These Fall Marathons Are Your Last Chance to Race Before Winter

This article originally appeared on Outside

As we hit our stride into fall weather, some of us are trying to squeeze in the miles before unbearably cold weather blows in and put our summer fitness to good use. Winter running isn't for everyone, though, especially if you prefer a long recovery (read: hibernation) season from December to February. But for those who want to hit that last-minute PR or final marathon, worry not: there are a handful of fall marathons perfect for the occasion.

Or perhaps life brought some last-minute changes to your race schedule and you were left with a bunch of training in your legs and a gap in the calendar - like the 25,000 runners registered for the Twin Cities Marathon whose race was canceled last week due to a heat advisory.

Below are a few races that are a perfect way to wrap up the warm-weather season.

If You Want Practice for Boston's Heartbreak Hill: Baltimore Marathon

Baltimore Marathon
(Photo: Baltimore Running Festival )

October 14, 2023

The Baltimore Marathon is the flagship race of the Baltimore Running Festival, which also includes the Chessie Challenge, the half marathon, the 5K, the 10K, and the Balti-MORON-a-thon. The course starts at the Camden Yards Sport Complex and winds through neighborhoods in the historic Federal Hill, Fells Point, and even through the Maryland Zoo--right past the penguin exhibit. From miles 16 to 20, the course has an elevation that some runners compare to Boston's 'Heartbreak Hill,' but the final five miles are downhill. So if you want to try to replicate the Boston elevation experience, this fall marathon could be your race.

Max elevation: 345 feet

Total elevation gain: 977 feet

If You Want Flat and Fast: Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon
(Photo: Indianapolis Monumental Marathon)

October 28, 2023

One of the 15 largest marathons in the U.S. and the biggest in Indiana, the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon has seen its fair share of Olympic Team Trials qualifiers - 39 in 2019 alone. Last year, though the race was on a rainy day in November, the event drew 15,000 participants. The attraction, rain or shine, may be because the course produces lots of Boston Marathon Qualifiers - in 2021 the race had the fourth-largest Boston Marathon Qualifiers (1,082) in North America.

"We strive to give athletes the experience of a 'big city' marathon with a 'small town' feel," says Jed Cornforth, executive director of Beyond Monumental. "With a flat, fast course where thousands of runners have PR'd, qualified for the Boston Marathon or even the u.S. Olympic Team Marathon Trials, and a great date on the calendar, Indianapolis is ideally situated for runners seeking to cap their training season off with a PR."

Max elevation: 776 feet

Total elevation gain: 302 feet

If You Want Size and Support: Philadelphia Marathon

Philly Marathon
Philly Marathon

November 17-19, 2023

The Philadelphia Marathon has the size of some of the major races - it's the eight-largest marathon in the U.S. - while being known as an especially smooth event. The course leads through downtown and historic Philly, then out along the Schuylkill River. While there are a few hills in the middle of the race, the course is mostly flat. Often most talked about, however, is the amount of supporters along the race. There's rarely a mile where people aren't cheering. While this may be the chilliest fall marathon on the list (race day temperatures range from a low 30 degrees to a high of 40) the supporters, views, and warm broth served at the finish line makes it worth it.

Max elevation: 148 feet

Total elevation gain: 744 feet

If You Want Southern Charm and Fast Hills: Charlotte Marathon

Charlotte Marathon
(Photo: Charlotte Marathon/Sports Photos)

November 4, 2023

Previously called the Thunder Road Marathon, this race used to be all about NASCAR to celebrate the area's local ties to auto racing. Nowadays, the Charlotte Marathon (the new name as of 2005) is a Boston Qualifier that annually draws in runners from about 45 states and six countries. The course has a few rolling hills, and is part tree-lined neighborhood and part city landmarks.

"Charlotte is the perfect destination for a fall PR - the beautiful "Southern Charm" course with perfect fall color winds through the best of Charlotte and its most iconic neighborhoods," says race director Tim Rhodes. "The second half includes a few out-and-back sections that provide a great opportunity to exchange an encouraging high-five with fellow runners. And, as we like to say around here, these hills are the fastest in the east!"

Max elevation: 773 feet

Total elevation gain: 1,044 feet

If You Want Challenging and Small: Bowling Green Marathon

Bowling Green Marathon
(Photo: Bowling Green Marathon/ J.A. Laub Photography )

November 5, 2023

One of the smaller Boston Qualifiers on this list, the Bowling Green Marathon is for those runners who want to end the season on a high note - literally. The first six miles has a few tougher inclines, but the second half is extremely flat. In the two-loop marathon course, you'll pass through historic downtown Bowling Green and Western Kentucky University's autumn leaf-clad campus. Race day temperature is usually mild, with a low of 55 and a high of 73. Plus, the pre-packet pickup includes a free pasta dinner, perfect for carb-loading before the race.

"Bowling Green is home of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers for a reason," race director Lily Riherd says. "But there's something about our hospitality and the way we are in Kentucky. Sometimes at those bigger races, you're overwhelmed. Here, we have a hometown feel."

Max elevation: 627 feet

Total elevation gain: 1,129 feet

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