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 2018 event will be held April 7, and will raise money to help rebuild trails, bridges, and map display cases damaged in the October 2017 wildfires both in Trione-Annadel and in Taylor Mountain Regional Park. 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 2018 race will take place on May 8. 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 2018 dates are May 5 and 6. More info.
Windsor Town Green Half Marathon – Run Wine Country
(May): This is the first of two half marathon races by Run Wine Country (the other, Healdsburg Half Marathon in October, is 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.
Ironman Santa Rosa
(May): The former Ironman Vineman Triathlon in Windsor relocated to Santa Rosa in 2017. 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 2018 event is scheduled for May 12. More info.
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 2018 race will be held June 10. More info.
Hit the Road Jack Run
(June): Starting and finishing on Sonoma’s historic plaza, this race celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2017. It offers a half marathon, certified 10K, 3.5K Run/Walk, 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. The 2018 race will be held June 3. 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 2018 race is scheduled for July 4. More info.
Napa to Sonoma Wine Country 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 2018 race takes place on July 14. 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, with 50K, 26K, 15K, and 9K routes. The event is capped at 200 runners to keep its intimate appeal. The 2018 event is set for July 14. More info.
Santa Rosa Marathon
(August): Getting bigger and better each year, this race celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2018 with special limited-edition double-spinner medals, race swag, and a bottle of Deloach Vineyards wine for every marathon and half marathon winner. 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. All races start in Santa Rosa’s Juilliard Park. The 2018 race will be held Aug. 26. More info.
Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa
(July): In 2017 the former Ironman Vineman 70.3 in Windsor relocated a few miles away and became 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 2018 event is scheduled for July 28. More info.
Petaluma Clo-Cow Half Marathon & 5K
(September). The half marathon, 10K, and 5K race run beautiful courses 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 2018 race will be held Sept. 16. More info.
Healdsburg Half Marathon & 5K Run Wine Country
(October): This is the second of two half marathon races by Run Wine Country (the other, Windsor Town Green Half Marathon, is 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 2018 race is scheduled for Oct. 14. 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 2018 race is scheduled for Oct. 21. More info.
Healdsburg Wine Country 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 2018 race is on Oct. 26. More info.
Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez.