So many factors go into making a race a stand out: a plate-size finisher’s medal; brag-worthy swag; loads of high-fiving spectators; a connection you make with another runner on the course. For me (Sarah), it’s the scenery that stays with me long after I’ve donated the race tee to Goodwill. 

I’m a sucker for a race with watery vistas: waves crashing against Stanley Park Seawall at Vancouver Marathon; sunlight dancing on Lake Harriet in Twin Cities Marathon; the Willamette River from numerous bridges during Portland Marathon. 

So I was curious what race-day scenes stand out in the minds of my Another Mother Runner colleagues. Here’s an album of their answers. 

The North Face Endurance Challenge—California 

“This 50K was my first ultra event, and I chose it specifically for the views. This race had everything: the ocean, the forest, a staircase on the Dipsea Trail, hills and elevation galore, and a final mile across the Golden Gate Bridge. Yes, the race hurt, but some of my best running memories come from that day.”
—Cathy Engstrom, Train Like a Mother Club website manager

Key West Half Marathon

“You run the whole island along the coastline and in the city through Duval Street. So you get the beauty of the coastline, then the town’s party atmosphere. Plus, you are at the tip of the continent!”
—Brandi Dockett (center), Many Happy Miles strength instructor

Bryce Canyon 100

“This area of Utah is breathtaking. The hoodoos are unlike anything you can describe and must be seen in person to appreciate them.”
—Christy Scott, Train Like a Mother Club Trail + Ultra Coach

Newport 10-Miler

“The course starts in a state park, the centerpiece of which is a historic fort that sits right in the middle of Newport Harbor. The first mile runs through quiet neighborhoods filled with beautiful homes, then you turn on to aptly named Ocean Drive and run with the ocean on your right for the entirety of miles 3 – 6. Miles 7 and 8, you run alongside the famed Newport mansions, then the final two miles lead you back to the state park, where you run through a stone tunnel to finish inside the walls of the fort. So many beautiful things to look at all along the course—it’s a stunner.”
—Michelle San Antonio, Community Supporter 

New York City Marathon

“So sue me! This Southern gal was awed by the sights and sounds of the Big Apple. Each borough definitely has its own flavor.”
—Ellison Weist (right), podcast co-host

IRONMAN World Championship

“The wind blowing through the silent, black lava and the winds whipping across the Pacific Ocean, all while trying not to melt due to the heat on the Queen K [highway], running the marathon—it helps!”
—Jennifer Harrison,
Heart + Sole and Triathlon Programs Coach

Big Sur 11-Miler

“Gorgeous ocean views that make you forget about the big hills you are taking on. I also loved running through the oceanfront neighborhood to get a little glimpse of how the other half lives.
—April Hopkins, Train Like a Mother Club customer service

How about you: Have a favorite race with splendid scenery?
Let us know in the comments.