Best Half Marathons in Minnesota

Half Marathons in Minnesota for running races

Minnesota, often referred to as the ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes’, boasts more than just breathtaking waterways. Interestingly, it’s also a running paradise. The state’s diverse terrains, from rolling plains to dense forests, offer perfect backdrops for half marathons. What’s more, each race is infused with a blend of Minnesota’s rich culture and its residents’ infectious enthusiasm.

Venturing into the heart of the state, many of these races provide runners an opportunity to traverse scenic routes. Moreover, the cool climate, especially in the fall, makes for ideal running conditions. Whether it’s the urban landscapes of Twin Cities or the serene trails in Mankato, there’s a half marathon tailored for every enthusiast.

Additionally, Minnesota’s half marathons are known for their meticulous organization. From the starting line ambiance to the post-race festivities, every detail is crafted for the participant’s experience. Indeed, the emphasis on community involvement ensures spirited cheering sections and unparalleled support throughout the course.

To sum it up, embarking on a half marathon in Minnesota is not just about the race. Rather, it’s an immersive experience into the state’s beauty, culture, and warm community. Truly, each stride taken is a step deeper into what makes Minnesota special.

Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

Location: Duluth, MN
Date: January

The Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, named in honor of Minnesota’s long-distance running legend, is a hallmark event in Duluth. Held annually, this race is a precursor to the famed Grandma’s Marathon and showcases the best of Duluth’s scenic vistas. The course begins near Two Harbors, offering participants panoramic views of Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes.

Upon setting off, runners trace the North Shore, staying parallel to the majestic coastline of Lake Superior. The sparkling blue water serves as a serene backdrop, adding to the race’s overall ambiance. Similarly, the gentle crash of waves on the shore provides a rhythmic motivation for runners to continue pushing forward.

As participants advance through the course, they pass through quaint neighborhoods and dense woodland areas. This mix of urban and natural landscapes keeps the scenery varied and captivating. Runners often comment on the cool breeze coming off the lake, which can be a welcome relief, especially during warmer race days.

The final stretch of the half marathon merges with the Grandma’s Marathon course, bringing runners into the heart of Duluth. Cheering crowds and the palpable excitement of the city await at the finish line in Canal Park. With the iconic Aerial Lift Bridge in view, participants can relish their achievement amidst the city’s vibrant energy.

Bemidji Blue Ox Half Marathon

Location: Bemidji, MN
Date: October

The Bemidji Blue Ox Half Marathon is a celebrated event in the picturesque town of Bemidji, Minnesota. Taking place annually, this race attracts runners who are eager to experience the natural beauty of northern Minnesota. The course offers a mix of landscapes, making it both a challenging and visually appealing route for participants.

Starting in Bemidji, runners immediately feel immersed in the area’s lush greenery. Tall pine trees and dense forests line the initial miles, offering shade and a refreshing atmosphere. As participants progress, the course reveals glimpses of serene lakes, a testament to Minnesota’s title as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”.

The midpoint of the race showcases Bemidji’s urban charms. Runners pass through well maintained neighborhoods, where local residents often come out to cheer and support. The community spirit is palpable, providing an added boost of energy for those in the race.

As the finish line nears, participants loop back to the heart of Bemidji. Here, the stunning view of Lake Bemidji awaits, serving as a fitting end to a rewarding journey. The shimmering waters and lakeside parks offer a scenic backdrop, allowing runners to finish on a high note.

Mankato Half Marathon

Location: Mankato, MN
Date: October

The Mankato Half Marathon is a prominent running event held in Mankato, Minnesota. Every year, it draws numerous participants, eager to tackle the diverse terrain and enjoy the city’s scenic beauty. From urban landscapes to natural wonders, this course truly offers runners a unique experience.

Initially, the race begins in the heart of Mankato. Runners navigate through the city’s streets, experiencing its blend of modern structures and historical landmarks. This urban setting offers a flat and fast start, perfect for those looking to set a brisk pace. Moreover, the local community often lines the streets, cheering and offering support, boosting runners’ morale.

Transitioning from the urban setting, the course then leads participants into the serene Minnesota River valley. Here, the landscape shifts to tree-lined trails and stunning river views. The sound of rushing water and the sight of fall foliage, particularly in October, creates an almost meditative running environment.

As the race concludes, runners head back towards the city center. The final stretch allows for a strong finish, with spectators cheering on from every corner. Crossing the finish line, participants can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment, having experienced the diverse beauty Mankato has to offer.

Northshore Half Marathon

Location: Duluth, MN
Date: September

The Northshore Half Marathon in Duluth is a highlight on many runners’ calendars, renowned for its breathtaking vistas alongside Lake Superior. As the event begins, participants are immediately treated to the panoramic views of the world’s largest freshwater lake. This picturesque backdrop is a constant companion, setting the tone for a uniquely beautiful race.

Initially, runners embark on a smooth, paved trail that hugs the Lake Superior shoreline. This stretch is relatively flat, with the calming waves on one side and lush woodland on the other. The refreshing lake breeze and the rhythmic sound of waves crashing provide a tranquil ambiance, allowing runners to find their rhythm with ease.

However, as the race progresses, participants face a series of moderate inclines and declines. These rolling hills challenge endurance and pacing, but they also offer changing viewpoints of the shimmering lake and Duluth’s skyline. Spectators often line these sections, offering enthusiastic support and further energizing the competitors.

Concluding the race, the course gradually levels out, leading participants back towards the bustling heart of Duluth. The town’s community comes out in full force, cheering and celebrating as runners approach the finish line. With the combination of natural beauty and community spirit, the Northshore Half Marathon in Duluth remains an unforgettable running experience.

Get in Gear Half Marathon

Location: Minneapolis, MN
Date: April

The Get in Gear Half Marathon is a staple event in Minnesota, celebrated for its organized course and lively atmosphere. The race kicks off in Minneapolis near Minnehaha Falls, a local gem and picturesque starting point. As participants set off, the thundering waterfalls provide an invigorating backdrop. The initial miles wend through tree-lined streets, giving runners a suburban feel mixed with natural beauty.

As the race progresses, runners approach the Mississippi River, a key highlight of the course. Following paths that run adjacent to this majestic river, participants enjoy flat terrains and expansive water views. The sight of boats sailing and the Minneapolis skyline in the distance serve as visual treats. Additionally, the mid-course brings spectators cheering from park benches and grassy knolls, lifting runners’ spirits.

Yet, it’s not just about river views. The course also meanders through residential neighborhoods, displaying the architectural charm of the city. Here, local residents often come out to support, turning their front yards into mini cheer stations. This community involvement creates a warm, encouraging environment, especially during the more challenging stretches.

Drawing closer to the finish, the energy becomes palpable. The crowd grows thicker, and the sound of cheers reverberates. Rounding the final bends and heading back towards Minnehaha Falls, participants feel a full-circle moment. The sense of accomplishment, combined with the event’s scenic allure, makes this half marathon truly memorable.

City of Lakes Marathon

Location: Minneapolis, MN
Date: September

The City of Lakes Half Marathon is a scenic race that celebrates the beauty of Minneapolis. Starting at Lake Harriet, runners are immediately greeted with shimmering waters and lush surroundings. The first miles provide a serene experience, with tranquil lake views setting the tone. The pathways are well-maintained, ensuring a smooth run amidst nature’s splendor.

Transitioning from Lake Harriet, participants approach Lake Calhoun. This larger lake offers expansive views, with sailboats dotting the horizon. The well-trodden paths around Lake Calhoun are popular among locals, adding a communal vibe to the race. Moreover, the flat terrain around the lake aids runners in maintaining a steady pace.

After Lake Calhoun, the race takes runners to Lake of the Isles. Characterized by its unique shape and stunning homes lining its perimeter, this section offers architectural beauty. The winding paths, combined with occasional bridge crossings, add variety to the course. Friendly spectators often line the banks, cheering and offering words of encouragement.

Approaching the final stretch, runners circle back towards Lake Harriet. The familiar sights and sounds of the starting point evoke feelings of nostalgia. With the finish line in sight and the waters reflecting the sky, a sense of accomplishment washes over participants. Overall, the City of Lakes Half Marathon provides a picturesque tour of Minneapolis’s most cherished lakes, making it a must-run event for many.

Scenic Byway River Half Marathon

Location: Belle Plaine, MN
Date: October

The Scenic Byway River Half Marathon is aptly named for its breathtaking course alongside the river’s edge. From the starting line, participants immediately immerse themselves in nature’s beauty. The route is predominantly paved, ensuring a smooth journey for runners. Early on, towering trees on either side create a canopy, shading runners and offering a refreshing ambiance.

As the race progresses, the river becomes the main attraction. The meandering waterway provides a serene backdrop, its gentle flow echoing the rhythm of footsteps. Bridges sporadically dot the course, providing runners with panoramic views. Moreover, these structures often serve as markers, helping participants gauge their progress and distance.

Beyond the river, the surrounding landscapes also captivate participants. Lush meadows, blooming wildflowers, and occasional wildlife sightings enrich the running experience. These natural features are not only visually pleasing but also serve as distractions, making the miles fly by.

Heading towards the finish, the river’s presence remains dominant, a constant companion to every runner. As the end line approaches, the water seems to shimmer brighter, reflecting the pride and achievement of every participant. The Scenic Byway River Half Marathon is not just a race; it’s a journey through nature’s best, leaving runners with lasting memories.

Minneapolis Halloween Half Marathon

Location: Minneapolis, MN
Date: October

The Minneapolis Halloween Half Marathon is an annual event that embraces the spooky spirit of the season. From the start, participants are greeted with festive decorations, setting the tone for the entire race. The course, largely flat and runner-friendly, weaves through the vibrant neighborhoods of Minneapolis. While urban in essence, there are ample green spaces, providing runners with diverse visuals throughout the journey.

Navigating the streets, participants can expect a blend of iconic city landmarks and serene park settings. By incorporating both the urban sprawl and nature’s charm, the race offers an authentic Minneapolis experience. Midway through the course, runners pass by the city’s lakes, where the sparkling waters contrast beautifully with the fall foliage. Spectators, many in Halloween costumes, line the course, cheering on participants and adding a playful touch to the atmosphere.

As the race continues, participants encounter several thematic hydration stations. Here, volunteers in costumes hand out refreshments, making these pit stops both essential and entertaining. The neighborhoods echo the festive theme, with many residents setting up Halloween displays that are both eerie and enchanting. This adds a delightful element of surprise, as runners never know what spooky spectacles await around the next bend.

Drawing closer to the finish line, the energy is palpable. The final stretch is lined with a mix of enthusiastic spectators and ghoulish decorations. As participants cross the line, there’s a sense of accomplishment mixed with festive joy. The Minneapolis Halloween Half Marathon is more than just a race; it’s a celebration, making it a unique and unforgettable experience for all involved.

Gear Western Country Half Marathon

Location: Long Lake, MN
Date: October

The Gear Western Country Half Marathon stands out as a picturesque race, capturing the essence of the American West. Beginning in a charming town setting, participants embark on a journey that offers both challenges and stunning visuals. The course’s terrain is a mix, allowing runners to experience a bit of everything: paved roads, gravel paths, and some gentle inclines. These diverse elements provide runners with a constantly shifting environment, ensuring that there’s never a dull moment throughout the 13.1-mile stretch.

As the race progresses, participants are treated to expansive views of rolling countryside. The wide-open spaces, often dotted with grazing livestock, evoke a serene and timeless feel. Moreover, the majestic sight of distant mountains serves as a backdrop, painting a scene that’s both tranquil and awe-inspiring.

Further along, the course takes runners through patches of woodlands. Here, the canopy provides a welcome respite from the sun, and the soft crunch of leaves underfoot adds to the sensory experience. Wildlife sightings, like deer or birds of prey, are not uncommon in these parts, adding an element of surprise to the race. Additionally, the local community’s support is evident, with many locals coming out to cheer, some even setting up impromptu water stations or playing country tunes.

Approaching the finish line, the energy levels surge. The final stretch back into town is a festive affair with the community’s warm embrace felt by all. Completing the Gear Western Country Half Marathon is not just about athletic achievement, but also about soaking in the heart and soul of the countryside. This race truly offers participants a chance to connect with the land and its rich history.

Stillwater Half Marathon

Location: Stillwater, MN
Date: May

The Stillwater Half Marathon is a captivating race that unfolds in the historic town of Stillwater, Minnesota. Starting in the heart of downtown, the race showcases a unique blend of urban and natural beauty. Runners embark on a journey through charming streets, flanked by well-preserved buildings that speak of the town’s rich past. As the initial miles pass, the atmosphere buzzes with the cheers of enthusiastic spectators lining the course.

Venturing out of the town’s confines, participants soon find themselves running alongside the serene St. Croix River. The river, with its gentle ripples and occasional boats, offers a peaceful contrast to the earlier urban setting. The path here is primarily paved, well-maintained, and often shaded by trees. Consequently, even on sunnier days, runners can enjoy a relatively cool atmosphere, making for a comfortable mid-race experience.

As the miles accumulate, the course introduces runners to a few gentle elevations. These hills, while not overly daunting, challenge the legs and offer variety to the otherwise flat terrain. Amid these inclines, there are pockets of scenic overlooks. These spots provide panoramic views of the river and the surrounding landscapes, serving as a rewarding treat for those pushing through the tougher sections.

The final miles of the Stillwater Half Marathon circle back toward the town, drawing runners closer to the finish with the promise of celebration. The concluding stretch is lined with supporters, their encouragement echoing through the air. Crossing the finish line, participants not only feel a sense of accomplishment but also a deep connection with Stillwater’s beauty and heritage.


Having delved into the half marathons of Minnesota, one can’t help but feel inspired. Indeed, the state’s races are a testament to its rich landscapes and vibrant communities. From the serene pathways alongside the lakes to the bustling city tracks, Minnesota offers a myriad of experiences. Moreover, each race presents a unique challenge, ensuring that every runner, whether novice or seasoned, finds their niche.

Furthermore, it’s the sense of community that truly sets these races apart. Minnesotans come together, not only as participants but as fervent supporters, cheering every stride. The exhilaration of crossing a finish line is magnified by the surrounding cheers, music, and festivities. This camaraderie, combined with the scenic beauty, creates an unforgettable experience.

Additionally, the state’s commitment to organizing impeccable events is commendable. Every half marathon is organized with precision, ensuring safety, enjoyment, and a seamless experience for all. From hydration stations to post-race celebrations, Minnesota’s attention to detail is evident.

In conclusion, Minnesota’s half marathons are more than just races. They are celebrations of endurance, community, and the state’s unparalleled beauty. For those looking to challenge themselves amidst stunning backdrops and supportive crowds, Minnesota beckons. Happy running!

Return to all Minnesota races

Leave a Reply

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: