Before the summer heat really hits, lace up your sneakers and do a little sightseeing while racing through town. Bart Yasso, chief running officer at Runner's World, shares his list of great road races where runners can tour the city with Kelly DiNardo for USA TODAY.
Boston MarathonBoston "This is the granddaddy of all marathons," Yasso says. "It's the most prestigious and historic." The race — the oldest annual marathon in the country — takes place on Patriots' Day, a Massachusetts holiday on the third Monday of April that commemorates the start of the Revolutionary War (next race: April 19, 2010). The entire city gets behind the runners, including the Boston Red Sox. The team always plays a home game at 10 a.m. so fans can cheer runners on as they race past Fenway Park before finishing in front of the John Hancock Building. 508-435-6905, bostonmarathon.org
Twin Cities MarathonMinneapolis/St. Paul The race, which also offers a 10-mile option, starts in downtown Minneapolis before leading runners along several lakes, the banks of the Mississippi, then through St. Paul before ending in front of the Capitol. "It's run in October during peak foliage," Yasso says. "And every time you look up, you're near a lake. You get the combination of a really scenic course and a tour of the city. It's spectacular." This year's date: Oct. 4. 763-287-3888, mtcmarathon.org
The Monument Avenue 10KRichmond, Va. This 6.21-mile race, to be held next on March 27, 2010, takes runners down tree-lined Monument Avenue, which is dotted with historic statues and surrounded by beautiful Southern homes. "You get the sense that Richmond really was the capital of the south," says Yasso, who explains it's also a very festive race. There are bands that play along the course and a costume contest. "It's a big party," Yasso says. 804-285-9495, sportsbackers.org
San Francisco MarathonSan Francisco The marathon, which includes a half-marathon option, loops runners through the city's funky neighborhoods, then out and back on the Golden Gate Bridge, this year on July 26. "On a clear day, you get the best views of the city," Yasso says. "Every once in a while, it's completely fogged in. You hear the foghorns on the ships below you, but you can't see anything. It's so surreal. That's also part of the mystique of San Francisco." 888-958-6668, runsfm.com
Miami MarathonMiami This race, to be held next on Jan. 31, 2010, starts before sunrise to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and takes runners across a causeway into South Beach. "All the art deco lights are lit up and the clubbers are just heading home," Yasso says. "It's funny to see these Paris Hilton look-alikes cheering for you. It really shows off what the city is about." The race, which has a half-marathon option, also takes runners through Miami's neighborhoods and past where all the cruise ships are docked. 305-278-8668, ingmiamimarathon.com
Vermont City MarathonBurlington, Vt. "It's a hippie enclave and college town," says Yasso of Burlington. The May 24 race, which takes runners along Lake Champlain and through the city's neighborhoods, lets you experience the city's free spirit. "Most people cheering for you are wearing tie-dye and playing the Grateful Dead," says Yasso. "At mile 15, there's a hill and they have this ensemble of drummers playing at the base to get the runners pumped. It all speaks to the artsy vibe of the city." 800-880-8149, runvermont.org