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To most people, the idea of paying $30 to run 13 miles—at six in the morning, no less—is absurd and insane. Most of the time the rewards, other than some passing endorphins, involve a stale bagel, a sweat-soaked charity t-shirt, and an Instagram post that your friends won't see until after brunch. If you're going to run three—let alone 13—miles, the payoff should at least be worth the effort you put in. These are the courses where you can actually expect to have a good time—and a couple of beers—while nursing sore quads at the finish line.
The Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon, New York City
May 20, 2017
There's a reason the Brooklyn Half, America's largest half-marathon, sells out in under 30 minutes. Sure, the 13.1-mile course takes you through Prospect Park and Brooklyn's Botanic Garden. But it's the final stretch along Coney Island's boardwalk—and the promise of Nathan's hot dogs at the finish—that keeps people moving. More than 50,000 racers will eventually find their way to the post-race party at MCU Park, where there's typically beer—Brooklyn Brewery, of course—and a Jimmy Buffet cover band to help lower your resting heart rate back to normal.
Bay to Breakers, San Francisco
May 21, 2017
Held since 1912, this 12K race—about 7.5 miles—is San Francisco's version of Mardi Gras except way move virtuous. Your costume tends to be more important than your finish time. Runners plod along the Embarcadero to the finish line at Ocean Beach. And if you can make it that far, it's worth the trouble—you'll be treated to a raucous beach party with lots of beer, bands, and plenty of swag.
Harpoon Five-Miler, Boston
May 21, 2017
Five miles does't seem that far when you know there's a keg party at the finish line. This annual race attracts nearly 4,000 runners who compete individually or as part of a "six-pack" relay team. Top finishers are crowned with hops and awarded a gold medal mug and a brew. The faster you run, the less time you'll spend waiting in line for an icy Harpoon IPA at the brewery's after party.
May 29, 2017
Named "America's All-Time Best 10K" by Runner's World, the Bolder Boulder draws more than 50,000 runners and 70,000 spectators—more than most major marathons. While the views of the Flatirons are great and all, the real reward is the crowd that greets you at the finish at Colorado University's Folsom Field. Grab a beer, have a seat, and wait for the fighter jets to fly over.
The Bend Beer Chase 50-Mile Relay, Bend, OR
June 3, 2017
Think of the Bend Beer Chase as a brewery tour on foot. Your six-person relay team runs 50 miles and back, stopping at more than 20 craft breweries like Deschutes and 10 Barrel Brewing Co., along the way. Fifty miles may seem nuts, but each relay member only runs two legs, which vary from four to eight miles. And each time you exchange runners at a brewery, you get to rehydrate with a 4-ounce sample. There's also an option to run a final, 2.8-mile "keg leg" through downtown Bend. Why run more? Because it adds six more craft breweries in less than 3 miles—and a shuttle to the after party, provided you're still standing.
Keep Austin Weird Fest & 5K, Austin
June 24, 2017
Sometimes the race is the party. Dubbed the "Slowest 5K on the Planet," the Keep Austin Weird 5K is more ridiculous obstacle course than road race. If you're old enough to remember Double Dare, you can finally fulfill some childhood fantasies: Runners are forced to complete 15 obstacles ranging from ice cream eating competitions to a dunk booth. Shot stations replace the usual Gatorade stops—but since the "race" kicks off at 6 pm, you can safely consider it pre-gaming.
Jazz Half Marathon & 5K, New Orleans
October 28, 2017
The course passes a bunch of famous Big Easy spots—including St. Charles Avenue, the mansion-lined Garden District, and the French Quarter. (There's also a 5K option if 13.1 is too daunting.) Jazz musicians play along the course and at the finish, where you can set to work finding a bowl of jambalaya and a cold Abita Springs Purple Haze to replenish the lost calories.
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