Biggest Running Events and Marathons 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:
(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. A 10K distantce will be offered this year and the event also includes an easy-going, out-and-back 5K. A complimentary post-race meal is served to all contestants. The 2020 event will be held April 5, and the Annadel 5K will raise money to build new trails in Taylor Mountain Regional Park.
(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.
(May): Take a thrilling run along the most beautiful coastal redwood trails in California, among ancient trees that are more than 300 feet high. Pacific Coast Trail Runs present the Armstrong Redwoods Trail Run, their annual running event through Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve and the Austin Creek State Recreation Area. Choose the 50K, 36K, 26K, or 10K; this event is capped at 200 runners and starts in Armstrong Redwoods. The routes continue into Austin Creek where there are some technical challenges, including a few creek crossings. This pristine trail may offer an abundance of wildlife. The 50K and 36K distances will enjoy another loop through the redwoods.
(May): Run Wine Country's 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 under the oaks at Keiser Park.
(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 5 mile run. There is an optional 20K Sprint cycling distance for those working their way up to the Olympic distance triathlon.
(June): Starting and finishing on Sonoma's historic plaza, this race celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2017. It offers a certified 10K, 3.5K Run/Walk, a Half Marathon, and a Kids Dash for ages 9 and under. All courses run through town and into the surrounding bucolic countryside, which is laden with vineyards.
(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 race is always held on July 4.
(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, on a 50K route, with a barbecue atmosphere at the finish line in Salt Point State Park. The event is capped at 200 runners to keep its intimate appeal.
(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. The event runs all weekend with the 5K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday. Runners can pair the two events and get a special gift. Many fun accompanying weekend events are always on the agenda.
(August): Getting bigger and better each year, this race offers a 5K and 10K on Saturday and a half marathon and marathon on Sunday. The full and half marathons take 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. After both days of running, the fun continues with the Santa Rosa Beer Fest.
(September). The half marathon, 10K, and 5K race run beautiful courses through bucolic farm country and rolling hills dotted with plenty of cows — everything starts and ends in historic Petaluma's downtown, and all finishers receive a unique cowbell medal.
(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.
(October): Run through the Alexander and Dry Creek valleys for an end of wine harvest and Halloween themed races. The fall-colored vineyards will glow in the warm sunshine and you're bound to see some fun characters on the course. The Half Marathon course is very scenic and easy to medium difficulty, with gentle rolling terrain on backcountry roads, starting at Francis Ford Coppola Winery and ending at the Warm Springs Recreation Area. The Hallowine 10K starts at Francis Ford Coppola Winery and ends at Martorana Family Winery. Both the Hallowine 5K and Kids & Dogs Costume Run start and finish at the Warm Springs Recreation Area. A Wine & Music Festival follows the race, so stick around for the Costume Contest and Awards Ceremony.
Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez.