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11 San Diego Running Events to Attend Each Year

Pound the pavement with one or all of these fun, challenging, and iconic running events starting this April
San Diego running event participants at the Pacific Beach Half Marathon
Photo Courtesy of Pacific Beach Half Marathon

For some runners, having races on your calendar keeps you honest—you’re less likely to skip a run if you know you have a race coming up. And regularly crossing finish lines can push you to run longer distances or faster, which gradually builds your fitness. Even Olympian runner Molly Huddle has talked about “racing back to fitness” after having a baby.

Thanks to our just-about-perfect weather conditions all year long, San Diego is a great place to train for and participate in varying distances to test your skills and attempt a distance you may have never thought possible. From 5Ks to 10Ks, half- and full marathons, runners can find every type of race to work on a PR.

Below are 10 San Diego road races with distances up to 26.2 miles going on throughout the year:

San Diego annual running event the Carlsbad 5000
Courtesy of Carlsbad 5000

San Diego 5K Runs

Carlsbad 5000

Date: April 6 | Distance: 3.1 mi. | Cost: $45

This 5K race through downtown Carlsbad and along the ocean is known as the world’s fastest because many world records have been set there. The course is fast and there are tons of spectators to give you a motivational push.

San Diego Beach & Bay

Date: April 12 | Distance: 3.1 mi. | Cost: $40

This flat and fast 5K around Fiesta Island is helpful for runners to get ready for longer distances in a few months. The course also has a half marathon and 10K option if you’re ready for a longer distance, but no need to push it.

San Diego annual running event Navy Bay Bridge Run in Coronado
Courtesy of Navy Bay Bridge Run

San Diego 10K Runs & Under

Navy Bay Bridge Run

Date: May 19 | Distance(s): 4 mi.

May brings you to a slightly longer distance–4 miles–and gives you the unique chance to run up and over the Coronado Bridge. It’s a challenge, because the bridge is steeper than it looks, but the Navy band plays at the top to motivate you. Plus, the views can’t be beat.

Gaslamp Run 10K

Date: Aug 4 | Distance: 6.1 mi | Cost: $49

If you’re ready to race longer distances, try this 10K course around downtown San Diego. The course is not totally flat and includes some twists and turns, so be ready for an extra challenge.

San Diego annual running event the Balboa 8 Miler race

Courtesy of Balboa 8 Miler

San Diego Half Marathons & Under

Crown City Classic

Date: July 4 | Distance: 7.4 mi | Cost: $59

This annual 4th of July race in Coronado gives you the opportunity to race another 5K, or the very unusual 12K distance (or about 7.4 miles…get it?) Stick around after the race for the island’s parade and 4th of July festival.

Balboa Park 8 Miler

Date: August 5 | Distance: 8 mi. | $65

This race started by San Diego Track Club in 1955 is now one of the oldest races in the United States. It gives you a chance to try a longer distance, and takes you through a scenic course around Balboa Park.

America’s Finest City Half Marathon

Date: August 18 | Distance: 13.1 mi. | Cost: $149

If your running has been going well and you’re ready for a big challenge, try this beautifully scenic half marathon that starts at Cabrillo Point and ends in Balboa Park. There are some serious uphills and downhills along the way, but the historic course makes it worthwhile.

Pacific Beach Half Marathon

Date: October 5 | Distance: 13.1 mi. | Cost: $100

If you don’t want the hills in the AFC Half Marathon, or need a little more time to train, this race around Mission Bay is a great option. It’s flat and fast, and the cool ocean breezes should help with San Diego’s notoriously hot fall weather.

San Diego annual running event the Rock 'N' Roll Marathon

San Diego Marathons

Kit Carson Marathon

Date: November 17 | Distance: 26.2 mi. | Cost: $140-$150

This low-key race in Escondido takes you on a gentle rolling hills course as you run laps around the park. You can compete and run the full marathon yourself, or break it up among a team of runners to compete as a relay race.

Carlsbad Marathon

Date: January 19 | Distance: 26.2 mi. | Cost: $139

This winter marathon has perfect weather–cool and sunny, usually–and a beautiful ocean course to help you pass the miles enjoyably—as much as you can during 26.2 miles. The race is also a Boston Marathon qualifier and a great course to set new PR.

San Diego Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon

Date: June 1 | Distance: 26.2 mi. | Cost: $103

The San Diego Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon is one of the city’s most anticipated running events and among its most challenging. The race features a 5K, half marathon, or a full 26.2-mile course through the streets of downtown San Diego. The full marathon kicks off on Sixth Avenue, adjacent to Balboa Park, and winds through Mission Valley along the San Diego River, ultimately finishing at Ash Street in Little Italy. Each year, the event attracts nearly 30,000 runners from across the US.

By Claire Trageser

Claire Trageser has been writing for San Diego Magazine for 10 years. She also is a reporter at KPBS and writes for The New York Times, National Geographic, Marie Claire, Elle and Runner's World.

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