14 Races If You Prefer Running at Night

Lace Up Your Shoes After the Sun Sets

Early morning race starts have been known to dampen the thrill of competition for even the most dedicated runner, a fact that's compounded when said runner happens to be a night owl. The truth is, morning races just aren't for everyone.

If the thought of stumbling out of bed and lacing up your shoes before 7:00 a.m. so you can voluntarily put your body through a significant amount of stress sounds about as fun as a voluntary root canal, then here's some good news: Morning races aren't the only option.

Races with an evening start time are growing in popularity, so go ahead and sleep in. Then mosey along to one of these great races that are perfect for those who prefer running at night.

Before You Hit the Road: Safety First

trail running at night
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Racing at night can be thrilling—the world is dark, and depending on the race setting, it can be quiet and serene—but it's not without risk. Clearly, when the sun goes down, the world goes dark, which makes it a whole lot harder to see the ground in front of you, and for the world to see you, too.

Brush up on general safety tips for running at night and make sure you're wearing reflective gear and a great headlamp. These items help you see and be seen—two key factors for preventing accidents and injuries. If you regularly run at night, it's very important to know the risks and how to ameliorate them.

Look for items, like the LumaGlo run belt, that feature 360-degree visibility with rechargeable LED lights and special flashing emergency lights, just in case you go down and need to be found. Even if the event you're competing in provides glow sticks or other bright paraphernalia, it's better to be safe than sorry, so it's a good idea to always wear your own gear.


Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Las Vegas

Rock n Roll Las Vegas

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Most Rock 'n' Roll Marathon events take place during the day, but not in Las Vegas, where the event's hashtag is the somewhat salty #StripAtNight. Even if you're not up for a full marathon, no worries. Race lengths include a 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon, all taking place under the bright lights and flashing signs of the Las Vegas strip. Most races start at dusk (4:30 p.m. for the half and full marathons).

"Despite its titillating name, runners are actually quite bundled up because it's November, it's dark outside, and it's cold," says Grace Albin, a personal trainer and fitness Instagrammer who has run the race twice. "Nevertheless, I love this race because the course is the famous Las Vegas strip. The city closes the road for runners, the spectators are fun, and the expo is well organized."


The Long Island Mile

The Long Island Mile is an event unlike any other on this list. For starters, the race is only 1 mile long, and it's run on a high school track—an excellent option if you're just testing the waters of formal racing. But more than that, it's an event that abuts a community race alongside an elite race featuring professional runners.

Community members toe up to the starting line for a 7:00 p.m. start time, and after they've completed their heat, they can stick around to watch the elite do their thing starting at 8:30 p.m.

Stephanie Schappert, an elite runner who participated in the event in 2016, says her favorite part is that each runner gets to create their own racing bibs. She and her sister have sported "Big Sis" and "Lil Sis" bibs to show their familial love (and maybe a little bit of sibling rivalry).


Maudie's Moonlight Margarita Run

If you like running, tacos, and margaritas (and really, who doesn't?), then it may be time to head to Central Texas to participate in the annual Maudie's Moonlight Margarita Run that takes place in downtown Austin in early June.

The race, which usually kicks off at 8 p.m., features an approachable 5K that winds along the streets bordering Lady Bird Lake. Following the event, runners enjoy margaritas and a dinner catered by Maudie's Tex-Mex. With live music and dancing encouraged, it's a fun way to kick off those hot summer nights.


Polar Night Half Marathon

Northern Lights
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If you're more interested in seeing a light show courtesy of Mother Nature, consider booking a trip to Norway for the Polar Night Half Marathon. The race takes place in Tromsø, a city situated above the arctic circle, so if the weather is clear, you have a decent chance of running under the Aurora Borealis, commonly known as the Northern Lights.

The race takes place in January, when it's dark pretty much all day long, so the afternoon start time isn't technically at night. But it's certainly not first thing in the morning. Keep in mind that you'll be racing in arctic conditions, so if you're not a fan of cold-weather running, you may want to choose a different race.


New York Road Runners Midnight Run

Instead of ringing in the new year in New York's Times Square, make plans to head to Rumsey Playfield in Central Park to celebrate New Year's Eve with a slew of fellow runners.

The pre-race festival for the Midnight Run starts at 10:00 p.m. with music and dancing, and a countdown is slated for 11:59. At the stroke of midnight, runners take off to complete the four-mile course, all the while enjoying a spectacular fireworks display.


Wings for Life World Run

The Wings for Life World Run is a simultaneous global running and wheelchair race that raises awareness and funds for spinal cord injury research. The premise of such a "simultaneous running event" is that everyone around the globe starts running the race at the exact same time.

When the clock strikes 11:00 a.m. UTC (that's coordinated universal time for the uninitiated), the proverbial starting gun goes off around the globe.

For most of the United States, 11:00 a.m. UTC translates to an early morning start time. Night owls on the West Coast might prefer just staying up until the 4:00 a.m. start.

Overseas? You're in luck. If your race is located in the same timezone as Singapore, you'd start at 7:00 p.m., Tokyo at 8:00 p.m., Sydney at 9:00 p.m., Auckland at 11:00 p.m., and Honolulu at 1:00 a.m. It may be worth planning a fitness-focused trip to Asia or Australia.


Insomniac Night Trail Run Series

Insomniac Midnight Trail Run Series
Insomnisac Trail Run Series

If you prefer trail running to road races, look no further than the Insomniac Night Trail Run Series in Phoenix, Arizona. Given the sweltering temperatures during the day, it makes sense for runners to enjoy the desert at night, something they can do a lot of as this race series starts in April and continues through November.

Races range in length from 5K to 75K and take place in parks around the region. If you're a diehard trail runner who lives in the area, you can opt to purchase a five-race pass to save a little money on entry fees.


Severn Bridge 5 Night Race

Looking for a great excuse to plan a trip to the UK? Look no further than the Severn Bridge 5 Night Race. This five-mile race takes you across the Severn Bridge, then back again, for a fairly straight-forward, well-lit, nighttime running event that's only about 3 hours west of London in Bulwark, Chepstow. The race begins at 7:30 p.m.


Night Nation Run

Glow sticks, DJs, electronic dance music, and a whole lot of dancing are what you can expect at the Night Nation Run events taking place all over the country.

While participants eventually complete a 5K distance, they're encouraged to stop at the musical venues along the course to enjoy the music and party with fellow runners. Events typically start at 6 p.m., with the first wave of the race starting at 8:30 p.m.

Each race starts and finishes at the main stage, where you're welcome to join the pre- and post-race parties with more live music and dancing.


Ragnar Relay Races

run ragnar

Okay, technically Ragnar races don't start at night, but these long-distance team relays run all day and all night until each team has covered 100 to 200 total miles.

If you're interested in teaming up with a group, opt for a later start time for your first leg, then take a nap in the van or at the campsite until it's your time to pound the pavement (or the trail).

If you're lucky and plan your legs correctly, you might be able to knock out most of your miles in the afternoon, evening, and late night hours.


Moonlight Madness Run

If you love running and car racing, then it's time to head to the Texas Motor Speedway for the Moonlight Madness Run. You can choose between a 5K and 15K distance, both of which take place in whole or in part on the famed race track and start at 8 p.m.

Once your running event is over, head to the pits to enjoy drinks and awards in a real-life NASCAR garage.


South Padre Sand Crab Beach Run

Road races and trail races are common, but have you ever run a race on constantly shifting sand? The South Padre Sand Crab Beach Run quite literally takes place on the beach, where runners can compete in a 5K, 10K, or kid-friendly mile-long course (which is run at 8 p.m.; the longer distances begin at 8:30 p.m.).

Post-race festivities include drinks and live music at a local bar, where you can kick back and listen to the waves rolling in.




Questival isn't a race in the traditional sense—it's more like a 24-hour adventure scavenger hunt that's a bit like the TV show, Amazing Race. Each 24-hour race starts at 5:00 pm with a fun-filled kick-off party, then continues for the next 24 hours as participating teams try to complete and document as many active challenges as possible, selecting activities from a list provided the day of the event.

Races take place all over the country, so you're bound to find one near you, or you could fly to a fun destination, like San Diego or Seattle, and enjoy a weekend with friends you'll never forget.


The Ramadan Night Run

Daytime workouts can be more challenging for athletes who participate in Ramadan, given that they fast from sunrise to sunset.

The Ramadan Night Runs, which take place in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, are a good alternative. Athletes can eat a little something before the races commence after 10:00 p.m., and fuel up afterward as well.

These races are a great incentive to travel the world and see a little of what Abu Dhabi has to offer.

A Word From Verywell

One thing to keep in mind when running at night is that even with headlamps and flashlights, it's still harder to discern variances in terrain. To avoid tripping or twisting an ankle, it's a good idea to cross train with balance training exercises and unilateral strength moves, such as single-leg deadlifts, lunges on a balance disc, or even slacklining. These types of exercises can help you keep your feet underneath you even if you catch a root or an edge of uneven concrete.

By Laura Williams, MSEd, ASCM-CEP
Laura Williams is a fitness expert and advocate with certifications from the American Council on Exercise and the American College of Sports Medicine.