There are still races – and racing fans – out there in a pandemic year, and RaceRaves found them and recently revealed the winners of its 2020 “Best Racing Cities in the U.S.” poll. The report highlights what it judges to be the Top 10 large, midsize and small racing cities in the U.S. with profiles of the Top 5 in each category.

Among the winners:

  • Boston, Chicago and New York City remain a “major” draw for runners across the U.S. with major events, strong running communities and appeal as travel destinations.
  • Cincinnati created buzz for a mid-sized city on the strength of two well-known race weekends, the Flying Pig Marathon and Queen Bee Half Marathon.
  • Moab, UT claimed the title of the smallest winning city thanks to its highly-rated events and close proximity to two National Parks.

Determined through an online poll conducted by RaceRaves from September 16 to October 18, the poll included a list of 50 U.S. cities large and small, with a write-in option. Respondents ranked their Top Three choices and, in many cases, provided supporting commentary based on the destination and quality of running events hosted there.

“This initiative advances our commitment to helping runners discover the best places in the U.S. for their next destination race,” said RaceRaves Co-Founder and Chief Racing Officer Mike Sohaskey. “We congratulate each of these deserving cities on this grass-roots recognition and on hosting exceptional events that inspire so many athletes. And once in-person racing returns, we know they’ll again become vibrant go-to destinations for runners across the country and around the world. In the meantime, RaceRaves will continue to provide a trusted, go-to resource to support runners and race organizers alike.”


To highlight just the big-city winners, according to Raceraves:

1. Boston, MA

“Boston is Boston!” Other compelling reasons aside, this was the most frequently cited justification for why Beantown is #1 in the hearts and minds of runners across the U.S. Because if there’s one race that captures the imagination and leaves runners weak in the knees, it’s the world’s oldest and most prestigious marathon, held annually on Patriots Day in April. That said, this is no one-horse (or one-unicorn) town thanks to several shorter-distance events from the Boston Athletic Association along with Boston’s Run to Remember and “local races nearly every weekend,” plus a BQ favorite at autumn’s Baystate Marathon in nearby Lowell. And while it may be the nation’s most popular place to run, Boston likewise appeals to walkers courtesy of the Freedom Trail, a 2½-mile path that brings to life the city’s Revolutionary War heritage.

2. Chicago, IL

Together with Boston and New York City, the racing mecca of the Midwest hosts one of the country’s three Abbott World Marathon Majors, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Exuberant finishers applaud all aspects of the marathon, from the “flat course” with its many “different neighborhoods” and “awesome crowd support” to the “great vibes” and “everything in between.” Beyond the marathon, Chicago’s event portfolio extends to a “beautiful list of races” “of all distances all year along the lakefront, through the city and into the suburbs.”

3. New York City, NY

One reason New York City never sleeps is because it’s too busy racing. Between New York Road Runners and NYCRUNS, it’s easy to find a race here on almost any weekend of the year. The biggest fish in the biggest pond, of course, is the TCS New York City Marathon in November—the world’s largest marathon leads runners on a 26.2-mile tour of the city’s five boroughs and is “an amazing way to see all NYC has to offer.” In fact, simply getting to the start line on race day is a sightseeing tour de force, as the ferry ride from Lower Manhattan across New York Harbor passes

To learn more: here.