Running in Orange County: The Best Marathons and Races

Orange County is a populous area located south of Los Angeles, encompassing Anaheim, Irvine, Santa Ana and Huntington Beach. Despite its suburban and scattered geography, Orange County offers plenty of great running opportunities. From the 40-mile coastline to the mountainous areas, recreational trails and large parks, runners can find plenty of places to explore. For more running options in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, check out our Guide to Running in Los Angeles, and if you want to enjoy a fantastic getaway or vacation, visit Catalina Island, which has fantastic running options.

There are some great independent running stores in the area, some with active calendars for group running. Locations in Mission Viejo, Fountain Valley, Brea and Monrovia have calendars that list the clubs they run by location. The Race schedule, courtesy of A Snail's Pace, is a great resource for finding races throughout the year. Orange County hosts fun races for the whole family, including turkey trots, 5K races and full marathons.

Whether you're looking for a challenge or a fun way to get kids excited about physical activity, there are events for each season. The longest marathon in Orange County is the OC Marathon. This race course follows the trails of Irvine Regional Park, with some hills, individual tracks and views of beautiful Orange County. The OC marathon can be used as a qualifier for any marathon in the country, including the Boston Marathon.

In addition to the OC Marathon, there is also the Reebok Ragnar Road SoCal race. Teams of twelve complete a 200-mile adventure through Orange County, La Jolla, Encinitas and Cardiff-by-the-Sea. The annual Dino Dash is another popular event for kids and families. The top finishers of the 5 km, 10 km and half marathon races in each age division receive an official Dino Dash trophy.

The event was attended by 2600 participants from 47 states, representing a 45% increase in registrations for the four races that make up the SDCCU OC Marathon Running Festival. The 16-year-old Orange County Half Marathon will be held in early November and will be joined by the inaugural Orange County Marathon on the first weekend of December and the Southern California Half Marathon in January. Proceeds from the Hearts & Heroes 5K campaign will go to local foster children and will be used to organize birthday parties for these children who work at a local children's home in Orange County. The entire 26-mile, 385-yard marathon course begins in front of the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa and then passes through Corona del Mar and Newport Harbor area.