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Fastest Races in the Country

FAST WOMEN

To run a personal best, you need some serious motivation. The Lady Speed Stick® Women’s Half Marathon series celebrates strong women who dare to be unstoppable. When autumn temperatures begin to drop, shake off the winter blues and head south for the series’ St. Petersburg, Fla., event in November. Everything about this race encourages women to push themselves, including the fast, flat course that traverses the same route where the 10-mile world record was once set. More info: (727) 502-9202, womenshalfmarathon.com

QUICK TO QUALIFY

Massachusetts’ runners have a saying: “The bridge to Boston runs through Lowell.” Fittingly, record numbers of BayState Marathon participants qualify for the Boston Marathon each year. Held in Lowell, Mass., in October, BayState boasts a speedy course that snakes along the Merrimack River. Carbo load at the free pre-race pasta dinner before enjoying idyllic autumn weather on marathon morning. Red and orange foliage will keep you _ ring down the streets until you reach the line at Edward A. LeLacheur Park, where friends and family can watch from the stands. More info: (978) 263-5510, baystatemarathon.com

 

DOWN(HILL) ON THE FARM

The Hollis Apple Country Fast 5k is where hardcore runners go to reap the fruits of their labor. Held in June in Hollis, Mass., this downhill course is a sure-fire way to nab a new P.R. Although the 244-foot elevation drop prevents the race from being “official” by USA Track and Field’s standards, it does propel runners forward at breakneck pace. All ages are invited to participate, and the family fun continues well past the post-race party. Apples won’t be in season until the fall, but nearby Lull Farm offers fields of strawberries ripe for the picking. More info: (603) 769-0962, hollisfast5k.com

 

PEAK PERFORMANCE

Once a year, thousands of runners travel to the heart of the Rocky Mountains for a change of pace. The Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon, held in August, combines the speed of a downhill race with the beauty of a nature stroll. After a _ at two-mile stretch through beautiful Clear Creek Valley, runners descend over 1,000 feet. Enjoy views of green pastures and wild flower-filled fields as you glide to the finish. Need extra inspiration to push the pace? One-hundred percent of the proceeds from this race go to charity. More info: (303) 674-7449, gtishalf.org