A Dozen of the Most Beautifully Picturesque Races in California

Our hand-picked collection of gorgeous race venues you just have to see for yourself…

1. Big Sur International Marathon in Carmel, California

Source: Big Sur International Marathon

In this extremely popular event you’ll run along scenic Highway One, one of thirty-one All-American Roads, from Big Sur to Carmel. This race is USATF certified and a Boston Marathon qualifier features stunning views of the redwoods, rural ranches, and the Pacific Ocean.


2. Wild West Marathon and 50K in Lone Pine, California

Source: Geoff Cordner (top & left), robndon (right)

An old favorite among trail marathon runners, this challenging event will test your endurance at altitudes of 3,700 to 6,600 feet and typical temperatures of 90F. However, it’s certainly worth it to experience the natural beauty of the Alabama Hills, various wildflowers, and native animals.


3. Mt. Tam Wild Boar Half Marathon & 10K in Mill Valley, California

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Source: Leor Pantilat (top), Envirosports (left), WINEDAZE (right)

Enjoy striking views of the Pacific Ocean and Bolinas Lagoon as you hustle along a mixture of paved and dirt trails on Mt. Tamalpais, filled with redwood groves and oak woodlands.


4. Coyote Hills Half Marathon/10K/5K in Fremont, California

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Source: Brazen Racing (top),Stephen Lea (left), Kai Schreiber (right)

A historic landmark just off of San Francisco bay, Coyote Hills will captivate you with expansive views of its rolling grassland hills and marshlands. During the run, you’ll move across a variety of different terrain including dirt, paved, and wooden bridges for a fun and relaxing experience.


5. Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon in Napa Valley, California

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Source: Daniel J. Jones (top), Napa-to-Sonoma (left & right)

As the flagship race of the Wine Country Half Marathon Series, this ever popular event will take you from acres of vineyards and wineries, to vistas of Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Preserve and San Pablo Bay. You will finish in the historic Sonoma Plaza where you can rest and celebrate with good food, wine, and company.


6. Miwok 100K in Stinson Beach, California

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Source: atrailrunnersblog.com (top), EnduranceBuzz.com (left), sharmanian.blogspot.com (right)

This ultra marathon has about 12,000 feet of elevation gain over a mix of fire roads and single track trails. With excellent views of the Golden Gate bridge, Mt. Tamalpais and the Point Reyes National Seashore, you’ll have plenty of sights to enjoy along your way.


7. Bay to Breakers 12K in San Francisco, California

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Source: Bay to Breakers

There’s no better way to experience the unique spirit of San Francisco than the massive Bay to Breakers. Hosted annually since 1912, this historic race/celebration plays host to tens of thousands of participants and spectators who revel in the event’s unique atmosphere (and costumes)!


8. Ragnar Relay Southern California in Huntington Beach, California

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Source: Ragnar Relay

Teams will enjoy both the Californian sun and the starry night sky in a 200 mile relay from Huntington Beach to San Diego. There are 36 exchanges in total, including 3 along the beautiful beaches!


9. Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach, California

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Source: Surf City Marathon

Treat yourself to some fresh air and a well deserved beach vacation as you participate in this popular race. You’ll take in sights of the famous Huntington Beach pier, vast sandy beaches, and the wonderful Bolsa Chica Wetlands.


10. Mojave Marathon in Mojave, California

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Source: Mojave Marathon

Perhaps the Mojave Desert doesn’t seem like a very attractive location for a race, but even a hot and arid environment can be beautiful if you take some time to appreciate it. Run or bike in this fun and unique race which supports the Mojave Revitalization Project.


11. Annadel Half Marathon in Santa Rosa, California

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Source: Lucy D’Mot (top), Annadel Half Marathon (left & right)

With proceeds supporting the maintenance of the Annadel State Park trails, this race takes you through a winding course with moderate-to-steep elevation changes. You’ll have plenty of natural beauty to absorb from the park’s lush forests, endless meadows, and peaceful ponds.


12. Twin Peaks 50 in Corona, California

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Source: Steven Rose (top), achtungrunner.blogspot.com (left), Todd Northcutt (right)

This ultra isn’t for the faint of heart and features very rough terrain over an estimated 15,000-17,000 feet of total elevation gain! This race will really test your endurance as you trek over single track and fireroad in the beautiful Santa Ana Mountains and Cleveland National Forest.


BONUS! 13. San Francisco Marathon in San Francisco, California

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Source: SFGate (top), KTVU (left), Competitor.com (right)

A running tour of everything San Francisco, including a jaunt over the Golden Gate Bridge! This USATF certified course takes a loop through the City, starting from the Ferry Building, and hitting classic SF spots like Fisherman’s Wharf, The Golden Gate Bridge and Park, Haight Street, The Mission and AT&T Park.


Which of these races have you run? Did we miss any that must be mentioned?

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