoor adventure obstacle course within the first kilometer and a day-long, post-race celebration of all things outdoors, climbing, biking, fishing, paddling, health education, music, dancing, food trucks, and more.​

Wounded Warrior Project 8 Mile

The Wounded Warrior Project’s mission is simple: “To honor and empower Wounded Warriors.” This year their 8K race series features events in San Antonio, TX, Franklin, TN, and Jacksonville, FL, all of which aim to raise money for the organization and the programs it provides to wounded service members and their families. Registration for the Jacksonville race opens on May 1 and discounts are provided to active duty military members, military family members, and students.