While I do moan and complain when summer ends, I do actually really enjoy fall. If it weren’t for what comes after, fall would be my #1 favorite season. I take that back. Fall might be my favorite season despite what comes after it.
Today’s topic for the Friday Five 2.0 is “unique running routes.” I don’t have any unique running routes at all. So I’m going rogue this week. Instead, I’m going with fall races! Seeing as fall racing season is officially upon us, I think it’s timely, don’t you?
5 Fall Races for Every Runner
1. Iron Horse Half Marathon
Picture this: rolling hills, large trees overhanging a narrow country road, fences lining pastures, and horses. Lots and lots of horses.
This is what it looks like in Midway, KY — the heart of horse country. It’s a beautiful sight in any season, but simply gorgeous with the colorful leaves and cool breeze of a fall morning.
The Iron Horse Half Marathon is a challenging race in a beautiful part of the country. There isn’t much crowd support but there doesn’t need to be. It’s a small race with a well stocked finish line area. I’ve only run Iron Horse once but it was incredible and I look forward to running it again in the future.
2. Northern Ohio Marathon/Half Marathon
The Northern Ohio Half Marathon (I’ve never run the full — yet…) is one of my all-time favorite races. It’s a hidden gem and if you’re not local to Cleveland you may not know about it. Heck, even if you are local to Cleveland, you still may not know about it.
Runners arrive at Mentor Headlands beach in darkness. Parking is a little bit of a challenge but even more so is maneuvering to the starting line. One moment you’re walking on asphalt, the next your feet are sinking into… sand? It’s hard to tell in the dark. But once the sun rises and seeing becomes easier, you see just how serene a setting the Northern Ohio course truly is. Northern Ohio begins and ends on the shores of Lake Erie. All throughout the course, runners wind through parks and neighborhoods with the lovely colors of fall hanging from the trees.
3. Akron Marathon
Another really great fall race is the Akron Marathon/Half Marathon/Relay. I’ve only done this race once and I was on the relay team. But WOW, what an experience! The crowd support for this race is truly incredible. The aid stations and relay exchange points are well run and extremely organized. The part of the course I ran was lovely through residential areas. But the atmosphere was far and away one of the best race atmospheres I’ve experienced.
If you’re looking for an Ohio race, you might want to consider Akron. Come run the blue line!! (And yes, there really is a blue line!)
4. Autumn Leaves 5-Miler
I ran the Autumn Leaves 5-Miler in 2016 for the first time and I must say I really enjoyed it. It was the week following Marine Corps so I didn’t race it at all. I meandered the cross-country style course with my friend, and we had a really nice time. The course was challenging but very beautiful. Plus the post race fare was excellent! If you’re interested in an adventure through a beautiful part of Ohio, the Autumn Leaves 5-Miler might be right up your alley!
5. Marine Corps Marathon
And obviously I saved the best for last. Marine Corps Marathon is one of my all-time favorite fall races. I have such fond memories of it from 2016 and I’m hopeful I’ll have just as an amazing time in 2017 as I did then. What makes this race so special?
Running through D.C. is definitely one of the highlights of this race. I love Washington, D.C. — I love everything about it. Except for maybe parking. That part kinda sucks. But the monuments, the White House, the history of it all. It’s my place!
MCM is a very humbling race. I can’t adequately put it into words. If you’ve run MCM before, you know what I mean. And if you haven’t, I recommend that you do. Between the Marines, the Blue Mile, the camaraderie of runners and spectators — it’s just incredible.
Last year I was injured and I still had the time of my life. How could I not while running through such a beautiful, clean city with servicemen and women all around to cheer me on through the course?
Marine Corps Marathon is a top notch race. If you ever have the opportunity to run it, I can’t recommend it enough.
If you like fall and you like running, I highly recommend checking out one of these amazing fall races. There are so many more to name, but these are definitely some of the best.
Need other race ideas? You might like these:
- Themed Races for Every Season
- 5 Amazing Spring Races Cleveland Has to Offer
- 5 Bucket List Races in 2017
- Top 5 Favorite Races of 2016
- 7 Amazing Bucket List Races
- 5 Racecations You Don’t Want to Miss
Have a fantastic weekend, friends. Happy running!
What’s your favorite fall race?
Do you travel for races, or race locally?