7 Epic Downhill Races Your PR Will Thank You For

7 Epic Downhill Races Your PR Will Thank You For

If you're looking for a change of pace (literally and figuratively), look no further than these seven speedy races worthy of any racer's bucket list.

According to USA Track & Field (our sport's governing body), to be "record eligible," any running race course must not have a net decrease in elevation (or "Drop") from start to finish exceeding 1 part per thousand (i.e., 1m per km). This means that though you can't log your insanely fast results in the world record book, feel free to mark these PRs as legit since all these courses are USATF-approved.

Looking for a downhill Boston-qualifier with incredible mountain vistas and favorable Arizona winter weather? Look no further than the Tucson Marathon. Boasting a 12.42 Drop overall, the Tucson isn't all downhill. You'll enjoy some hills and inclines between miles 2-4 and miles 10-12, as well as mile 24. And just like the changing elevations, race day weather varies through the day, starting cold (in the 30's on average), warming up as you go, and ending near 70 degrees. In this way, the Tucson is the perfect race choice for the sophisticated running palate < Chef's Kiss>.

Tucson Marathon

Measuring at a respectable 16.26 Drop, North Carolina's Downhill at Dawn Half Marathon isn't the steepest of the bunch but provides a gorgeous Black Mountain backdrop that makes it one of the more popular half marathons in the region. The race takes runners on their personal record quest on a combo of paved and wooded gravel roads and ends in the Town of Old Fort. The Downhill at Dawn is limited to 500 runners, so expect this one to sell out.

Home to some of the most picturesque views in America, La Jolla, California, is a runner's dream. So if you're in the area or looking for a killer destination race, check out the La Jolla Shores 5K. With a 21.52 Drop on a mostly downhill course, you can enjoy the best views from the last 3.1 miles of the half marathon course without any of those pesky summit climbs that the 13.1 contingent will be grinding out.

La Jolla Shores 5K

Celebrate your freedom to run fast AF at the Tacoma Independence Day 5K in Washington state. A swift, downhill point-to-point course with a Drop of 20.24 that takes runners from the top of Tacoma and finishes at beautiful Point Ruston on the banks of the Puget Sound.

The highest downhill half marathon in the country, the Slacker Half Marathon in Georgetown, Colorado, has a USATF-certified Drop of 33 and a natural backdrop that will ensure this one becomes a yearly habit. As you're careening down the mountain, be sure not to miss the visual candy surrounding you- From wetlands and waterfalls to stunning views of the Continental Divide and historical mining remnants. 

Slacker Half Marathon

And what respectable list would be complete without a 10K offering? Everyone knows it's the best distance! Why aren't there more 10Ks? Anyone? Ugh! Anyways, that's a discussion for another day, I suppose. So, the Utah Summer Games 10K with a Drop of 23.1 starts in the beautiful Cedar Canyon and runs along an asphalt road, and the finish line is on the grass at the main street park. This fast downhill course is hosted by Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah. 

Last, but certainly not least, if you're looking for ludicrous speed, we head to the southern Appalachians in Georgia for the Tear Drop 5K. At a whopping 66.4 Drop, you better prep your quads for this one. On race day, you'll head to the top of Fort Mountain (nearly 3,000 feet in elevation) and run 2 miles at a 5-10% grade downhill on all pavement. If you ask them, they say running down that decline will cut between 00:40-01:20 off your mile race pace. If you ask me, who said you have to run? Just tuck and roll down the mountain, Sonic the Hedgehog-style and go for the course record. 

Tear Drop 5K

Hopefully, you can register and complete a few of these memorable in-person races and add some spice to your race calendars. So as you train and prepare for your next race day, SIGN UP for the DIYRACE email newsletter. You'll get the inside track on the release of the DIYRACE app coming late 2022 and the opportunity to join the exclusive preview. Be among the first to join our live virtual races and Spdwrk interval training. 

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