5 half marathons to conquer this fall

The fall means sweaters, pumpkin-spiced everything and COOLER, crisp air. For those of you who are more interested in leaf crunching than leaf peeping, here are 5 half marathons across the country you should consider running this fall.

Oregon: Wine Country Half Marathon

September 2

Picture: a vast valley, its rolling hills covered in dark green vines. Now imagine running through it all. The Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon will bring that imagery to life, with wine to boot. The Willamette Valley is less than an hour’s drive from Portland. You’ll run through scenic countryside – the start line is at a winery. Race organizers say the course is 90 percent paved, and surprisingly, mostly flat. End your 13.1 miles in Carlton and celebrate your accomplishment at a Wine & Music Festival! If your mind has been made up, you’ll want to register now – the field is limited to 2,500 to reduce the race’s impact on the land.

Sign up, here.

Maine: Bar Harbor Bank and Trust Half Marathon

September 15

Are you a lover of National Parks? Ever been to Acadia in Maine? Why not make your first time running through it? The Bar Harbor Bank and Trust Half Marathon is one of only a select few that are held in Acadia National Park. This 13.1 mile course travels along the carriage roads within the park, providing for stunning views of rocky coastline, mountains and cliffs. If you don’t feel like running, walkers ARE allowed! Acadia is the only National Park in the Northeast and Mount Desert Island (where it’s located) is the second largest island on the eastern seaboard. Organizers describe the course as “challenging”. The race begins in charming Bar Harbor.

Sign up, here.

South Dakota: Run Crazy Horse Half Marathon

October 7

Put your body – and mind – to the test, below the world’s largest mountain carving. The Run Crazy Horse Half Marathon begins on the grounds of the Crazy Horse Memorial, and travels through dramatic South Dakota landscape, finishing in the heart of the Black Hills – Hill City. Course organizers say most of the point-to-point race is flat and downhill. Once you finish your feat, we recommend replenishing at the Pasta Party Buffet at Laughing Water Restaurant, which is named for a nearby creek – one of the few places to retain water during the drought of the 1930s. The full marathon is a Boston qualifier and open to walkers.

Sign up, here.

Florida: Cocoa Beach Half Marathon

October 14

If you’re craving an ocean breeze during your race, head south to Florida for the Ron Jon Cocoa Beach Half Marathon. This point-to-point half starts south of Cocoa Beach on the scenic A1A Highway. The course travels north, ending with three miles along hard packed sand. This race might just have the coolest prize waiting at the end – finishers get a 4 inch tall hand-painted genie bottle medal. Yes, you read that right. That’s because Cocoa Beach is where the hit show “I Dream of Jeannie” was set. When you’re finished running, you’ll head to “I Dream of Jeannie Lane” at Lori Wilson Park for a party and genie costume contest.

Sign up, here.

California: Joshua Tree Half Marathon

November 3

This next race is one for the bucket list – a night run through Joshua Tree, California. As part of its National Park Half Marathons series, the Joshua Tree Half Marathon provides runners with a sunset and night sky spectacle they will never forget. All of the races in this series have gone cup-free – there are hydration stations, but instead of passing along those little paper cups, you’re given a hydropouch in your registration packet. You’ll fill that with electrolyte drinks or water to get your hydration fix. The 13.1 mile journey starts and ends about 20 minutes outside the park, at the Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground. We can already feel the cool, desert air on our skin!

Sign up, here.