As an avid runner, this is the time of year I almost get giddy: it's running season (some refer to it as summer). Even though in Minnesota there seems to be a race almost every weekend of the year, the summer races are my favorite. I love the heat, I love the sun, I love the early morning smells of fresh cut grass as I run, I love it all. 

If you have been running for years or just getting started, here are some races this summer that you cannot miss. Many I have participated in, some I have not and some I am definitely going to put on my bucket list. Lace up your shoes, grab that water, put on your headphones and start training for these races. See you on the trail!

1. Stillwater Half Marathon

May 27, 2017

Stillwater

Three different races make up the Stillwater Half Marathon this year, including a 10K. The Half Marathon course takes its participants along the incredibly beautiful Gateway Trail and through the streets of scenic residential Stillwater. The new 10K follows the last 6.2 miles of the Half Marathon course and the 5K course begins at Brown Creek Park. All three races share a common finish line at scenic Pioneer Park overlooking downtown Stillwater, the historic Stillwater Lift Bridge and the soon-to-be-opened St. Croix River Crossing. 

The Stillwater Half Marathon is the first race of the season in the Run Stillwater 2017 series. 

2. Grandma's Marathon

June 17th, 2017

Duluth

Grandma's really is the (grand) mother of all marathons in the midwest. You never know what the weather will be. Raining and cold or hot and steamy or sometimes just right. No matter the conditions, you are guaranteed to see beautiful views of Lake Superior and the sounds of thousands of spectators cheering you on. 

"Since our initial race in 1977, Grandma’s Marathon has grown bigger than just a 26.2-mile race along the scenic North Shore of Minnesota.

It’s a moment where runners of all calibers come together to celebrate the vigor of the human spirit. Where the word “impossible” ceases to exist; a day where 9,000 people are your best running buddy.

So, tie up your laces and join us for the 41st year of memories, miles, and human might".

There is also the Garry Bjorklund half marathon and Wiliam A. Irving 5k. Enjoy Duluth and Two Harbors all weekend long with fun filled before and after marathon events. 

3. Afton Trail Run 50K and 25K

July 1st, 2017

Afton State Park

The Afton Trail Run 50K and 25K Trail Races are one of the most challenging and beautiful trail races anywhere. The races were established in 1994 and are now one of the oldest, largest and most competitive trail races in the country – garnering national attention and attracting runners from all over the United States and beyond.  Runners World says that Afton State Park has some of the most beautiful running trails in the country. The start of the race is near the Visitors Center, in Afton State Park. It is a hilly, 25K loop (two loops for the 50K), winding through the park’s trail system. For the most part, the trail is on well-established footing through the woodlands and prairie. There are long climbs, rising from the river bottom, up rocky ravines, and down again.

4. Saint Croix Fat Cat Triathalon

July 8th, 2017

Scandia

The St. Croix Fat Cat Triathlon began in 2014 with the intent of showcasing the beautiful Scandia and Marine on St. Croix areas with a day of exercise, food, music and (most importantly) FUN! The St. Croix Fat Cat Triathlon is presented by the Scandia-Marine Lions Club and is 100% run and operated by volunteers. The triathlon raises funds through local sponsors with all proceeds going back to the community, education, and Lions causes.

Racers will paddle (either on a kayak, canoe or paddleboard) 3.8 miles on the Saint Croix Scenic Riverway downstream from Scandia's Log House Landing, around Greenburg Island into William O'Brien State Park.  After exiting the watercraft, they will run a 5.5-mile majestic route through the park ending at Scandia-Marine Lions Park (mostly trails).  They will transition to their bikes for an 11-mile ride along the shores of Big Marine Lake and through some of Scandia's idyllic back roads (on paved roads), finishing back at the Lions Park where they can enjoy a snack & beverage.  Custom T's awarded to top finishers.

5. Tough Mudder

July 15th & 16th

Hugo

Deep in the farmlands of Minnesota, there lies a course that tests the bodies and minds of Mudders. The route weaves through vast fields surrounding lakes and rolling hills. Don’t be fooled by the rustic charm of Tough Mudder Twin Cities Presented by Merrell. It'll deceive you - this course is as difficult as it is scenic. Ready to leave the ordinary behind and make some fresh muddy memories at Tough Mudder Twin Cities? You’ll do all that and more when you tackle classic Tough Mudder mud run obstacles and brand new 2017 upgrades. Ordinary won’t know what hit it.

6. Liftbridge Road Races

July 22nd, 2017

Bayport

This is the second race in the Run Stillwater 2017 Series. The 10 Mile and 10K races are mostly rural with scenic views throughout. The 10 Mile course starts at Lakeside Park while the runners in the new 10K will be bussed to their start location. The 5K course is a loop course weaving through the streets of residential Bayport. All courses share a common finish line in Lakeside Park adjacent to the St. Croix River.

7. Wicked Wine Run 5k

August 12, 2017

Stillwater

Race through the vineyards and trails of the beautiful St Croix Vineyard. The start time for the 5K Wicked Run begins at 5:30 pm and the 1K Wicked Tasting Walk begins at 7:00 pm. 5K participants are required to finish in one hour or less. Waves of runners will be released on the course with 2-3 minute intervals. After the race, enjoy a Wicked Post Race Party with Food Trucks, a Live Band, and… more wine! Raid Grandma’s closet and your nearest party store for best costumes with prizes going out to the one that "outshines" them all. 

Runners and ALL attendees must be 21 or older to participate.

8. Gopher to Badger Half Marathon

August 12, 2017

Stillwater

Get ready to represent your state in this epic 5k & half marathon showdown! These races start in Stillwater, Minnesota and finish in Wisconsin shortly after crossing the I-94 bridge over Lake St. Croix. Runners will battle for the lead and the honor of bringing home the win for their state as they race over the river into Hudson, Wisconsin. Just like the long-standing rivalry between Minnesota and Wisconsin, this race has a strong history and has been taking place annually since 1997! Come for the spirit of friendly competition then stay for the food and festivities in the park.

The winner of the border battle is determined by adding up the first five finishers from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and other states. There will also be a State Spirit Award given to the participant who displays outstanding pride for their state, so be sure to wear your face paint, costumes, or anything that will display your state pride!

9. RAGNAR 

August 18th-19th

Winona to Minneapolis

There are races, and there is RAGNAR. This is a personal favorite of mine and is the best race I have participated in. Run. Eat. Sleep? Repeat. 

Reebok Ragnar Relay Great River brings together the magic of running through rural and urban Minnesota and Wisconsin, bonding with new and old friends, and the accomplishment of conquering 200 miles by foot. Your team of 12 (or 6) will start your running adventure on the bank of the Mississippi River in Winona. From there you’ll experience every shade of green you can imagine as you run by endless rows of corn fields and through forested areas like Afton State Park. There’s no shortage of water views on this course including sunset views on Pepin Lake. Come be a part of 10+ years of history at Ragnar Great River and learn what it means to Find Your Inner Wild! 

10.  Stillwater Log Run

September 16th

Stillwater

Another favorite of mine, the third and last race in the Stillwater Run Race 2017 Series.  

A superb, mostly downhill race with a gentle decent ending in Boom Site Park just north of downtown Stillwater. It's been known as one of the fastest 10-mile courses around. Participants come back year-after-year for this one and it's easy to see why; it's their PR course. There is a 5k and brand new this year, they have added a 12K. Enjoy a beautiful run on one of the last days of summer.

11. Women Run the Cities

September 24th

Minneapolis

Technically, not in the summer, but a great race none the less. Join hundreds of women at one of ESPN's Top Five Races for Women in the Country! WRTC features an all women's 10 Mile and 10K Run, 5K Run/Walk, and Girls' 1 Mile Run. Women Run the Cities welcomes runners of all experience levels, whether you're an experienced runner or thinking about running your first race.

"Women run the Cities, the first time I watched this race and saw these awesome women finishing and time didn't matter, I started to cry. For the first time, I thought that finishing was what mattered, not the time. I was so proud of these women with their finish and time didn't matter. That inspired me to sign up the next year for the 10k". - Chris B, Stillwater

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Stillwater, Minnesota

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Stillwater, Minnesota

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Stillwater, Minnesota

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Stillwater, Minnesota

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