7 Under-the-Radar Fall Marathons and Half Marathons to Mark on Your Calendar
Now that you’ve got your plans down for your fall 5Ks, I thought we should take a minute to discuss your marathon and half marathon schedule for the next few months. I won’t waste my breath on the Philadelphia Marathon (November 23rd) and Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon (September 21st), since I’m assuming that if you don’t live under a rock, you already know these two big races are on the horizon. So I’m going to focus on upcoming half and full marathons you may not know about—ones that offer the same tough distances, but fewer crowds, good views and great courses.
Get your calendars ready, people.
Bucks County Marathon
Date: November 16th
Location: Washington Crossing Historic Park in Washington Crossing, PA
Cost: $95 through September 14th, then jumps to $100. It’s $125 to register on race day, if the race hasn’t sold out.
This Boston-qualifier race is an out-and-back along the Delaware Canal State Park towpath trail. You have views of the water pretty much the entire way, and much of the race is on packed dirt (there are a few short paved sections and, interestingly, a flight of stairs just past the eight-mile mark). The race is capped at 500 participants. If you can’t swing it on the 16th, there will be a half marathon—the Delaware Canal Half Marathon—on the towpath the day before.
Runner’s World Half Marathon
Date: October 19th
Location: Bethlehem, PA
There are a few perks to living so darn close to the headquarters of the biggest running magazine in the industry. The Runner’s World Half takes you through Bethlehem’s historic neighborhoods, Moravian College, and the former Bethlehem Steel Complex, with three challenging hills—including one that’s a half-mile climb at mile 5—along the way. The entire weekend is one giant running festival, with expert talks, editor meet-and-greets and more.
Deja Vu Relay Marathon
Date: November 8th
Location: Parkside Place Park in North Wales, PA
Cost: $40 for the relay, $45 for the half marathon, $65 for the full marathon; prices increase on September 19th.
If you’re intrigued by the marathon distance but aren’t up to tackle the whole thing yourself, this is a good opportunity to test the waters. The course is a flat one-mile loop to be completed 26 times, so teams of two to five runners can tackle the distance together, switching off every couple of laps (the first runner makes up the extra 0.2 miles). And because the course is a loop, there’s water, music and cheering every mile. While the race is primarily geared toward relay racers, there are a limited number of slots available for solo runners, too.
Run for the Buds Half Marathon
Date: October 18th
Location: Wilmington, DE
Cost: $50 to preregister, or $60 on race day.
This race, which benefits the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware, features segments in scenic Rockford Park, residential Wilmington neighborhoods, and historic Brandywine Park, and includes wooded trails, paved roads, hills and even a wood foot-bridge crossing.
Trenton Half Marathon
Date: November 8th
Location: Trenton, NJ
I’m fairly certain you’ve never explored Trenton before, so this is the perfect excuse. The course takes you along the Delaware and through residential neighborhoods, with live entertainment along the way. You’ll cross two bridges, run in two states and finish by crossing home plate at the Trenton Thunder baseball stadium. Best part: There’s hardly a hill in sight.
Jersey Shore Half Marathon
Date: October 5th
Location: Sandy Hook, NJ
This race is about as hometown as you can get. The entry fee is reasonable, the field is relatively small, and the race just has that small-town, friendly feel to it. It’s a flat, fast course—you’ll run two loops total—contained in the Sandy Hook portion of Gateway National Park. Runners get finisher’s medals and shirts.
Date: October 26th
Location: Pennypack Park in Philly
Cost: $55 until September 28th, $65 after
A half marathon in pretty, wooded Pennypack Park, where lederhosen is encouraged. Need we say more?
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