Walking offers a multitude of health benefits from improved heart health and weight loss to reduced stress levels and improved creativity. Partaking in race-walking can be a fun way to test your fitness, whether you’re a beginner or more advanced athlete. Unfortunately, not all running races are walker-friendly. That’s why we’ve rounded up 10 running events — ranging from the 5K to the marathon — that feature relaxed finishing times and scenic courses perfect for walkers.
1. HOLIDAY HUSTLE FUN RUN/WALK
December 23, 2018
This fun 5K race starts and finishes along the scenic Kailu Beach Park in Oahu. Participants are encouraged to leave their devices and watches at home and don festive holiday sweaters; the best outfit wins a prize. This is a great event to do with your family and can help you stay on track during the holidays.
2. WALT DISNEY WORLD MARATHON
January 9–13, 2019
Open to runners and walkers, this entertaining Disney-style race through the park in Orlando has a more relaxed finishing time (7 hours) compared to most other marathons. This requires a moderate pace of 16 minutes per mile to finish. There’s also a 3:30 time limit for the half marathon and a 10K option.
3. ROCK N’ ROLL SERIES NEW ORLEANS
New Orleans, Louisiana
February 10, 2019
If you’re in need of motivation to get you to the finish, this event with cheer teams and tons of live music every mile should do the trick. For walkers, there is a 7-hour time limit for the marathon, a 4-hour limit for the half-marathon and a 2-hour limit for the 10K. Whichever distance you choose, expect a flat course that goes by historic homes and landmarks, plus a lively post-race party.
4. BAY TO BREAKERS
San Francisco, California
May 19, 2019
This iconic San Francisco race dates back to 1912 and is one of the best ways to take in the Bay. The 12K course passes through nine neighborhoods designed to showcase the city’s geographical landmarks, including the Embarcadero and Ocean Beach as well as the iconic Hayes Street Hill. While many runners are serious about finishing with a top time, there are plenty of walkers and other participants who dress in wild costumes, which adds to the event’s fun vibe.
5. NEW RIVER HALF-MARATHON
Fleetwood, North Carolina
June 8, 2019
This race in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina follows a course along the New River that treks through farms, a few gravel paths and plenty of quaint mountain communities. Other than being one of the most beautiful races you’ll find, this race is ideal for walkers because there aren’t many climbs to navigate and the time limit for the 13.1 is 5:45.
6. BURN YOUR HALF OFF
July 6, 2019
This flat course on a paved path heads out along the Tennessee River before passing the Chickamauga Dam and the Chattanooga State campus. Whether you choose the 13.1-mile half-, the 10k or 5k, this relaxed, non-competitive event has a manageable 8-hour time limit for all finishers.
7. PORTLAND TO COAST WALK RELAY
August 23–24, 2019
The largest walking-relay event in the world, this race is 132 miles in length and consists of 400 teams of 6–12 walkers. While it won’t be easy, the good news is you’ll get a day to reach the coast from the starting point in Portland, Oregon, and when you reach the finish you can expect an incredible post-race celebration to reward your efforts.
8. BOSTON MARATHON JIMMY FUND WALK
September 22, 2019
Following the footsteps of the iconic Boston Marathon, this walk traverses the same course and is open to roughly 8,500 participants. In addition to the classic 26.2-mile course, walkers can also opt for shorter distances including a 5K, 10K or half-marathon. Plus, you can feel good about the race entry fee since proceeds help raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
9. WHISTLESTOP HALF-MARATHON
October 12-13, 2019
Along with a dedicated 5K and 10K run/walk, the half-marathon features a manageable 6-hour time limit for dedicated walkers. The course is flat and easy, beginning on the Iron River in Ashland, Wisconsin, and finishing on the scenic Lake Superior south shore. Festive blues music and spectacular fall colors along the course are other highlights of the event.
10. GRAND RAPIDS MARATHON
Grand Rapids, Michigan
October 20, 2019
This scenic race crosses the historic Sixth Street Bridge for sweeping views of the river and doesn’t have a time limit, making it truly walker-friendly. For the half-marathon or full 26.2, walkers will be allowed to begin an hour before the runners to avoid congestion and the chaos of the mass start. The event also has a relay option if you’d like to recruit some friends, and the course is one of the flattest and fastest you’ll find anywhere.