Aside from an abundance of pumpkin-flavored everything, changing foliage and reduced need to shave your legs each morning (woo hoo!), there’s another autumn bonus for those of us who live in warmer-than-average cities and towns: running outdoors. The season is packed with some of the most fun, most challenging races you can sign up for all year in some of the most breathtaking locations.
Whether you’re a racing newbie or have multiple marathons under your belt, there’s a race for everyone—and here are five of the best ones out there.
New York City
“Magical” would be the best word to describe New York City in the fall, so what better way to take in the golden leaves and crisp, cool weather than running a race in the heart of Brooklyn? Although it’s a shorter-than-average race (it’s the only 10K in the Rock n’ Roll race series), there are a ton of fun bands and concert headliners to keep you motivated. Arrive early to ensure you get a parking spot, or better yet, take public transit.
Honor your U.S. veterans long ahead of Veteran’s Day by participating in the Marine Corps Marathon, one of the largest marathons across the globe. It’s also an especially good course for beginners, winding through a relatively flat landscape. But don’t assume flatness means you’ll be bored. The course weaves by some of the Capital’s most famous staples, including the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, the National Mall and the Marine Corps War Memorial. Wear patriotic colors, or better yet, hoist a flag en route to the finish line.
Although it’s another race in the Rock ‘n’ Roll series, the shimmering ambiance of the Las Vegas version couldn’t be more different than Prospect Park’s version. There are lots of bands lining the trail, plus you can sign up for a half-marathon or full in Sin City. The best part? After a long day of heaving and sweating, you and your girlfriends can relax directly afterword with a fun night out on the town. Of course, we don’t recommend donning heels that night—your feet will likely be aching.
Stock up on cake donuts at Mile 1.4, chocolate kisses at 2.1, Twizzlers at 3.3 and petroleum jelly for chapped lips at Mile 8.1 in this female-focused race that definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. In its third year, the course winds through downtown Cincinnati, hugging the Ohio River for some spectacular sights. Once you and your squad cross the finish line, prepare to clink mimosa glasses and nosh on chocolates. You might even receive a surprise gift—in 2014, runners received flip-flops.
For several months in the summertime, the sweltering temperatures and humidity in south Florida sometimes make it a not-so-great place to live, let alone run! But by October, the temperatures will be absolutely gorgeous, making the Southernmost Marathon and Half the perfect destination race for you and your friends. The race starts on the Atlantic side of the island with an oceanfront sunrise (seriously, can it get any cooler than that?) while continuing onto Stock Island. If you’re feeling up for it, don’t forget to grab a Key Lime Pie shot at the Mile 24 aid station. Of course, you can always wait until the race is over to down booze. Key West is home to a bevy of fun bars and live music.