How To Run America’s 25 Biggest Half Marathons

How To Run America's 25 Biggest Half Marathons

Runners on the Coney Island Boardwalk. (Courtesy NYRR)

Want to run one of the biggest half marathons in the U.S.? You’ve got to know when to sign-up.

Registration for the 2016 Airbnb Brooklyn Half opens Thursday, January 28 at noon ET. (I’m one of its race announcers.) It’s the largest half marathon in the U.S., and sells out quickly.

The Brooklyn Half is also one of the best deals out there: $65 for New York Road Runners members and $85 for non-members. For that you get a start at the Brooklyn Museum, the course through bucolic Prospect Park, and a finish on the iconic Coney Island Boardwalk, plus the incomparable Airbnb Brooklyn Half Pre-Party Presented by New Balance, which has re-imagined the race expo into something bigger and better—a party with munchies, music, and more. It is, without contest, the best race “expo” I’ve ever seen. And I don’t make that claim lightly. Then there’s the Airbnb Brooklyn Half After-Party in a baseball stadium. That’s some serious bang-for-your-buck.

Like the Airbnb Brooklyn Half, many of America’s biggest half marathons sell out before race day. So here’s how and when to register for the 25 biggest 13.1-milers in the U.S.

25 Biggest Half Marathons in the U.S.

1. Airbnb Brooklyn Half

New York
26,440 finishers in 2015
25,645 finishers in 2014
#5 among half marathons in the world in 2014
Next race: May 21, 2016
Registration: Opens January 28, 2016 at 12 p.m. ET. Typically sells out in a few hours. Entry via NYRR’s charity Team For Kids is available now.
Why Run? Brooklyn at its best, with a waterfront pre-party, stadium post-party, and course that highlights some of Brooklyn’s iconic landmarks with a finish on the Coney Island Boardwalk.

2. Nike Women’s Half Marathon

California
23,362 finishers in 2015
24,448 finishers in 2014
#8 among half marathons in the world in 2014
Next Race: The race is moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2016. Stay tuned for dates and more info.
Registration: Typically via lottery. More info coming on January 29, 2016.
Why Run? The world’s largest women-focused race has traditionally offered a Tiffany & Co. necklace in place of a finisher medal, plus stellar on-course support.

3. Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon

Nevada
23,100 finishers in 2015
25,227 finishers in 2014
#7 among half marathons in the world in 2014
Next Race: November 13, 2016
Registration: Not yet open. Get a reminder e-mail.
Why Run? Finish along the lit up Las Vegas Strip at night, with music every mile and a major headliner—think Kid Rock or Macklemore & Ryan Lewis—for your pre-race entertainment.

4. OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon

Indiana
22,466 finishers in 2015
25,524 finishers in 2014
#6 among half marathons in the world in 2014
Next Race: May 7, 2016
Registration: Open now
Why Run? Run a full lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway—2.5 miles of track—home of the Indianapolis 500, with 100 entertainment acts to keep you pumped all 13.1 miles.

5. Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Florida
21,495 finishers in 2015
20,243 finishers in 2014
#12 among half marathons in the world in 2014
Next Race: January 7, 2017
Registration: Opens April 26, 2016 at noon ET. Not a lottery, but the half marathon and all other weekend events sell out within a few weeks to a few months. Charity and tour provider entries will also be available.
Why Run? Part of the country’s largest running festival, you’ll journey from Epcot through Magic Kingdom and back as you rub elbows with Disney characters and runners dressed as them. Finish the half-marathon and marathon on back-to-back days and you’ll earn a special Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge medal. Run all four of the weekend’s adult races for the Dopey Challenge.

6. Disney Princess Half Marathon

Florida
20,214 finishers in 2015
20,770 finishers in 2014
#11 among half marathons in the world in 2014
Next Race: February 21, 2016
Registration: Sold out. Charity or travel provider entries might still be available. Registration for 2017 opens July 12, 2016. Race sells out quickly, within a few hours to a few days.
Why Run? 13.1 miles of magic. Costumed runners dash through Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom, finish through Epcot, and snap selfies with Disney characters along the way. Finish the 10K and half-marathon for a special Glass Slipper Challenge medal.

7. United Airlines NYC Half

New York
19,454 finishers in 2015
20,828 finishers in 2014
#10 among half marathons in the world in 2014
Next race: March 20, 2016
Registration: Lottery closed. Charity entries are available, including NYRR’s own Team For Kids. Lottery for 2017 will open in Fall 2016.
Why Run? Times Square shuts down just twice a year—once for New Year’s and once for the NYC Half. The race covers the island from Central Park to Harlem, through Times Square, along the Hudson River, and on down to Wall Street.

8. St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

Tennessee
18,380 finishers in 2015
19,149 finishers in 2014
#13 among half marathons in the world in 2014
Next race: April 30, 2016
Registration: Open now. Run for free with charity partner, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Why Run? Listen to country music at every mile as you run Music City.

9. Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington DC Half Marathon

Washington, D.C.
15,325 finishers in 2015
16,767 finishers in 2014
Next Race: March 12, 2016
Registration: Open now. Run for free with charity partner, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Why Run? Take in national landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial, White House, and Smithsonian Museum, while listening to music as you run America’s capital.

10. Disneyland Half Marathon

California
15,225 finishers in 2015
15,973 finishers in 2014
Next Race: September 4, 2016
Registration: Registration opens February 2, 2016 at 12 p.m. ET. The race and all weekend events typically sell out within a few hours. Charity and tour provider entries will also be available.
Why Run? Race through the Happiest Place on Earth, including Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland, Disney California Adventure Park, Angel Stadium, and the streets of Anaheim. Finish the 10K and half marathon to complete the Dumbo Double Dare.

11. Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Half Marathon

Pennsylvania
14,576 finishers in 2015
14,647 finishers in 2014
Next Race: May 1, 2016
Registration: Open now and typically sells out.
Why Run? Three rivers, five bridges, and city views are the draw at this steadily growing race. Plus, runners can win weekly prizes during training with MilestonePod, which tracks run data right from your shoe.

12. Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon

Pennsylvania
14,538 finishers in 2015
15,602 finishers in 2014
Next Race: September 18, 2016
Registration: Open now. Charity entries available with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Why Run? Widely considered one of the fastest, flattest courses on the East Coast, the Rock ‘n’ Philly Half features local music every mile. It doesn’t hurt that Philly is a fantastic food town for a fun weekend.

13. Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon

California
14,153 finishers in 2015
16,890 finishers in 2014
#15 in the world in 2014
Next Race: June 5, 2016
Registration: Open now. Run for free with charity partner, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The race has sold out in the past.
Why Run? San Diego’s biggest race is the flagship event in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, with music every mile, and a Finish Line Festival with a post-race concert.

14. Surf City USA Half Marathon

California
14,192 finishers in 2015
15,508 finishers in 2014
Next Race: February 7, 2016
Registration: Open now
Why Run? This flat and fast course takes runners from wet lands to wet sands in one of Southern California’s most iconic destinations—Hungtinton Beach. The surf board-shaped medal is pretty rad, too.

15. Detroit Free Press International Half Marathon

Michigan and Ontario
13,475 finishers in 2015
12,583 finishers in 2014
Next Race: October 16, 2016
Registration: Open now. Often sells outs.
Why Run? Cross the U.S.-Canadian border from downtown Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, over the Ambassador Bridge and through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. Yep, you must submit your passport or enhanced driver’s license info with your registration.

16. Miami Half Marathon

Florida
13,138 finishers in 2015
15,458 finishers in 2014
Next Race: January 29, 2017
Registration: Open now
Why Run? Flat and fun, the course has water views aplenty as runners tour Miami Beach, the Causeway, and Miami proper before a finish at Bayfront Park.

17. Tinker Bell Half Marathon

California
13,078 finishers in 2015
13,143 finishers in 2014
Next Race: May 8, 2016
Registration: Open now. Typically sells out before race day.
Why Run? You can fly, you can fly, you can fly through a pancake flat course that lines Disneyland and Disney California Adventure with Disney characters and the streets of Anaheim with bands and cheerleaders. Finish the 10K plus the half marathon for a special Pixie Dust Challenge medal.

18. Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon

Florida
12,890 finishers in 2015
11,971 finishers in 2014
Next Race: November 5, 2016
Registration: Opens March 15, 2016 at 12 p.m. ET. Typically sells out within minutes to hours. Charity and travel provider entries will be available.
Why Run? One of runDisney’s most popular races, the Wine & Dine Half takes off at 10 p.m., and wraps up with a Finish Line Party at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which keeps the park bumping until the wee hours just for runners and ticket holders.

19. Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Half Marathon

Georgia
12,170 finishers in 2015
10,639 finishers in 2014
Next Race: November 6, 2016
Registration: Open now. Race for free as a St. Jude Hero.
Why Run? The event puts charming Savannah on full display as runners tour manicured town squares, historic buildings and Spanish-moss-covered tree-lined streets.

20. Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Half Marathon

Texas
12,062 finishers in 2015
12,088 finishers in 2014
Next Race: December 4, 2016
Registration: Not yet open
Why Run? The biggest half marathon in Texas, Rock ‘n’ Roll takes runners past the highlights of San Antonio, including the Alamo and Brackenridge Park.

21. Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon

Illinois
12,033 finishers in 2015
13,865 finishers in 2014
Next Race: July 17, 2016
Registration: Open now
Why Run? Chicago is at its best in summertime, and the new scenic course for 2016 will let the city shine from Grant Park, through the Loop, and Museum Campus along the Lake Michigan waterfront.

22. Chevron Houston Half Marathon

Texas
11,651 finishers in 2015
10,542 finishers in 2014
Next Race: January 15, 2017
Registration: Guaranteed entries open May 5-31, 2016. General registration and charity entries open June 1, 2016 until they sell out, which they always do.
Why Run? The Houston Marathon is one of the 10 largest 26.2 milers in the U.S. Don’t want to go the distance? The half-marathon features the same great organization in half the distance.

23. Flying Pig Half Marathon

Ohio and Kentucky
11,529 finishers in 2015
11,196 finishers in 2014
Next Race: May 1, 2016
Registration: Open now
Why Run? Cruise through three cities in two states across two rivers. Take the 3-Way or 4-Way Challenge, named for Cincinnati’s famous Skyline Chili, by completing three or four of the weekend’s events in a row.

24. Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon

Arizona
11,313 finishers in 2015
13,442 finishers in 2014
Next Race: January 15, 2017
Registration: Not yet open. Get a registration e-mail reminder.
Why Run? The flat and fast loop course takes runners through Tempe and Scottsdale, including the Desert Botanical Garden, with a post-race concert too.

25. Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half Marathon

Washington
11,070 finishers in 2015
12,392 finishers in 2014
Next Race: June 18, 2016
Registration: Open now
Why Run? Seattle Weekly readers named Rock ‘n’ Roll the best race in the city for its good-weather June date, bands along the course, post-race concert, and course that takes runners from downtown Seattle to Lake Washington and the Puget Sound.

Statistics are pulled from Athlinks, the 2014 Running USA Annual Half Marathon Report, and individual race websites.

Join Karla's Running Adventures

Get registration reminders, race reports, reviews and more straight to your inbox!

Karla Bruning

About 

Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the Panasonic New York City Triathlon + regular contributor to Shape + Redbook online. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims, spoils her dog + travels compulsively.

28

01 2016

2 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    What a fun list! I’ve done 9 on the list so far and can’t wait to add a few more! Brooklyn, Flying Pig and Nike have been on my radar for awhile. One of these days I’ll check them off!
    Emily recently posted..Snow!!My Profile

    • Karla Bruning
      2

      I’ve done 7 of them, and so many more are on my bucket list. I’ve run (and worked) Brooklyn and run Nike. Both are excellent races! I’m excited to learn more about Nike LA and Atlanta.


1Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Disneyland Half Marathon 2016 Registration Opens | Run, Karla, Run! 01 02 16

Your Comment

CommentLuv badge