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Fast Half Marathons

Thinking it is time to train for a fast half marathon to get yourself a shiny new PR? Here is a list of some fast courses to unleash your speed.

Pancake Flat Courses

Just the facts:

  • November

  • Clarksburg, California outside of Sacramento.

  • Weather is typically cool but sunny and not much shade, no humidity. High of 66, low of 46. Pretty ideal running conditions.

  • It is not a crowded race, but there are runners of all abilities.

  • It is so freaking flat.

  • The course is quite pretty, running through vineyards and a great spot for some wine tasting at the Old Sugar Mill post race!

Just the facts:

  • March

  • Miami Beach, Florida

  • Weather can be warm and humid.

  • There are a lot of runners, approximately 3000, but not compared to a bigger city event.

  • It has a total of only 93 ft elevation gain. That is super flat.

  • Pace groups!

  • A pretty epic course through South Beach and over the bay and back.

Just the facts:

  • November

  • Indianapolis, Indiana

  • low of 34 degrees, high of 52 degrees. This is actually the most ideal racing condition for endurance events.

  • Pace groups!

  • 31ft elevation change, some slight fluctuation during the course but it is generally extremely flat.

  • This race attracts a lot of speedy racers!

Just the facts:

  • December

  • Rehoboth, Delaware

  • Net gain of 10ft. Like...Practically zero. (240ft up, 230ft down).

  • Pace groups!

  • Typical temperatures are in the 40s, making it somewhat ideal for racing.

Mostly Flat Courses

Grandma's Half Marathon (Gary Bjorklund Half Marathon)

  • June

  • Duluth, Minnesota

  • High of 66, low of 49 degrees. Ideal running temperature. Might catch a breeze from the lake.

  • Pace groups!

  • Very flat, running alongside the lade the entire point to point race.

  • Part of the Grandma's Marathon weekend making it a super exciting weekend!

Just the facts:

  • February

  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida

  • It can be warm and humid but the race starts at 5:50am in order to avoid peak sunlight.

  • The race goes out and back along the ocean. It is pretty much pancake flat but with some slightly elevation change totaling 213 ft for the entire half.

Slightly Downhill

(in order of least downhill to most)

Just the facts:

  • February

  • Phoenix, Arizona

  • Perfect weather for a half. Mid 40's to mid 60's. Sunny course, but start is so early that much of the race is during sunrise hours.

  • Very large race. Many participants.

  • Pace groups.

  • 150ft of loss, beginning very gradually, the first half is mostly flat, the second half has more gradual loss but most of the elevation loss is in the last 1.5 miles.

Just the facts:

  • June (usually end of May, but for 2022 it is June)

  • Ventura, California

  • Net loss of 178ft, it has a long gradual uphill from miles 1.3-4 and then has a gradual downhill with two hills during the 12th mile.

  • Ideal weather, beginning in the cool early morning hours and ending before it gets too hot. The course is mostly exposed in the sun and can be sunny.

  • Excellent post race party.

Just the facts:

  • February

  • Ventura, California

  • Extremely fast and forgiving point to point course, with 650ft of net loss (318ft of gain, 967ft of loss). It is rolling downhill, not a smooth downhill, and there are some climbs during the course.

  • Ideal weather, low of 48, high of 65. The start is early and begins during cooler hours.

  • Pace groups!

  • Absolutely gorgeous course.

Aggressively Downhill

These races are fun if you don't care about an accurate depiction of your fitness, and rather how fun it is to run fast down a mountain.

Just the facts:

  • June

  • Fontana, California

  • Can get hot, although it starts at 7am to avoid extreme heat. The course is largely exposed to the sun.

  • over 2100 ft of loss on a smooth downhill point to point road with zero hills.

  • small town race but can get a good amount of participants.

Just the facts:

  • September

  • Salt Lake City, Utah

  • Average low of 55, average high of 77. Could be somewhat warm, sunscreen is necessary.

  • 2856 ft of loss

  • At elevation starting at 7300ft.

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