Our 10 favourite spring running races in Canada
The winter is getting a bit long right about now. Training in the dark and the cold? Enough already! One sure way to help shake off the winter woes is to look forward to spring by planning that first marathon or half marathon. Need a little inspiration, here are some of our favourites.
First run way back in 1894, Hamilton’s Around the Bay Road Race is a perennial favourite rich in tradition and an essential part of the Ontario running scene. And, the course is fantastic as it moves along Hamilton’s natural harbour. Although the signature and gut-wrenching 500-metre hill climb up Valley Inn Road won’t be available this year due to the closure of the pedestrian bridge, this race is still a fantastic way to kick off the season. The atmosphere is electric, the vibes festive and the competition is fierce.
The cute little town of Jasper in the Canadian Rockies hosts this splendid half marathon each year to kick off the season in the mountains of Alberta. Although one might suspect a killer half marathon, given the size of the nearby peaks, but the Jasper Half is relatively flat, and provides the opportunity to soak up the gorgeous surroundings without getting murdered by them on the course. All in all, the perfect spring race — great community spirit and mountain high vibes.
Who doesn’t love the annual Vancouver Sun Run? Although just a 10K, this race brings the masses with tens of thousands expected to attend. It has become one of the largest races in North America. The scenic course highlights Vancouver’s pretty downtown core as well as Stanley Park and English Bay. The crowds are supportive and enthusiastic. Don’t forget the snacks and live music following the race.
Picturesque full and half marathon courses wind through the rural Mennonite countryside. The course features a classic southern Ontario landscape. The hills are mild, the scenery is charmingly rural, and the event is very well organized. The courses are certified by the Athletics Canada/IAAF/USATF, and the Waterloo Marathon is a Boston Qualifier. The race weekend also includes the annual Ed Whitlock Half Marathon. Be sure to stop by theThe Fritter Co. in the St. Jacobs Farmers Market for their legendary apple fritters on the way out of town.
This legendary race is the only marathon in Canada’s largest city that actually takes runners through the many amazing neighbourhoods that make up this great destination. Starting at Mel Lastman Square in North York, this year’s race takes in many great sites such as Casa Loma, Spadina House and the Distillery District. The race finishes up at the Exhibition grounds where the largest team of massage therapists anywhere in the country will be ready to make all the pain go away before you head over to the beer garden for some much-needed relaxation.
The popular Lévis Half-Marathon is the official kick-off for the awesome Je Cours Qc running season. The race is expected to attract more than 5,000 participants to the south shore of Quebec City. The course is fast and mostly downhill, and it offers spectacular views of the St. Lawrence River and the Quebec City skyline. It’s a gorgeous course, in a fantastic city run by some of the best event organizers around.
The Victoria Goddess Run is an amazing and empowering women's running event with a 5K and 10K option, plus a kids run. At least 3,000 women take part in this run and walk event every year — “tutus optional, but smiles are mandatory,” as they say. The race takes place in Langford, BC. It’s a beauty and this year following the race, runner can head through the Lugaro Diamond Maze and be entered to win diamonds and other amazing prizes.
Known as ‘the people’s marathon’, the Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon event offers up seven running events. You'll pass by all of Halifax's points of attraction including the beautiful and historic harbour and Citadel Hill. Be sure to check out the Active Living Expo that includes 70 vendors and more than 80 booths. Oh, and the Alexander Keith’s brewery is right there!
This race, Canada’s longest-running marathon, has been voted Alberta's Best Road Race on multiple occasions and for good reason. This is one well-run event with a beautiful course and definitely hits the mark as a destination race. The Scotiabank Calgary Marathon course is certified by AIMS (Association of International Marathons Society) and by Athletics Alberta and is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. This year, the 50K team relay is returning. All race distances finish at the iconic Stampede grandstand.
The Banff Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K offer one of the planet’s most incredible and beautiful running experiences, all in Canada's first National Park as runners take in the scenery from Vermillion Lakes and the Bow Valley. Return alongside the majestic Bow River and across Banff’s famous bridges. Once the race is complete, since you travelled all this way, might as well hit the Banff Springs Hotel for some authentic Swiss fondue when it’s all over.