With its beautiful, varied terrain and extensive back-country roads, Sonoma County is a runner’s paradise. Which is precisely why so many major running events are held here throughout the year.
If you’re a runner and plan to visit Sonoma County this year, consider signing up for a race. You’ll have a wonderful experience — running through vineyards, redwood trees, along the ocean, and almost always in sight of nearby mountains. Then you get to return home with a finisher’s medal and bragging rights.
Here’s the yearly lineup:
Annadel Half Marathon & 5K
(April): Held in beautiful Trione-Annadel State Park, this event features a challenging half marathon on a hilly course, with a more than 1,500-foot elevation gain. It also includes an easy-going, out-and-back 5K. A complimentary post-race meal is served to all contestants. The 2017 event will be held April 8. More info.
The Sonoma County Human Race
(May): The Sonoma County Human Race is a nationwide community fundraising event for nonprofit organizations and is the largest collaborative fundraising event in Sonoma County as well as the largest Human Race in the nation. Volunteer Center of Sonoma County’s fun, annual 3K and 10K race features fun activities on race day, including the Human Race Marketplace, fun and games area for children, main stage music, entertainment along the race course, and a delicious pancake breakfast. The timed runners race begins at 8 a.m. and fun runners and walkers begin after them. The trail winds through lovely Howarth and Spring Lake parks in Santa Rosa. The 2017 race will take place on May 6. More info.
Armstrong Redwoods / Austin Creek Run
(May): Take a thrilling run along the most beautiful coastal redwood trails in California, amont ancient trees that are more than 300 feet high! Pacific Coast Trail Runs present their annual running event through Armstrong Redwoods State Park and the Austin Creek State Recreation Area for two days this year, due to popular demand. Saturday will have the 50K, 30K, and 17K. Sunday will have a second 17K, and also a 9K and 5K. Camping is encouraged for this one. The 2017 dates are May 6 and 7. More info.
Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa
(May): In 2017 the former Ironman Vineman 70.3 in Windsor is relocating a few miles away and becoming the Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa. It includes a 1.2-mile single-loop swim in Lake Sonoma; a 56-mile cycling course featuring gentle rollers through wine country and quaint towns; and a tree-lined half-marathon along the Santa Rosa Creek trail, with the finish line located in the new Courthouse Square park in downtown Santa Rosa. The 2017 event is scheduled for May 13. More info.
Windsor Town Green Half Marathon – Run Wine Country
(May): The first in a series of three half marathon races (the other two, held in August and October, are Water to Wine and Healdsburg Half Marathons, discussed elsewhere in this article). The Windsor race consists of three different distances: a 13.1-mile half marathon with no walkers allowed; and both 6.2-mile and 3.1-mile events (walkers welcome). All events start and finish at Windsor Town Green. The 2017 race will take place on May 21. More info.
Rodney Strong Monte Rio Triathlon
(June): This Olympic distance triathlon takes place in and around Monte Rio, a small village situated on the Russian River. It consists of a 1.5K (.93 miles) swim, a 40K (24.8 miles) bicycle race and a 10K (6.2 mile) run. An optional 20K Sprint distance was recently added for those working their way up to the Olympic distance triathlon. The 2017 race will be held June 4. More info.
Hit the Road Jack Run
(June): Starting and finishing on Sonoma’s historic plaza, this race is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2017. Last year, they added a Half Marathon to the certified 10K and the 3.5K Run/Walk, and this year there is a new Kids Dash for ages 9 and under. All courses run through town and into the surrounding bucolic countryside, which is laden with vineyards. The 2017 race will be held June 4. More info.
(July): The oldest 10K footrace in California, the Kenwood Footrace also includes a U.S. Track and Field sanctioned/certified 3K race. Held in the Sonoma Valley village of Kenwood; both races start and finish at Kenwood Plaza Park. A post-race event in the park features live music, food, beer, and games. The 2017 race is scheduled for July 4. More info.
Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon
(July): This popular race starts at Napa’s Cuvaison Carneros Winery, winds through the picturesque Carneros wine region on the southern tip of Napa and Sonoma Valleys, and finishes up in historic Sonoma Plaza. A 5K GunBunFunRun, which starts at Gundlach Bundschu Winery and ends in Sonoma Plaza, is also offered. Many fun accompanying weekend events are always on the agenda. The 2017 race takes place on July 16. More info.
Salt Point Trail Run
(July): Run the ancient trails of the Pomo people and take in the gorgeous scenery of Sonoma County's rugged coastline, cliffs, coves, tide pools, and pygmy forests. Choose from two days worth of courses. Saturday will have a 50K, 26K, 15K, and 9K. Sunday will have another 15K and 9K. The event is capped at 200 runners to keep its intimate appeal. The 2017 dates are July 15 and 16. More info.
Santa Rosa Marathon
(August): This race gets bigger and better each year. For 2017, there are four choices over two days. Saturday features a fun 5K and 10K Walk/Run accompanied by Santa Rosa's local celebrities, the Peanuts Gang. Sunday has the Full and Half Marathons, taking you through Santa Rosa and the lovely surrounding countryside. The full marathon is a U.S. Track and Field-sanctioned and certified course, making it a Boston Marathon qualifying race. All races start in Santa Rosa’s Juilliard Park. The 2017 races will be held Aug. 26 and 27, with the always fun post-race Ready Set Growl Beer Festival set for Sunday, Aug. 27. More info.
Ironman Santa Rosa
(July): The former Ironman Vineman Triathlon in Windsor is also relocating to Santa Rosa in 2017, just as the Half Ironman that is set for May. It includes a 2.4-mile single-loop swim in Lake Sonoma; a 112-mile cycling course featuring gentle rollers through wine country and quaint towns; and a tree-lined, two-loop marathon along the Santa Rosa Creek trail, with the finish line located in the new Courthouse Square park in downtown Santa Rosa. The 2017 event is scheduled for July 29. More info.
Water to Wine Half Marathon – Run Wine Country
(August): This event is the second in a series of three half marathon races (the other two, Windsor Town Green and Healdsburg Half Marathons, are discussed elsewhere in this article). Water to Wine starts and ends at Kendall Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens in Fulton, near the Sonoma County Airport. The 2017 race will take place on Aug. 6. More info.
Petaluma Clo-Cow Half Marathon & 5K
(September). This half marathon and 5K race runs a beautiful course through bucolic farm country and rolling hills dotted with plenty of cows — the course starts and ends in historic Petaluma’s downtown. All finishers receive a unique cowbell medal. The 2017 race will be held Sept. 17. More info.
Healdsburg Half Marathon & 5K Run Wine Country
(October): Third in a series of three half marathon races (the other two, Windsor Town Green and Water to Wine Half Marathons, are discussed elsewhere in this article). The Healdsburg event includes two distances: a 13.1-mile half marathon and a 5K race. Runners make their way through Sonoma County’s beautiful Alexander and Dry Creek valleys. At that time of the year, expect to see vineyards decked out in bright autumnal colors. The races start and end in downtown Healdsburg, just north of City Hall. The 2017 race is scheduled for Oct. 8. More info.
Cloverdale Harvest Marathon and 10K
(October): As the sun rises on race day, you’ll head out into the beautiful Alexander Valley. With a mixture of flats and gently rolling hills, the course will take you amongst vineyards resplendent in fall colors, with views of the Russian River valley, with a varied terrain of paved country roads and groomed dirt/gravel country roads. The 2017 race is scheduled for Oct. 22. More info.
Healdsburg Half Marathon and Hallowine 5K
(October): Run through the Alexander and Dry Creek Valleys for an end of wine harvest and Halloween themed race. The fall-colored vineyards will glow in the warm sunshine and you're bound to see some fun characters on the course. If you're not up for a half marathon, join the festivities and run the Hallowine 5K, which is open to adults and kids ages 7 and up. A Wine & Music Festival follows the race, so stick around for the Costume Contest and Awards Ceremony. The 2017 race is on Oct. 28. More info.
Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez.