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As we inch closer and closer to the official start of summer, we get closer and closer to smokey barbecues, Memorial Day weekend beach trips, sweaty 4th of July runs, and seemingly endless sunshine. What better way to celebrate America’s favorite summer holiday than with a road race that comes with some history? We’re checking out some of the best historic footraces the USA has to offer!
First up is a race weekend that feels like the start of summer, even if the official solstice is a few weeks away. Support and honor 1st Responders by shipping up to Boston this Memorial Day weekend for the Run to Remember. There are few cities in the US with more deep-rooted history than Boston and a weekend trip could be a great way to gear up for summer!
This race weekend offers a 5-mile run and a half marathon that both weave through some of the most historic portions of downtown Boston. Keep your pace up while you run by sites like Faneuil Hall, the Old State House, and Boston Common! As an added bonus, you can also donate a race registration to a participant from one of Boston’s youth running organizations.
One of Atlanta’s quintessential 4th of July traditions is the annual Peachtree run. The footrace is the largest 10k in the country! A humble 150 runners participated in the first run, and now the Peachtree Road Race boasts over 16,000 annual participants and requires a lottery for securing your registration! Stand out from the crowd in these larger races with a patriotic race day costume!
Part of what gives this run so much charm and prestige are all of the cool traditions they have developed over the years. Unlike many races, entrants receive their Peachtree t-shirts once they finish the race. Each year, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution hosts a contest for the design of the shirt. The final designs are put to a public vote in March and the winner and color of the shirt are kept completely secret until the first racer crosses the finish line on race day. Another (newer) tradition comes from AJC partnership with Adidas. In recent years, Adidas has released a limited edition shoe just for the Peachtree race which is then sold online and at the race weekend expo.
For cooler temperatures but a healthy dose of history, close out your summer with Washington Crossing’s half marathon or full marathon options. Chase the Unicorn with a last-minute option to secure your Boston qualifying time or stick to one lap of the course with the Alternate Half Marathon. These races are run concurrently so it also makes for a unique opportunity to complete a certified marathon track with a running buddy whose stamina isn’t quite on par with yours yet!
One of the coolest features of the race is the course itself. This race’s starting and finish lines are located right in Washington Crossing Historic Park - aka where George Washington and the Continental Army crossed the river to defeat the Hessian army, turning the tide of the Revolutionary War. While you may not lay the foundation for the birth of a new country, you may be able to take advantage of this relatively flat course to set a new PR!
For the speed racers out there, the Clawson Firecracker mile is a great choice for an Independence Day run! While not as big as some of the other races on the list, Clawson has drawn in some big names in racing over the years due to their $1,000 cash prize. The catch that keeps these racers coming back for more is that to win the prize, the men’s winner must have a time under 4:00 minutes and the women’s winner must clear 4:30 minutes.
After that mad dash of a mile, Clawson turns the whole day into a celebration. The 4th of July parade starts right after the Firecracker mile, which leads into their all-day Freedom Festival, boasting an arts and crafts fair and food trucks. If you can make it through the entire day, the festival closes out - as all Independence Day parties should - with a fireworks display over the park.
Next on our list is quite literally the most historic race on the list. The YMCA Turkey Trot in Buffalo, NY is the oldest consecutively-run foot race in the entire world, continuing their tradition through multiple health pandemics and multiple world wars. This year’s 5-mile race will mark the 127th annual trot! In more recent years, turkey trots on the morning of Thanksgiving have become one of the most popular races across the country.
Birds of a feather truly do flock together as racers head to these races every year decked out in crazy outfits and ready to earn every single calorie of their dinners later that night. This turkey trot is definitely a good place to try out some of your cutest and wildest running costume ideas as you can be sure that you won’t be alone!
Looking for a local Independence Day run? Check out our Patriotic Virtual Races you can run which help support our troops!