The USRA Half Marathon Running Series-- Experience a Great Half Marathon Near You
The USRA and Reinke Sports Group welcome you to this popular must-run nation-wide series of events in small and mid sized cities around the country and across the calendar. This is the USA series that brings high level, professional racing events—30 half marathons with 5K’s, and a marathon--to many regions of the country.
Posted Sunday, 18 December, 2011
A perfect weekend getaway awaits the running community as the next USRA half marathon approaches. Take your pick in your region or use any of these terrific events for a great weekend get away, a racing destination in scenic, interesting locations around the country. Though most are in small cities, many are also close to major metro areas and convenient transportation. Each one has been carefully chosen for its unique character and excellent venues. The USRA Half Marathon Series is now present in 19 states with the goal to be running in all 50 within five years. Seven additions of events in 2012 brings the total to 30.
The next race will be held in central Pennsylvania, November 5, 2011, with the second annual Amish Country Half Marathon in Paradise, Pennsylvania. This is a place where your running speeds up as the Amish region experience in general slows to a relaxing, wonderful and unique experience. It is near Lancaster, PA and there are wonderful villages and beautiful farms like nowhere else. You will likely run with the Amish horse and buggies along these roads, which lead to Bird-in-Hand, Intercourse, Strasburg, Ronks, and Gap. This is Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Come hungry, eat and run in this storybook land, and leave happy. http://www.usrahalf.com/Events/amish.htm
The first weekend in December there is another second-year event in beautiful New Mexico shows off the southwest, and offers beautiful desert landscape and mountain vistas at the Las Cruces, New Mexico Half Marathon on December 4, 2011; it is near new Mexico State University and only 45 miles from El Paso. This is the only USRA Half currently scheduled in the southwest, and what a beautiful course and venue it is! http://www.usrahalf.com/Events/lascruces.htm
Also coming in mid December, the third annual Columbia, South Carolina Half Marathon will speed through Columbia and the nearby town of Cayce on December 17, 2011. Columbia is home to the University of South Carolina and is, of course, the capital and a wonderful place to visit. The State Capitol and State Museum are gems, and the river and canal and parks make for a really runnable/walkable city. The University of South Carolina is one of the best with a beautiful and historic campus. Cayce is a suburb of about 14,000 residents conveniently located near the Columbia Airport. It is also historic, having been the site of two Revolutionary War battles (Fort Granby) and much earlier on of the first European settlements north of Florida. The Congaree River flows through town, and they have developed a lovely river walk for recreation which has been incorporated into the course—great place to run, perhaps before or after your half marathon. http://www.usrahalf.com/Events/columbia.htm
And after the holidays the USRA schedule resumes with two half marathons in Florida, the third annual Palm Coast Half Marathon near St. Augustine on January 15, 2012 http://www.usrahalf.com/Events/Palm_Coast_Half_Marathon.htm ; followed four weeks later by the inaugural Charlotte Harbor Half Marathon and 5K on the southwest Gulf Coast on February 12, 2012. http://www.usrahalf.com/Events/Charlotte_Harbor_Half_Marathon.htm
Rounding out February at the opposite end of the country will be the Tri-Cities Half Marathon running in the fantastic Columbia River valley through southern Washington State’s wine country—Pasco, Richland, and Kennewick. There are at least 160 wineries in the area, and the running weather is ideal at this time. It is located at the confluence of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Hanford Reach National Monument is only part of the natural beauty of this wonderful valley. Mark that one on the calendar for February 26, 2012. http://www.usrahalf.com/Events/Tri_Cities_Half_Marathon.htm
Each of these USRA events includes a 5K and usually a fun run, so there is literally something for everyone.
As noted on the complete list below, the Worcester, Massachusetts event includes a Marathon along with the Half and 5K. Keep this in mind--important news: They will introduce a new concept in 2012, the "Night Moves Half Marathons". These will be set in a number of larger metro areas, and will be among the first to run half marathons at night--literally after dark! Interesting!
You can run the event of your choice, or several. With so many options you may be fortunate enough to have one held in your region. Or you can use the opportunity to plan a great getaway to run in a warmer climate or run and experience a new region of the country—these locations are carefully selected because of ease of access and because they highlight an area that is unique to participants, a true experience worth enjoying along with the terrific event itself.
Currently there are 23 USRA Half Marathons planned around the US bringing professional race management and top tier events into small and medium markets that are generally near larger metro areas, but still have the small town, little city feel and ambiance.
This schedule includes seven events in the south, six in the northeast, five in mid America, three in the Pacific Northwest, and one each in the Southwest and California. www.usrahalf.com
Each venue has a half marathon, of course, and each has an accompanying 5K and often a fun run. There is also a terrific marathon coming to Worcester, Massachusetts as noted, but they will keep the half marathon. Participants in the half marathons and marathon receive custom tech shirts and medals; 5K runners get traditional T-shirts. Each event has five-year age groups and goodie bags. Nearly all events have sanctioned charities, and many participants raise money for their favorite worthy causes. The courses generally have six aid stations for the half marathons—typically at 2.5, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11 and 12 miles. The 5K’s have one aid station at half way.
Volunteers are treated as participants, deserving of their efforts with T-shirts, goodie bags, and entry to the post race celebrations. All participants and volunteers are treated to live music at the finish and sometimes along the course as well, so participants and onlookers can rock out in style. The half marathon courses are usually open and staffed for a comfortable four hours; marathon for 7 hours.
Here is the current schedule:
Amish Country, Paradise, PA 11/5/11 (7 miles east of Lancaster)
Hoosier Half Marathon, Bloomington, IN 11/19/11
Las Cruces, NM 12/4/11 (40 miles from El Paso, TX)
Columbia, SC 12/17/11 (also partly in town of Cayce)
Palm Coast, FL 01/15/12 (near St. Augustine, an hour south of Jacksonville)
Tracy, CA 01/29/12 (East Bay, just east of Oakland)
Charlotte Harbor, FL 02/12/12 (just northwest of Fort Meyers)
Tri Cities, WA 02/26/12 (Pasco, Richland, Kennewick, Columbia River Valley)
Dade City, FL 03/11/12 Half Marathon (between Orlando and Tampa)
Kentucky, Mt. Sterling, KY 03/17/12 (Lexington Metro)
Greenwood, SC 03/24/12 (Halfway between Atlanta and Charlotte, NC)
Clarksville, TN 03/31/12 (37 miles northwest of Nashville)
Greater Pittsburgh, PA Half Marathon 04/08/12
Grand Haven, MI Half Marathon 04/14/12
Cape Cod, MA Half Marathon 04/22/12
Lake George, NY 04/29/12 (near Glens Falls and Saratoga Springs, Ticonderoga)
Worcester, MA 06/03/12 Half Marathon and Marathon (2nd largest city in MA)
Milwaukee, WI Half Marathon 06/17/12
Flint, MI Half Marathon 06/23/12
Albuquerque, NM 07/15/12 NIGHT MOVES Half Marathon
Yakima, WA 07/22/12 (valley east of Mt. Rainier—apples, wine, hops, lakes, Cascades)
Greater Portland, OR 08/04/12 (at Forest Grove, 43 miles west)
Freeport, ME 08/12/12 Half Marathon (home of L.L. Bean, just north of Portland, ME)
Lake Erie, Huron, OH 08/19/12 (Shores and Islands)
Springfield, MA 08/26/12 (The Pioneer Valley)
Ocean City, MD 09/08/12 NIGHT MOVES Half Marathon
Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon, Sevierville, TN 09/16/12 (just east of Knoxville)
Palm Beach County, FL 10/07/12 NIGHT MOVES Half Marathon
Traverse City, MI 10/21/12 (port on the Great Lakes, Sleeping Bear Dunes National LS)
Council Bluffs, Iowa/Nebraska (Omaha Metro) 10/28/12
Go, and Do It
Register for one or several of these outstanding events. Challenge yourself, and in so doing visit some really cool regions of the United States that you otherwise might miss. Each region is unique for different reasons, giving each event a special flavor that highlights the locality and the region. The organizers are inventive and professional, and despite the number of events, they give care and thought to each one, partnering with the local tourism or visitor’s bureaus, local racing clubs and organizations, city planners, local and national charities, and more.
Where would you like to see the next USRA Half Marathon—your town, or a special place you would like to visit?
One great example is running events in Greater Portland, Oregon, and Greater Portland, Maine on back to back weekends; both are wonderful cities. See them both; compare the cities, compare your times. How cool is that!? How many states have you run in; completed a marathon or half marathon in? Get moving and broaden your racing experience; enjoy the sport and the special places; make each a destination. Pick those that are right for you, gather teams or family and friends, and see the country with the USRA Half Marathon Series. www.usrahalf.com