You've already set your goal to run a half marathon this spring, so now you have to decide which half marathon to run. Half-marathons are a very popular race distance, so there's a good chance you can find a local one. But if you're looking for a unique experience or want to visit a new city, check out this list of top U.S. spring half marathons.
Where: Virginia Beach, Va.
Why do it: Designed to coincide with and commemorate the St. Patrick's Day festivities in this coastal Virginia beach town, the Shamrock Half-Marathon runs the same day as the full marathon. The half marathon race completes a fast, flat loop course before it ends on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. The finish line celebration offers plenty of good music, Irish stew, and Yuengling Beer.
Where: New York, NY
Why do it: If you don't think you'll ever participate in the New York City marathon, this other "crown jewel" of New York City running is a great option. You'll run the first half of the race in New York's famous Central Park and then take to the streets of the city, running right through Times Square and down the city's west side, along the Hudson River waterfront. Although it was held in the summer for its first four years, the New York City Half Marathon now takes advantage of cool March weather for fast running.
Where: Austin, Texas
Why do it: The ZOOMA Texas Half Marathon takes runners on a tour of the hills of the South Texas countryside, along a course that starts and finishes at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, just outside Austin. The race is open to both men and women runners, and is designed to encourage and celebrate women's fitness with post-race festivities that include mini spa treatments, live music and a post-race party for all participants.
Where: Salt Lake City, Utah
Why do it: The Salt Lake City half marathon is a point-to-point course that takes runners through the heart of Salt Lake City, offering beautiful views of the surrounding snow-capped Wasatch mountains. Starting at an elevation of just over 4800 feet, the half marathon course offers mostly flat and downhill running. Crowds of cheering spectators and live bands line the course all the way to the finish line at the Olympic Legacy Plaza at The Gateway in downtown Salt Lake. You can expect cool racing weather in mid-April.
Where: Nashville, Tenn.
Why do it: This half marathon goes off at the same time as the Country Music Marathon, so you can take advantage of the crowd support for more than 35,000 race participants while getting an ultimate tour of music city. All along the course you'll be entertained by country, rock, jazz, blues, swing bands. For those who want to continue the party into the evening, there's a post-race concert in downtown Nashville. Past performers include Phil Vassar, Brad Paisley, Martina McBride, Sarah Evans, Jo Dee Messina, and Kenny Rogers.
Where: Cincinnati, Ohio
Why do it: One of the biggest marathon/half-marathon combinations in the country, the Flying Pig half-marathon always gets high marks from participants as a fun and well-organized race. The race course offers a diverse tour of some the best neighborhoods in the Cincinnati area, as it "flies" along the streets of Cincinnati, Covington, and Newport.
Where: Cleveland, Ohio
Why do it: The Cleveland half-marathon course shares the same starting line and time as the full marathon, with the race for both starting in downtown Cleveland and then continuing along the shores of Lake Erie. Along the way, participants will be able to catch views of many of the city's most well-known sights, including Browns Stadium (home of the NFL's Cleveland Browns), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Jacobs Field, where the Cleveland Indians play. Although the course has a couple of hills, it's mostly flat and steady.
Also see: All About Half Marathon Training
After you've run your half-marathon, share your half-marathon story and get your half marathon recovery tips.