Why You Should Consider Signing Up for Pacific Northwest Races

Pacific Northwest Races

If you follow me on Instagram or regularly read this blog, then it’s no secret that I am head-over-heels in love with the Pacific Northwest. The mild climate suits my fairweather preferences, the scenery is ineffably awe-inspiring, and the whole place is a runner’s world full of uninterrupted scenic running paths and trails.

Pacific Northwest Races

While I’m not a fan of destination races, I signed up for the Portland Marathon last year before we knew when we were moving to the Pacific Northwest. After visiting Seattle and experiencing glorious weather in the middle of February (Feb-dreary as we called it in Indian), I knew I wanted to race in the beautiful and temperate PNW, even if it meant a trip halfway across the country.

Of course, Ryan and I moved to Seattle a year ago, so now I’m spoiled and only run Pacific Northwest races because they offer so much: ideal weather, scenic courses, and a wide variety from big city to trail races. 

Why You Should Consider Signing Up for Pacific Northwest Races

Pacific Northwest Races

Summer Races All Around

Spring and fall are the traditional race seasons across most of the United States, but what if you want to race in summer? Look no further than the Pacific Northwest. Why? Summer months are rarely rainy in the PNW, but rarely do temperatures increase above highs in the 70s.

Summer races include:

  • BMO Vancouver Marathon and Half Marathon
  • Rock and Roll Seattle Marathon and Half Marathon
  • Missoula Marathon and Half Marathon
  • Jack and Jill Downhill Marathon
  • Rock and Roll Portland Marathon
  • Eugene Marathon and Half Marathon
  • Foot Traffic Flat Marathon
  • Vancouver USA Marathon and Half Marathon
  • The Beats Half Marathon

Racing during rainy season? Follow these tips for surviving rainy runs!

What’s Humidity?

Don’t let our rainy reputation fool you: the Pacific Northwest is not very humid, especially compared to the Midwest or the South. I bitched and moaned the other day because it was hot and humid on my run; Accuweather revealed to me that this “high humidity” was only 65%. Oh, and the “hot” temperature was 62 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat and humidity are not common words in this part of the country, so if you want to race without PR-threatening humidity, consider the PNW. (Just don’t go East of the Cascades, because places like Spokane are hot, humid, and a bit of a desert.)

Wine and Beer After the Race

The fragrant smell of hops wafts through the air and the sprawling scenery of vineyards entertain me on my daily training runs, and many races in East Seattle finish in this area so runners can enjoy a craft beer or glass of wine. The Vancouver USA Marathon gives every finishers free beer at the Vancouver Summer Brewfest. The Woodinville Beer and Wine Valley Half Marathon runs through the wine valley before rewarding participants with wine.

Portland Marathon Race Recap 2015

Trail Races without Elevation

Into trail racing but train at sea level? Head to the Pacific Northwest for your destination trail race. Unlike Colorado or Utah which are at a lung-busting 5000 feet minimum altitude, the Pacific Northwest offers challenging trail races at sea level to 2000 feet.  Trail running is immensely popular in Washington and Oregon, with distances from the 5K to 50 miler and beyond through the numerous mountain ranges, forests, and parks in these evergreen states. Even the big cities such as Portland and Seattle offer trail races in locations such as Forest Park (OR) and the Issaquah Alps (WA) if you want to be near an airport for easy travel.

Pacific Northwest Races

You Truly Cannot Beat the Scenery

No matter how well-trained you are or how smartly you run the race, each race has that moment of “wow my muscles really hurt, can I keep going?” PNW races offer mountain views and evergreen trees to distract you from the burning sensation in your legs. My most recent half marathon ran along the coast of a sparkling blue lake with views of the mountains in the distance, and I’m positive the scenery helped me push hard through those last 3 miles that always are a sufferfest.

Lake Sammamish Half Marathon Race Recap 2016

Urban or Scenic, Take Your Pick

Whether you love big city races or scenic rural races, the Pacific Northwest has the ideal race for you. Urban races include the Seattle Marathon (hope you like hills!), the Portland Marathon, and the BMO Vancouver Marathon. Do crowds make you anxious or you just prefer the quietness of the less-beaten path? Then you may like the Leavenworth Marathon and Half Marathon, Whidbey Island Marathon and Half, or Columbia Gorge Marathon and Half.

Don’t Fear the Hills

Here’s a thing I’ve noticed about races out here: many courses pride themselves in being flat. Sometimes it’s even noted in the name, such as Skagit Flats Marathon and Foot Traffic Flat Marathon. Numerous races in East Seattle are flat and run along bike paths and through river valleys to minimize incline. Don’t let the topography of the Pacific Northwest deter you from racing here.

If you are looking for a hilly challenge – say you live in Illinois and want a race that isn’t flat, flat, flat, and more flat – then you can also race up and down as many hills as you wish. If you really want to experience hills, try the Seattle Marathon. You notice those hills even when driving downtown, so imagine running on them!

[Tweet “West Coast is the best coast for running! Why you should try a PNW race #pnwisthebest #runchat #FitFluential #sweatpink via @thisrunrecipes “]

Linking up for Thinking Out Loud

Have you ever done a destination race? Where?
If you have run one, what is your favorite West Coast race?
What do you love about racing in your city/part of the country?


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29 Responses

  1. I would love to do a race out there someday. There isn’t much I love about racing here, except for convenience. The weather is all over the place and it’s tough to avoid hills. I did enjoy the scenery when I lived in the city and got to run along the harbor every day!

    1. Your photos from the harbor were always so pretty! Convenience is definitely a huge factor for choosing races. It’s stressful to plan an overnight trip around a race sometimes!

  2. Your pictures are always so beautiful and I def. want to visit the Pacific Northwest one day. Clay and I have talked about going to Seattle although he doesn’t run so I probably wouldn’t do a race while there (don’t want to bother him with running stuff).

    65% humidity is like a dream down south!!

    1. You should! Seattle has so many fun places to visit for everyone – there’s the Pike Place Market in the city and then lots of good wineries and breweries in East Seattle. And yeah, I remember from when I lived in St. Louis that 65% humidity felt good and cool!

  3. Sounds amazing and I’d love to!! Are you going to spring for my airfare to get out there? 😉

    There’s nothing I really love about racing here in the Midwest except that it’s home and it’s convenient. I could really do without the super erratic weather and the humidity. But it is nice living on one of the great lakes and having that running view whenever I want it. It’s basically like running next to a big air conditioner 🙂

    1. Oh airfare! 😉 We paid so much to fly to Wisconsin for a wedding last year you would have thought we were flying to a different country! Although my mom is always able to find cheap deals on flights from the midwest to here. Lakes are great for running along! I love running by water.

  4. I’ve done a few Pacific Northwest races, but nothing big. I’ve just done a few small races with my cousins in Oregon who are super fast runners. I always come in last. 😀

  5. I have done a few destination events (Portland RnR, Vancouver RnR, Columbia Gorge HM, and Leavenworth Half). They are an awesome way to run in other cities and see the beauty that the PNW has to offer!!

    It is hard to say what my favorite race around here is…I love the swag from the Hot Chocolate. Leavenworth was pretty sweet because there was a mix of road and trail running (which I was not expecting, therefore I think it really threw me off). I am looking to going back to conquer Leavenworth this year!

    1. What did you think of the Leavenworth Half in terms of the organization and course? Leavenworth is so beautiful and not that far away, but I read some bad reviews of it on Marathon Guide.

  6. While I’ve never raced (or even really run) there, I seriously love the PNW. It pretty much has everything in just the right amounts and I can’t wait until I get to visit it again. My family was actually considering moving out to Vancouver when I was younger, and I seriously wish we would have!

    1. Vancouver would be such a beautiful place to live! I haven’t been there but all of the photos I’ve seen make it look like it just has everything to offer!

    1. Thank you! I’ve heard the DisneyLand California races are great! The weather down there is so nice in California and the races go in the park and then around the city. Did you read Run to the Finish’s post on Disney races? She had some great tips!

  7. I would love to visit (and run) the PNW someday, it’s one of those regions I’ve never made it to because it definitely requires a trip of at least say 4 days and nights to make it worth our while. It is definitely on the list though!

    1. Definitely worth visiting – and there’s plenty to do out here in 4 days or longer trip! Funny enough, that’s how we are about the East Coast especially New York or New England – it has to be a longer trip because of how long the flight alone takes!

    1. I think it’s in mid September! It looks like a fun one – I love running in Woodinville, along Redmond and Sammamish it has the nicest running trails!

  8. Are you *sure* I can’t beat the scenery though 😉

    The only “destination” race I’ve ever signed up for was near my grandparents’ house…and it got flooded out! I’m definitely considering doing a race in Seattle this winter. With hardly any winter races here, I feel like I’m wasting my best training season.

    1. Montana does have some crazy beautiful mountains. My phone is still full of photos from when we drove through Montana on our way to Seattle! Seattle has a ton of winter races – especially trail races. I’ve heard the Redmond Reindeer Romp is a fun trail half marathon and it’s in December, and in January there’s the Bridle Trails 50K if you’re into longer races 🙂

  9. I love this! The Mr. and I are traveling to the Portland area so I can run the Vancouver USA Half and I will be running the San Fran half as well (not the Pac NW, but similar climate compared to GA). It gets so hot here in ATL so I am really looking forward to it! Also, loved your interview with Denny on DizRuns 🙂

    1. Oh, thank you so much, Alaina! That makes my day 🙂 Vancouver USA will be so much fun! I almost signed up for it because I did Portland last fall and loved racing in that area. Portland/Vancouver is a beautiful area with so much to do and lots of good food – and after training in Georgia you will have no problem racing in the cool PNW climate!

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