Whether it’s on a bike, a paddleboard or your own two legs, the exhilaration of crossing a finish line is unlike any other.
So if opportunity allows, don’t miss out on one or more of these terrific races–from 5K to 100 miles long–held in beautiful beach locales.
1. Surf City USA Marathon: Huntington Beach, California
One of the most scenic races in the country, the event unfolds along the West Coast’s longest stretch of uninterrupted beachfront.
FEBRUARY: Runners have the option of a 5K, Half Marathon or Marathon, and get to pass by iconic sights like the Huntington Beach Pier while music from live bands electrifies the air. The route also winds through six stunning miles of the wildlife-filled Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.
JULY: The Molokai 2 Oahu calls itself “the most challenging stand-up paddle race in the world.” 32 miles of paddling across a channel 2,300 feet deep? You’ll definitely need stamina if you’re going to make it across this finish line.
3. US Open Fat Bike Beach Championship: North Carolina
In normal circumstances, riding a bike in the sand is a bit of a Sisyphean task. It’s wobbly and resistant and hard to steer. But that’s where fat bikes come in.
MARCH: A fat bike is one with tires wider than 4 inches thick, often used for riding through snow. 2018 marks the fourth installment of the event, which takes place along the pristine sands of Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina.
4. Big Sur International Marathon: Carmel, California
APRIL: Hills have their upsides and their downsides (pun intended). You’ll experience both of them if you take on the Big Sur International Marathon in California. The hilly route offers up some serious physical challenges, but the upside is the utterly spectacular views.
The race features some unique entertainment: Japanese taiko drummers spur runners over the start line with rousing battle rhythms, and later, a concert pianist gives a live performance on the open cliffs.
5. Bermuda Triple Challenge: Southampton, Bermuda
MARCH: Obstacle races and mud runs are usually held in sprawling parks, not across beaches and dockyards. That’s what makes the Bermuda Triple Challenge so alluring: it’s unlike anything you’ve ever done before.
The challenge spans three days. Day 1 is an urban foot race through the historic town of St. George, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Things get beachy on Day 2 with a 5K or 10K Boot Camp race held along Bermuda’s glorious pink sand beaches. Finally, Day 3 is a romp through the Royal Naval Dockyards, with running, swimming and climbing all part of the challenge.
6. Honolulu Marathon: Hawaii
DECEMBER: With over 20,000 finishers the Honolulu Marathon is one of the biggest marathons in the country. It follows an oceanic path that winds through Honolulu Harbor, takes you into the historic downtown, and then opens out into a stunning view of the world-famous Waikiki Beach.
By mile seven you’re circling an extinct volcanic crater. By mile 23 you’re admiring beachfront luxury homes.
Whatever mile you’re at, you’re never far from some gorgeous scenery.
7. Keys100 Ultramarathon: Key Largo, Florida
If the thought of a Marathon doesn’t intimidate you, then why not take it up a notch?
The longest of the Keys100 races goes for 100 miles!
MAY: Imagine racing across 40 islands, traversing bridges and feeling the air in your lungs as the blue water expands around you. And the really cool thing about it is that it can also be done as a relay. Teams of six runners can take it in shifts to complete the race. Working together in a team, supporting each other and cheering each other on? There’s always something extra special about that.
8. Seaside Half Marathon and 5K: Seaside, Florida
Posted by Seaside School Half Marathon & 5K on Tuesday, 10 October 2017
If a half marathon is more your speed, enter this long-standing gathering of runners from 44 states as you pass coastal dune lakes and the beautiful beaches along the race course.
MARCH: During Race weekend you can eat and drink the night away at the Taste of the Race culinary extravaganza presented by Chef Emeril Lagasse. All proceeds from this race benefit the local Seaside School Foundation.
And what list would be complete without our very own…
9. 30A Half Marathon: Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
The race starts and ends at Gulf Place, taking runners along 13.1 miles of beautiful Scenic Highway 30-A.
OCTOBER: The action-packed weekend’s events kick off with a barbecue and beer festival. Festivities include live entertainment and all the BBQ and beer you care to eat and drink. Guests then vote for the best barbecue on the Emerald Coast. Proceeds from this popular race benefit The Sonder Project, a global nonprofit organization in Santa Rosa Beach.
We would argue that just being in one of these beach locations to soak up the atmosphere and cheer everyone else on can be a pretty special experience in itself.
We’ve always got the latest and greatest beach information on 30A.com. We ❤ the beach!
TANIA BRAUKAMPER is an Australian-born writer and photographer currently living in Portugal. She’s obsessed with photographing sunsets and going for long coastal hikes, and always does her best to schedule her travel plans into an endless summer.