The Rundown On Winter Marathons

Canceling November’s ING New York City Marathon means that thousands of athletes are still in shape to run that seemingly endless 26.2-mile race. Sure, completing a marathon mid-winter may seem less than ideal in most cities, but we’ve scouted three races known for great weather even when the rest of the country is shivering. As of Dec. 12, all three of these marathons were accepting runners and, if you act fast, you could still snag a hotel room, too.

ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon

Jan. 27, 2013

Most retreat to the Sunshine State in the winter months for the top-notch golf, but runners go for the ING Miami Marathon. It’s a mostly flat route — the only “hills” are bridges — and 30 in-race entertainment stations line the 26.2-mile course. Beginning at AmericanAirlines Arena, the marathon runs through Watson Island and Miami Beach before island hopping for Miles 8 through 10. You’ll wind down to Coconut Grove, only to turn around and head back up Brickell Avenue. The average start temperature is in the low 60s — prime running weather.

Check in here: Book a room at Four Seasons Hotel Miami for luxurious Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star accommodations. The hotel, which is two miles from the start, offers a “Get Fit” welcome amenity (a granola bar, Four Seasons water bottle and a Gatorade) for marathon runners. ING Miami Marathon runners also qualify for a special rate, starting at $339 per night.

Livestrong Austin Marathon and Half Marathon

Feb. 17, 2013

It’s one of the hardest courses we’ve run, with hills dominating the layout. But the Livestrong Austin Marathon also boasts great weather, since Austin’s winter is on the mild side. Starting at the Texas Capitol building, the course gains around 14 feet per mile for the first 17 miles; but the good news is that the back nine are downhill. After the first five miles of steadily running uphill, you’ll turn onto South First Street for a bit of downhill action (try to resist stopping at Torchy’s Tacos). The scenic race also features a host of local bands along the route to keep you motivated.

Check in here: There are hotels closer to the starting point, but they aren’t as quiet as Four Seasons Hotel Austin — and when you’re trying to rest up before a marathon, serenity is a must. The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel is near the Expo, which is across Lady Bird Lake and 1.2 miles to the start (a perfect warm-up to the race).

Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon & Half Marathon

Feb. 24, 2013

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series is known for being fun (as fun as a marathon can be, of course), and the New Orleans rendition will be no different. The course is flat, fast and fun — there’s live music at every mile. Starting in the city’s business district, you’ll run down St. Charles Avenue to Loyola University and Audubon Park before heading back up to jog through the French Quarter. Going toward Lake Pontchartrain, you’ll pass by City Park and continue along Lakeshore Drive before crossing the finish line at Roosevelt Mall in City Park. Though the start and finish line are about five miles apart, the race will provide shuttles back to the start area.

Check in here: The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans is a half-mile from the start of the race, so you can sleep just a little bit longer. The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel sits on the edge of the French Quarter and has a Four-Star spa that will ease your muscles after the big day.

Photos Courtesy of ING Miami-Mara Patterson, ASI Photo and Rock ‘N Roll New Orleans

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