A Runner's Paradise

Destination Marathons and Running Races Near Orlando

With postcard-perfect weather and tons of events to choose from, fall and winter are a runner’s paradise in Central Florida. 

Magical Miles
Walt Disney World kicks off a series of races on Nov. 7 with the nighttime Wine & Dine Half Marathon, featuring a finish-line party at Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival. Looking for a bigger challenge? Run the full 26.2 miles through all four parks during the Jan. 10 Marathon. Don your tiara for the Princess Half-Marathon Weekend Feb. 18-21 or grab a light saber for Orlando’s first Stars Wars Half Marathon Weekend April 14-17. Plan ahead; events often sell out months in advance.

Race as your favorite Disney characters cheer you on (©Walt Disney World)

The OUC Orlando Half Marathon on Dec. 5 winds through downtown past picturesque Lake Eola, making it one of Florida’s top road races. Grab some chocolate milk post-race and ice those weary legs in the Cool Zone.  

The Town of Celebration hosts full and half marathons on Jan. 31. The race is capped at 2,500 runners so organizers can pamper participants. “We do everything we can to make it memorable,” says race director Ken Zambito. From free finish-line massages and mimosas to specialty dishes from local restaurants, runners are treated like royalty in this charming town created by Disney. The course weaves through scenic paths and boardwalks where sightings of deer, wild turkeys and gators are not uncommon. 

Start your engines with a lap around the Speedway at the Daytona Beach Half Marathon on Feb. 7. Head to the beach, watch the sunrise over the Atlantic and finish on the track. Refuel with a post-race breakfast of pancakes, strawberries and champagne.

Run right on the Atlantic Ocean (Courtesy Daytona Beach Half Marathon)

Fun Runs
Bring the whole family to Sea World on Dec. 12 for the three-mile Vanessa Welch Reindeer Run. There’s a free Rudolph Run for kids, a costume contest and treats for all finishers. 

The Jan. 23 Color in Motion 5k transforms runners into a moving rainbow as they’re doused with colored powdered along the course. “It was a fun day … the color stations were good motivation to keep us moving, and we were a powdery mess at the finish line,” said one local runner who ran a color run last year. Wear white, grab some goggles and sign up for a groovy good time. 

If you’ve always wanted to streak down the streets of Orlando half-naked, sign up for Cupid’s Undie Run on Feb. 13. This brief one-mile run finishes with a party and raises money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. What’s not to love? 

Up for a Challenge?

Run through an obstacle course and test your skill (Courtesy of Warrior Dash)

Leap over fire, slither through mud and scale the Great Warrior wall. Expect this and more in the Warrior Dash, a 5K adventure race near Orlando in Clermont on Feb. 6. Finishers earn a fuzzy warrior helmet, cold beer and a medal that doubles as a bottle opener. 

Use both brains and brawn in the City Quest Urban Adventure Race on Feb. 27. Starting in downtown Orlando, teams make their way through a series of physical and intellectual challenges as they try to decipher a list of clues and riddles, calling on technology and friends for help in finishing this amazing race. 

The Florida Sea to Sea 72-hour Adventure Race on March 3 will test contestants’ stamina and sanity as sleep-deprived racers trek, bike, paddle and navigate their way through this course starting in Cocoa Beach on the Atlantic Ocean, just 60 miles east of Orlando. There’s a relay category for the feint of heart. 

Categories: Metropoly