The Fab 50 – The Best Non-Marathon Race in each State


If you’ve been in the running world for a while, you’ve probably heard of the 50 States Marathon Club. This club is for people who have run a marathon in each of the 50 states. During John’s Running Vacation this past weekend, one of our campers mentioned the brilliant idea of doing the same thing with a twist. She proposed a “non-marathon” in each state. In light of her idea, I have compiled a list of the top non-marathon in each state. While there is no 50 States Non-Marathon Club just yet, this list might spawn a few interesting vacation opportunities and, of course, some great running experiences.

This list is based the quality of the race, the experience, and some points for interesting venues or awards. Share and post your suggestions to help us update this list!

State Race Distance Location
Alabama Cotton Row Run 10km Huntsville, AL
Alaska Alaska 10km Classic 10km Anchorage, AK
Arizona Pat’s Run 4.2-mile Tempe, AZ
Arkansas Bentonville Running Festival Half Marathon Bentonville, AR
California Big Sur Half Marathon Half Marathon Carmel, CA
Colorado Bolder Boulder 10km Boulder, CO
Connecticut Manchester Road Race* 4.748-mile Manchester, CT
Delaware Caesar Rodney Half Half Marathon Wilmington, DE
Florida Gate River Run 15km Jacksonville, FL
Georgia Peachtree Road Race* 10km Atlanta, GA
Hawaii XTERRA Kualoa Ranch@ Half Marathon Oahu, HI
Idaho Teton Dam Half Half Marathon Rexburg, ID
Illinois Steamboat Classic 4-mile Peoria, IL
Indiana One America 500 Festival Half Marathon Indianapolis, IN
Iowa Bix 7 7-mile Davenport, IA
Kansas Big 12 5k 5k Kansas City, KS
Kentucky The Iron Horse Half Marathon Midway, KY
Louisiana Crescent City Classic 10km New Orleans, LA
Maine Beach to Beacon 10km Cape Elizabeth, ME
Maryland Celtic Solstice 5-miler 5-mile Baltimore, MD
Massachusetts Falmouth Road Race 7-mile Falmouth, MA
Michigan Brückeläufe: The Bridge Race Half Marathon Frankenmuth, MI
Minnesota Garry Bjorklund Half Half Marathon Duluth, MN
Mississippi Gum Tree 10K 10km Tupelo, MS
Missouri Trolley Run 4-mile Kansas City, MO
Montana Missoula Marathon Half Marathon Missoula, MT
Nebraska The Lincoln Mile 1 Mile Lincoln, NE
Nevada Battle of the Rattle @ 5k Reno, NV
New Hampshire Mt Washington Road Race 7.6-mile Gorham, NH
New Jersey Belmar 5 5-mile Belmar, NJ
New Mexico La Luz @ 9-mile Albuquerque, NM
New York Emerald Nuts Midnight Run* 4-mile New York City, NY
North Carolina The Bear 5-mile Linville, NC
North Dakota Scheels FarGo (…uffda) 10km Fargo, ND
Ohio Thanksgiving Day Race* 10km Cincinnati, OH
Oklahoma Tulsa Run 15km Tulsa, OK
Oregon Shamrock Run* 15km Portland, OR
Pennsylvania Blue Cross Broad Street Run 10-mile Philadelphia, PA
Rhode Island CVS Caremark 5km 5km Providence, RI
South Carolina Cooper River Bridge Run 10km Charleston, SC
South Dakota Crazy Horse Half Half Marathon Hill City, SD
Tennessee Crazy 8’s 8km Kingsport, TN
Texas Austin 3M Half Half Marathon Austin, TX
Utah Zions Bank Ogden Marathon Half Marathon Ogden, UT
Vermont Race to the Top of VT 4.3-mile Stowe, VT
Virginia HCA Virginia 8km 8km Richmond, VA
Washington Lilac Bloomsday 12km Spokane, WA
West Virginia Charleston Distance Run 15-mile Charleston, WV
Wisconsin Summerfest Rock ‘n Sole Half Marathon Milwuakee, WI
Wyoming Hole Half Half Marathon Jackson, WY
Washington D.C. Cherry Blossom 10-mile Washington D.C.
Puerto Rico World’s Best 10k 10km San Jose, PR

*Holiday Race                                                @ Trail Run

Honorable Mentions:

Race to Robie Creek, Boise, ID (Half Marathon)

The Crim, Flint, MI (10-mile)

5/3 Riverbank Run, Grand Rapids, MI (25km)

Twin Cities in Motion 10-miler, Minneapolis, MN

Minnesota Mile, Duluth, MN

St. George Half-Marathon, St. George, UT

Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle, Chicago, IL* (8km)

Reedy River Run, Greenville, SC (10km)

Bay to Breakers Half Marathon, San Francisco, CA

Carlsbad 5000, Carlsbad, CA (5km)

Some of my favorites from the list:

Manchester Road Race* – Small town, big race. Manchester is a hidden gem in the road-racing world. With 15,000 participants in 2014 and a 78-year history, this race has all the glitz and glam of a big-time race but retains a small town feel. In one loop around Manchester, CT you will be greeted by local odd-balls like “Safety Man,” a polka band, a crowd of people offering runners a beer at the Hungry Tiger pub, and endless crowds cheering along the way. No race has ever made me feel so much like part of the community. Oh, and did I mention the race is 4.748 miles? Yep, so the good news is that you are probably getting a PR!

**Bonus: Buy a ticket to the pre-race pasta dinner. This is an opportunity to meet some of the fine Manchester locals, carbo-load, and hear from some of America’s greatest runners. Former speakers include Amby Burfoot, Dick Beardsley, and Bill Rodgers.

The Bear – Holy cow, people run here?! This race is not for the faint of heart. Starting in Linville, NC (3640 feet) you’ll make the 5-mile climb up to the iconic Grandfather Mountain (5181 feet). I do not use the word “climb” lightly here (1541-foot net gain). This is one of the more challenging but also more satisfying races you might run.

Along with burning lungs and aching quads, you will see some of the most majestic views in the High-Country. They don’t call these the Blue Ridge Mountains for nothing! If you enjoy odd-ball sports, you will cross the Highland games during the race, where you can watch men in kilts tossing logs and other highland-type activities.

**Bonus: Adult Running Vacation facility, ZAP Fitness, sits nestled in a valley below the racecourse. If you have the time, sign up for their Bear Weekend camp and combine your race with incredible running seminars, food, and just plain fun!

Garry Bjorklund Half –  Oh sure, Minnesota isn’t short on great road races, but from the Twin Cities 10-miler to the Rice Street Mile nothing will have you saying, “You betcha!” faster than the Garry Bjorklund Half. This is a superior half that weaves in and out of small towns along Lake Superior on scenic Highway 61 into Duluth, MN. For the first few miles you’ll be cheered on by the clapping of waves on the shore before crossing a fella’ playing “Ej Prijatelj” (Hey Friend) on the accordion.

**Bonus: Northern Minnesota boasts some of the best fishing and camping in the world. If you have a few extra days, make the 90-minute drive to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). I suggest the town of Ely and Shagawa Lake.

Gate River Run, Jacksonville, FL –  This is a great large-scale race boasting more than 24,000 finishers in 2014. Not only is it well organized, but it also provides an opportunity to watch the greatest assembly of U.S. distance runners battle it out in the USATF 15km Championship every year.

The course leads runners on a tour of Jacksonville peppered with bands, speakers playing music, and fans galore. The run culminates with nearly a mile climb up the grueling Hart Bridge before swooping down to the finish next to EverBank Field (the Jaguar’s football stadium), just in time for a post-race party and awards ceremony.

**Bonus: If you finish in the top 10% of the race (no small feat in this field of runners) you’ll receive a unique hat touting your achievement!

Remember, if you know of a better race that was not listed above, post in your race’s defense to help it earn a position on the list!

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