9 Awesome Summer Marathons in the U.S.

Fun Destinations to Run 26.2 Miles

Many runners have more time to travel to race destinations in the summer months. But it can be tough to find marathons in July, August, and early September. Spring and fall are more popular seasons for U.S. marathons since the weather is more comfortable for distance running.

But if hot-weather running is your thing, you still have plenty of races to choose from. So how do you find the best summer marathons? There are some worthwhile races out there if you’re willing and able to travel. Check out this list of unique and exciting places to run or walk 26.2 miles this summer.

Missoula Marathon

Runner in Missoula

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Where: Missoula, Montana
When: Late June to early July
Why run this summer marathon: The Missoula Marathon starts early so runners get to watch a spectacular sunrise from behind the mountains as they run through the scenic Montana countryside. The course finishes in historic downtown Missoula, giving runners a tour of the beautiful and unique area. With a cap of 1,500 participants, this race is perfect for runners seeking a rural, community-supported marathon with beautiful scenery. And with a 7.5-hour course limit, it’s also walker-friendly.

San Francisco Marathon

marathon over bridge
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Where: San Francisco, Calif.
When: Mid to late July
Why Do It: The San Francisco Marathon takes race participants on a scenic tour of the city’s natural beauty and famous landmarks, from the Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharf in the first half of the race to gorgeous Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury district and the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park in the second half. A highlight for most runners is crossing San Francisco's famous Golden Gate Bridge. Of course, there are some hills, but you won’t be running any of the ridiculously steep hills the city is known for. San Francisco is the perfect destination for a summer marathon, as the city’s typical July weather is typically mild, dry, and cool.

Crater Lake Rim Marathon

Crater Lake

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Where: Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
When: Mid August
Why Do It: One of the most picturesque marathon courses in the U.S., the Crater Lake Rim Marathon is run along the rim of majestic Crater Lake. You'll be challenged by the rugged mountains, with altitudes ranging from 5,980 to 7,850 feet above sea level, but be seriously rewarded with breathtaking views.

Pikes Peak Marathon

Manitou Springs

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Where: Manitou Springs, Colorado
When: Late August
Why do it: If you assume that the Pikes Peak Marathon is difficult based on its name, you’re absolutely correct. The race is so physically challenging that race organizers don’t just let anyone attempt it.

To qualify, you must have completed a half-marathon or longer race in under 2:25:00 or a marathon or longer race in under 6:00:00. But if you make the cut and are up for the challenge, the difficult ascent to the top and running at high altitude are worth the breath-taking (literally) views, unique experience, and ​a lifetime of bragging rights.

The race begins and finishes in Manitou Springs, but the majority of the course is run on Barr Trail in Pike National Forest. The first half of the course has an elevation gain (start to summit) of 7,815 feet. Once runners reach the summit of Pikes Peak, they turn around and head back down to the finish.

Santa Rosa Marathon

Santa Rosa

 

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Where: Santa Rosa, Calif.
When: Late August
Why do it: The Santa Rosa Marathon allows runners to experience all the beauty of California wine country on a flat, fast course. Participants start and finish in picturesque Juilliard Park after looping the entire length of the scenic Santa Rosa Creek Greenway. Race entry includes a 3/4 zip jacket, a full bottle of De Loach wine, and a post-race festival complete with pancakes, a free glass of beer or wine, and watermelon.

Lehigh Valley Health Network Via Marathon

Allentown PA

 

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Where:  Allentown, Penn.
When: Early September
Why do it:  Designed by Bart Yasso, the Chief Running Officer at Runner’s World, the Via Marathon runs along the Lehigh River, and also passes through the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, known for its history and natural beauty. With a net elevation drop of 240 feet, the race is one of the fastest marathons in the U.S. The race is scenic, shady, well-marked, and not crowded, making it a great course on which to qualify for Boston or run a PR. 

Sioux Falls Marathon

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

 

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Where: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
When: Early September
Why do it: The Sioux Falls Marathon route is a loop course that takes you on a scenic 26.2-mile journey around Sioux Falls. You’ll experience the city’s historic downtown, Falls Park, the Sioux Falls River Greenway, and its award-winning trail alongside the banks of the Big Sioux River.

Air Force Marathon

Dayton OH

 

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Where: Dayton, Ohio
When: Mid to late September
Why do it: If you’re looking for a smaller, fast, and well-organized marathon with plenty of inspiration and support along the way, the Air Force Marathon may be an option for you. From the pre-race pasta dinner at the Air Force Museum​ to running through an Air Force base, to the Air Force personnel handing out medals at the finish line, the race offers numerous opportunities to appreciate and honor the military.

Quad Cities Marathon

Moline

 

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Where: Moline, Ill.
When: Late September
Why do it: The Quad Cities Marathon course features one of the finest, most scenic river views in the country. It covers four cities, three bridges, two states, and one island, all along the mighty Mississippi River. Race weekend offers something for everyone. Along with the marathon, there's a half marathon, marathon relay, 5K, Pump n Run, one-mile walk, and even a micro-marathon for the kids.

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