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The 20 Best Half Marathons in Texas

The great state of Texas contains endless miles of pavement, dirt, sand, and everything in between, just waiting to be explored on foot!  What better way to experience the Lone Star State than to embark on a “runcation” on some of its most uniquely cherished courses. If you are looking for an epic destination race, check out these 20 best half marathons in Texas!

The best half marathons in texas

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The 20 BEST Half Marathons in Texas

 

This list of the best Texas half marathons if broken down by season for convenience, starting with winter half marathons.

 

The Best Winter Half Marathons in Texas

 

The winter months of January and February offer some of the most challenging, beautiful, and serene half marathon races in the Lone Star State.  Though these will be some of the coldest races around, if you can handle the weather by layering up properly, then these races will be worth it!  Plus check out these 9 simple and effective cold weather running tips for even more motivation!

 

#1: The Urban Ultra Dallas

 

If you have ever had the chance to enjoy the Dallas skyline, then you will enjoy it even more as you watch the sun go down over the Urban Ultra Dallas.  There is something magical about a night run, and this race begins at the peak of sunset. The half marathon, in addition to the event’s 5k, 10k, marathon, and 50k courses, are run on the iconic “Skyline Trail” during the last Saturday of January.  This is a flat, fast course, full of night time electricity, urban views, and a high energy after party!

 

This event also exposes runners to a mixture of environments, as the race transitions from day to night, and runs over a combination of both trail and paved surfaces.  Bring your best “no bounce” headlamp for this run! After a good night’s rest, enjoy the best that Dallas has to offer and tour some museums, visit some top culinary restaurants in the city, or venture off the beaten path and do some outdoor exploring in Cedar Ridge Preserve or Oak Cliff Nature Preserve.

 

>Find out more on the Urban Ultra Dallas HERE

 

The skyline of Dallas including Reunion Tower
The iconic skyline of Dallas

 

#2: Natural Bridge Caverns Trail Run

 

This event, which takes place just north of San Antonio on the first Sunday in February, offers multiple distances along with the half marathon, including a 5k and 10k.  This race highlights the subterranean beauty of Texas’s largest cave system, with a starting line that actually begins underground on all three distances! When you have finished the run, enjoy a post race lunch, and then check out some of the other sites in your destination, including the nearby Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, Schlitterbahn Waterpark, or tubing in New Braunfels.

 

>Find out more on the Natural Bridge Caverns Trail Run HERE

 

#3: Missions Heritage Half

 

During the second Saturday of February, runners who take part in this half marathon, relay, 10k, 5k, and children’s fun run will have the chance to follow in the footsteps of some of Texas’s earliest history, as they run a course that winds past the four remaining and active Spanish Missions in San Antonio.  This is a fast and flat course, which also is an added bonus for those seeking a personal record time. After the race, partake in more local culture by visiting historic Market Square, take an extended tour of the San Antonio missions, or venture out at night to attend “Restored by Light”, a light show held at Mission San Jose.  

 

>Find out more about the Missions Heritage Half HERE

 

#4: Border to Badlands Ultra

 

Highlighting one of Texas’s most rugged and secluded state parks, the Border to Badlands Ultra is held annually on the 3rd weekend of February, in Seminole Canyon State Park.  Heralded as the 2nd largest desert in North America, runners have a chance to take on those views on the half marathon, or the 5k, 10k, marathon, 50k, or 50 mile course. If you are looking for a true endurance test, this race is for you!  

 

This state park encompasses miles of isolated Chihuahuan Desert, which houses Seminole Canyon, the Rio Grande River, prehistoric cave art, hiking trails, and campsites. After the race is completed, bring your passport to the border town of Del Rio if you wish to cross into Mexico, or make a side trip out to Big Bend National Park, located along the border to the west of Seminole Canyon State Park.

 

>Find out more about the Border to Badlands Half Marathon HERE

 

Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site is home to one of the best half marathons in Texas
The Rio Grande River in Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site

 

#5: Run the Line Half Marathon

 

Technically, only half of this race is in Texas, but that is what makes it so unique.  If you have ever wanted to run a race that takes you through two states, then head to Texarkana on the third Sunday in February, and partake in this event.  Runners pass through downtown Texarkana, onto the Nix Creek Trail, and then through Spring Lake Park. Billed as a personal record possibility, this is a flat, easy course through the two neighboring states of Texas and Arkansas.  Enjoy the down home feeling of Texarkana afterwards, by visiting its several markets, including the 1894 Market.

 

>Find out more about the Run the Line Half Marathon HERE

 

#6: Cowtown Marathon

 

This is THE race to run in Fort Worth!  A classic, held annually through the streets of downtown Fort Worth on the last Sunday of February, this event is comprised of the half marathon, in addition to a  5k, 10k, and full marathon option  This event exposes runners to Texas’s rustic city life, including views of the Trinity River, Main Street, the historic Fort Worth Stockyards, and iconic older neighborhoods.  This event brings out thousands, and is a fantastic event for the social runners out there who feed off of each other! Afterwards, visit the Stockyards, check out a rodeo, visit the Cowboy Hall of Fame, or sample some amazing Texas barbecue at any of the renowned downtown restaurants. 

 

>Find out more about the Cowtown Half Marathon HERE

 

******Don’t forget to check out the shop for all things half marathon training, including training calendars, food and water trackers, and checklists!

 

 

The Best Spring Half Marathons in Texas

 

Spring is an amazing time in Texas to embark on a destination race!  The flowers are blooming, the wildlife is out, and the sun is warm but not yet too brutal!  These are your best “runcation” options for March and April!

 

#7: Alamo 13.1

 

The name says it all!  Another San Antonio offering, with historic ties!  On the first Sunday of March, runners begin the half marathon to the sound of a cannon, just south of the historic Alamo.  The course winds past several other cultural standouts, including the Majestic Theater, built in 1929, the San Antonio River Walk, and Missions National Historic Park.  The event concludes with a post race party at the Alamo! Unwind from this race by strolling the River Walk at a more leisurely pace and check out some of the other uniquely Spanish inspired architecture.

 

>Find out more about the Alamo 13.1 HERE

 

Mission architecture in San Antonio
Mission architecture in San Antonio

 

#8: Tinajas Ultra

 

The best part about this race is its adjacent proximity to one of the best state parks and hiking gems in the state, Colorado Bend State Park.  If you are running this race, plan to camp and stay in this beautiful state park for the duration of your “runcation”.  Bend is located northwest of Austin, right in the middle of rolling Texas Hill Country.  The Tinajas Ultra is comprised of a half marathon, 100 kilometer, 50 kilometer, 100 kilometer relay, and 50 kilometer relay race, which take place over the first weekend in March.

 

This race gets its namesake from the local “tinajas”, which are unique rock formations eroded over time, to now store water in arid surroundings.  The Colorado Bend area is known for this unique geology, and runners will have a chance to experience them firsthand. It is all about appreciating the small, under-rated details of your surroundings on this run! After the race and your time in Colorado Bend, check out some of the charming small towns in the area, including Lampasas, Burnet, and Llano, or head to the bigger stars like Austin.

 

>Find out more about the Tinajas Ultra HERE

 

#9: Crazy Desert Trail Run

 

Another race highlighting more of Texas’s iconic open expanses!  Held on the second Saturday of March, this event’s half marathon, as well as a 50k and 100k, all take place in San Angelo State Park in central Texas.  These courses included varied terrain typical of the area, including a mixture of ravines, creek beds, “cacti gardens”, desert, and the Concho River. This is a mostly flat, mostly fast course, but it is sunny with full exposure! Even in March, the temps can get a little toasty, so be sure to prepare with sun protection, and a hydration system like my favorite Camelbak hydration vest.  Camp in the state park during your “runcation”, and after the race enjoy miles of trails with views of Fisher Lake, prehistoric dinosaur tracks, and some local residents, including Texas bison and longhorns!  Or stroll on the Concho Riverwalk and enjoy dinner at one of the local restaurants.  While on the Riverwalk, be sure to check out the International Water Lily Collection, a one of a kind outdoor display only found in San Angelo!  If you have kids, they will also love the local San Angelo Nature Center and its resident critters!

 

>Find out more about the Crazy Desert Trail Run HERE!

 

The best half marathons in Texas

 

#10: Bearathon Half Marathon

 

This race injects a little mix of friendly college rivalry, an up and coming small town, and the natural beauty of central Texas.  The “bear” in Bearathon comes from the mascot of Baylor University, whose McLane Stadium is the starting point of this half marathon and 5k organized race, taking place during the 4th Saturday in March.  Runners pass along the scenic Brazos River during this course, through Cameron Park, an expansive, forested setting in the middle of Waco, before arriving at the Waco Steel Bridge for the latter part of the race.  

 

After the race, return to Cameron Park, whose several hundreds large acres of forest deserve a day of exploring in themselves. Tour Baylor University and McLane Stadium, spend some time relaxing at Waco Lake, check out the Cameron Park Zoo and Waco Mammoth National Monument, and be sure to visit one of the most recognizable spots in Texas, the Magnolia Market Silos.

 

>Find out more about the Bearathon Half Marathon HERE

 

#11: Outlaw Half Marathon

 

One of the most charming hill country towns of central Texas is home to this sinister sounding race!  Held on the first Saturday in April, the Outlaw Half Marathon and 5k starts in the tiny speck of a town that is Luckenbach, Texas, just outside of Fredericksburg.  Luckenbach is home to a dance hall and not much else, with the chance for runners to take in all the backcountry beauty of the Texas Hill Country. If you are lucky, you may even run with the local deer as they prance through the fields glistening with early morning dew!

 

The after party consists of local beer and barbecue offerings staged on picnic tables in the heart of Luckenbach, and afterwards, runners can visit the nearby town of Fredericksburg for hiking at Enchanted Rock, antique shopping, or partaking in the numerous wineries the area is famous for.

 

>Find out more about the Outlaw Half Marathon HERE

 

Texas pasture lands
Texas springtime pasture lands

 

#12: Divas Half Marathon and 5k

 

During this high energy, glamorized event, runners get to sample the best of Texas’s beaches and boardwalks!  This half marathon and 5k event, held on the last Sunday in April, starts and finishes inside the renowned Moody Gardens.  Along its course runners pass sand, piers, waves, and historic neighborhoods. After the race, experience the other side of Galveston by dining seaside, visiting Schlitterbahn Park, lounging on the beach, or visiting some of the outer stretches of the Gulf Coast, like Jamaica Beach, the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, or the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge.

 

>Find out more about the Divas Half Marathon HERE

 

The beach at Galveston
The beach at Galveston

 

The Best Summer Half Marathons in Texas

 

Training for a half marathon, or any long distance race, during the summer in Texas is a challenge that should be cautiously approached and carefully trained for, due to the environmental conditions and the often brutal summer heat!  These 10 tips for running in hot weather will help immensely! The payoff for this extra challenge factor is my top recommendation for summer half marathons!

 

#13: Plano Balloon Festival Half

 

This running event is part of the larger, festival atmosphere that is the Plano Balloon Festival, held in the north central city of Plano over the course of the third weekend in September.  Runners can choose from a half marathon, as well as a 1k fun run, 5k, or 10k distance. Registration includes entry and free parking into the festival as well, so runners can enjoy the amazing views of liftoff and nightly glows as dozens of hot air balloons dot the Texas sky!  Being able to see all these massive balloons congregate in one place is worthwhile in itself, but getting to witness them from the perspective of a runner is even better!

 

>Find out more about the Plano Balloon Festival Half HERE

 

Glows of the Plano Balloon Festival and Half Marathon
Glows of the Plano Balloon Festival and Half Marathon

 

The Best Fall Half Marathons in Texas

 

With the slower sizzle of the sun during the months of October, November, and December, the race calendar picks up speed and offers a plethora of exciting running options!  Fall is probably my favorite running season all year!  After the often unbearable summer heat, it is such a treat to run in the cooling temperatures again!

 

#14: The Haunted Half Austin

 

In one of the more bizarre offerings that Texas has to offer its runners, the Haunted Half Austin gives racers the opportunity to run through a “ghost town” in the small town of Manor, Texas.  This old West styled theme park really does have roots in old West history.  Residents claim that the original 1800’s town was burned to the ground.  When the new owner of the theme park began rebuilding, he dug up old, original planks and beams from the burned aftermath of the fire.  Apparently, strange things began to happen after that, but you will have to run the race to find out for yourself!

 

Being as this race occurs on the last Sunday in October, of course runners are encouraged to dress the part for Halloween!  After the race, explore the theme park and the ghost culture of the surrounding area, or head to nearby Austin for more big city offerings.

 

>Find out more about the Haunted Half Austin HERE

 

#15: Barrier Island Ultra

 

Held the second Saturday in November on remote Mustang Island in the Gulf, this race contains the half marathon, along with distances of a 5k, 10k, marathon, 50k, and 50 mile option.  This island, part of the largest, undeveloped barrier island in the world, gets its name from the wild horses that inhabit its boundaries. In addition, the coasts of Mustang Island are also home to sea turtles and nesting grounds, including the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle.  After finishing the race along some of the best coastline in the United States, runners can extend their “runcation” by exploring Mustang Island State Park and other remote and pristine areas of this part of the Gulf.

 

>Find out more about the Barrier Island Ultra HERE

 

#16: The Franklin Mountains Trail Run

 

El Paso is such an under-rated destination in Texas, but this race really allows visitors to not only take on some challenging, elevated trail running, but also a chance to explore some of the best rock climbing in the country, and superb hiking and biking opportunities as well.  This race is held inside Franklin Mountains State Park, a secluded park with spacious campsites and unfiltered night skies. Held on the 2nd Sunday in November, this race offers trail running courses consisting of a half marathon as well as a 50k, 27k, “king and queen of the mountain”, 10k, and 5k.

 

Find one of the best half marathons in Texas in the Franklin Mountains State Park
The setting for the Franklin Mountains Trail runs

 

Camp in the state park, and you will be awakened to the long distance runners starting the morning off by winding past your site as the course meanders through the park.  For a state not famous for elevation gains, these courses give you a chance to intimately experience some of the rugged mountains of west Texas. This race has a very local feel to it, with local food trucks coming into the park to provide cuisine, and many runners staying on site for the weekend.

 

When runners are done with the race, head to Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site for some renowned rock climbing and to witness the namesake rock formations that form shallow rock pools, or “huecos”, or explore some of the bike paths and unique hikes within Franklin Mountains State Park.  The Tin Mines hike takes visitors to the only tin mines to exist in the United States, and you can even go inside them! Or check out the hike to the old B-12 crash site, located in residential El Paso.  Check out this list of the best El Paso hikes for inspiration after your run!

 

>Find out more about the Franklin Mountains Trail Run HERE

 

Find out more about the best El Paso hiking trails here!

 

Running the mountains of the Franklin Mountains event
The final moments of the Franklin Mountains trail running event

 

#17: Rock N Roll San Antonio

 

The Rock N Roll series is known for their infectious atmosphere, entertainment and live bands, and crowds of morale boosting spectators.  The Rock N Roll San Antonio is no exception, with a backdrop of all the culture and flair that San Antonio brings. This race surprisingly highlights some of the hillier northern sections of the city during its half marathon, marathon, and relay races.  Held during the second Sunday of December, this is a fun way to inject some unique adventure into your holidays routine. If you like high energy and expertly supported races, this is the race and the race series for you. When you are finished with the race, linger in San Antonio a while longer to see the historic missions, the iconic Alamo, and relax along the famed Riverwalk.

 

>Find out more about the Rock and Roll San Antonio HERE

 

#18: Dallas Marathon and Half

 

2018 brought a completely revamped course to this Dallas favorite half marathon, ultra marathon, marathon, 10k, 5k, 2 mile walk, kids race, and relay.  This race is iconic and loved among Dallas-ites, heralded as Texas’s largest marathon, and brings throngs of runners each year. Another high energy, big city option for those that love an amped up racing experience.  This event takes runners through many of the historic and cherished neighborhoods in the area, as well as significant landmarks. After the run, visitors will find no shortage of entertainment in the form of nightlife, fine dining, and museums.  Visit the Dallas World Aquarium for a completely immersive rainforest experience, take in a sporting event with Texas’s big name teams, relax in the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, or take in the skyline and a meal from Reunion Tower.

 

>Find out more about the Dallas Half HERE

 

#19: Spicewood Vineyards Half

 

One of my all time favorite half marathons, the Spicewood Vineyards is a rustic, peaceful sampling of Texas Hill Country, with a small town, local feel to it.  Yes, it is held at a vineyard, so the post race festivities include free local wine! Held annually on the second Saturday in December, this race puts on a half marathon and 10k course.  This course is a little hilly, as true to its location, and therefore is more on the challenging side. But in the midst of the hills runners can find some Texas sized peace and quiet in the rural farmlands of the area.  After the race, visit nearby Lake Travis for water activities, hiking, or camping. Other prime outdoor destinations for hiking and camping within close proximity include the Colorado River, the Krause Springs swimming hole, Pedernales Falls State Park, and Pace Bend Park, whose cliffs overlook Lake Travis.  

 

>Find out more about the Spicewoods Vineyards Half HERE

 

Views of Lake Travis near Spicewood
Camping near Spicewood and Lake Travis following the Spicewood Vineyards Half

 

#20: Santa Hustle Half and 5k

 

If you are interested in a contagiously charming race, set to an ironic backdrop of summertime vibes, then head to Galveston on the second Sunday of December to take part in the half marathon or 5k course of the Santa Hustle.  You will join literally thousands of fellow Santas in the streets, which is enough said! Registration includes a Santa hat, a Santa beard, and a Santa hoodie, which participants will wear on the run! As an added bonus, runners will enjoy candy, cookies, and Christmas melodies along the course.  After you have had your fill of Christmas indulgences, take a wintry stroll along the Galveston beach, visit Moody Gardens, or head to the Galveston Island Pleasure Pier for some childlike nostalgia!

 

>Find out more about the Santa Hustle Half HERE

 

The beaches of Galveston mark the spot of one of the best half marathons in Texas
The beaches of Galveston

 

 

Knowing where you want to run is half the battle, knowing how to TRAIN is the second part!  Now that you have an idea of where you want your destination “runcation” to occur, be ready for it using my 16 week half marathon training guide to get you there!  And be sure to check out the Yonderlust Ramblings shop for all your pre-half marathon resources:

 

 

Ready to Start Training for Your Own Half Marathon?

 

Get Your 16 Week Half Marathon Training Calendar HERE!

 

 

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Best half marathons in Texas

 

The best half marathons in Texas

 


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2 Comments

  1. I have needed some inspiration to get back into running. Maybe a destination is what I need. It’s been about two years since my last 1/2 marathon. And now I am in a new age group!

  2. Great article! Thanks for the list – I already run the metroplex races, but I never heard of several and am putting them in my Outlook calendar right away. Thanks for the list and the great writintg – enjoyed it very much.