There are few things more satisfying as a runner than setting out to run — and finish — a race. The constant reward of crushing training runs. The fun that goes hand-in-hand with picking up your bib and race T-shirt before the start. And of course, all those mid-stride photos, complete with sweat dripping down your face, that will last you a lifetime. But there’s one more thing that can amp up your next run: traveling to do it and vacationing afterward.
Not to knock your local 5K or half-marathon, but packing up and choosing a destination race brings a whole new level of excitement into play.
Here, we take a look at eight races worth traveling to:
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS HALF-MARATHON/5K
Date: September 7–8, 2018
Where: Townsend, Tennessee
If you’re into hiking and trail running, then choosing a race at a U.S. state park is idyllic. This pick, smack dab in the middle of the Smoky Mountains, takes runners along the Townsend Historical Trail. The course is cup-free (see ya later, disposable cup-plagued water stations), so each registrant gets a free hydrapouch to carry with them along the route.
Date: October 6, 2018
Where: Austin, Texas
You may never think of a 5K the same way again. At each kilometer, participants run through “foam bogs” that cover them in bubbles from head to toe. And at the finish, you’ll be greeted by a post-race DJ, even more foam and tons of free swag.
PARIS 20K RACE
Date: October 14, 2018
Where: Paris, France
Paris is the city for romance, so why not ignite your love for running alongside the Seine River? Enjoy picturesque views as you rack up the miles, starting and ending on the Pont d’lena, facing the Eiffel Tower. This year will be the race’s 40th running.
Date: October 21, 2018
Where: Detroit, Michigan
Tackle two destinations in one with this half-marathon course that traverses both downtown Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, crossing the border at both the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit-Windsor tunnel. Make sure to bring your passport along for the jog!
HEALDSBURG WINE COUNTRY HALF-MARATHON AND HALLOWINE 5K
Date: October 26–27, 2018
Where: Healdsburg, California
As if wine at the finish line wasn’t enough of an incentive, this race takes place right around Halloween — encouraging runners to dress up in costume to log miles. Best individual and group costumes get a prize (which may or may not be … wine).
LAS VEGAS ROCK ‘N’ ROLL 5K, 10K, HALF- AND FULL-MARATHON
Date: November 10–11, 2018
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
Run the Strip at night in this one-of-a-kind race that attracts participants from all over the globe. Runners also get all the deals throughout the race weekend — including hotel, Cirque Du Soleil, spa, nightclub and restaurant discounts.
INTERTRUST GRAND CAYMAN HALF-MARATHON/MARATHON
Date: December 2, 2018
Where: George Town, Cayman Islands
Tackle the Cayman Islands’ capital city of George Town, running alongside multi-million dollar homes and dazzling ocean views on this dreamy course. The fast, flat course attracts about 1,000 participants. Recover with protein-rich local fare like fresh lobster and conch (a local delicacy).
WALT DISNEY WORLD HALF-MARATHON
Date: January 9, 2019
Where: Orlando, Florida
Whether or not you’ve got kids to bring, running a race in the “happiest place on earth” while wearing a pair of Minnie Mouse ears has its perks. Say hello to Mickey, Goofy and the gang along your chosen route, as many runners choose to make pit stops for photo opps. Plus, you can expect some Disney-specific race bling; the one-of-a-kind medals are worth a spot on your mantel.