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Biggest Running Events in Sonoma County

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. This year, the event revisits its very first year: 1981. For the 35th anniversary, the theme will be the glory and fun of the 1980s. BIG hair and costumes are encouraged! The 2016 race took place on May 7. www.humanracenow.org 

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 2016 race took place on May 22. 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 nearly 30 years old. For 2016 this has become a three-pronged race, with a half marathon added to the 3.5K run/walk and official USATF 10K run that have been held in past years. All courses run through town and into the surrounding bucolic countryside, which is laden with vineyards. The 2016 race was held June 5. 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.

Kenwood Footrace (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

Ironman Vineman Triathlon (July): The oldest independent full-distance triathlon in the continental U.S. is held entirely within Sonoma County. Athletes swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles. The swim is held along the Russian River at Johnson’s Beach in Guerneville. The bike course begins in Guerneville and finishes in Windsor, while the 3-lap/out-and-back run begins and ends in Windsor. The 2017 event is scheduled for July 29. More info.

Santa Rosa Marathon (August): This is a major triple-play event with a full, half, and 5K component. 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 2016 race was held Aug. 28, with a fun post-race beer festival with plenty of food. 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 2016 race took place on Aug. 7. 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 2016 race was held Sept. 18. 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 2016 race is scheduled for Oct. 4. 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 2016 race is scheduled for Oct. 23. More info.

Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez.