Fall in New England means races galore! You could do three races every weekend if you wanted to just in Connecticut and still have plenty to spare. With so many to choose from we are here to help you narrow down the best races in the area. Our definition of best is a race that is easy to find information on, a great value, and makes some extra effort for all of its participants. We have included timed races only, so you won’t see the color run, electric run, mud run or any of those on our list. We stuck to mostly local races leading up to Thanksgiving. There are some great races out there but it’s nearly impossible to find information on them, so those without at least a decent website were automatically disqualified from our list. All prices are listed as the advance registration fee.
Here is our list in chronological order:
September 2nd (Labor Day)
New Haven Road Race
Distance: You have the option of a 5k or 20k (12.4 miles) – the 20k serves as both the Connecticut and USA 20k USA Track & Field Championship.
Size: 6,000-7,000 runners
Cost: $30 for the 5k, $50 for the 20k
Course: Loop, relatively flat
What You Get: A very nice, long sleeve technical t-shirt, a festive atmosphere, route is closed to traffic, top notch race organization, race expo, post-race full meal, beer, some of the best runners in the country, lots of prize money available, very fast competition.
Other: If you don’t like crowds this probably isn’t the race for you, it’s a huge race; if you do like crowds and watching really fast runners, you should check this one out as it’s easily one of the top 5 races in CT. This race sells out so you’ll want to register early.
Somers Great Escape Road Race
Distance: 5k or 5 Mile – you pick
Size: Between 300-400 runners
Cost: $20 in advance, $25 day of
Course: Out and back
What You Get: A cotton t-shirt, lots of prize money available including to the winner of every division – not just the overall winners, post-race food, a parade and fair after the race, course is closed to traffic.
Other: The 5k and 5 mile race start together so be aware of faster runners in the 5k, the course is an out-and-back and you turnaround in the road, you do this 3 times for the 5 mile, so it’s not the most creative course in the world but it is great for spectators. Also, this is an early start for a shorter race, 8:00 a.m. the gun goes off.
Hogback Half Marathon, Colebrook, CT
Distance: Half Marathon (13.1 miles)
Size: Around 300
Course: A very scenic loop, first half is downhill, second half is uphill
What You Get: A very attractive long sleeve technical t-shirt, an even better finishers medal, very quiet and scenic course, great food.
Other: Colebrook is in the middle of nowhere, so make sure you plan accordingly for a drive to and from – though it is a beautiful drive.
Cider Mill Road Race – Tolland, CT
Distance: 5k, Kids Mile, Kids Run
Size: 500 (300 in the 5k)
Cost: $18 in advance, $20 at the door
Course: Loop, hilly in the first mile, than a nice cruise the rest of the way
What You Get: Post-race food, t-shirt, professional timing, a party-like atmosphere, covered holding area to keep your stuff dry/warm, custom made prizes (pottery), prize money.
Other: This is a fundraiser for the Tolland Board of Education so there are a lot of kids there, it’s a great race if you have little ones.
Distance: Kids Run, 5k, Half Marathon, Marathon
Size: 15,000 total runners, spread throughout the 4 distances
Cost: $10-$125 depending on distance and when you register
Course: Mostly loops, some out and backs
What You Get: Technical long sleeve t-shirts, great event management, some of the top talent in New England, event atmosphere, excellent participant engagement, course support, closed courses, water stops, post-race massage, post race food, bag checks, two-day health and fitness expo
Other: The Half Marathon is the best course, the full is nice but there are certainly better courses; it’s tough to watch more than one race and the post-race layout can get a little confusing. The post-race food isn’t the greatest but you’re right downtown where all the businesses are open and as far as participant engagement it is arguably the best in the state; particularly for a race of this size.
Kent Pumpkin Run – Kent, CT
Distance: 5 Mile, 2 Mile Fun Run
Cost: $23 in advance $28 at the door
What You Get: Great post-race food, closed roads, pumpkin soup, prize money, top competition, some of the best fall foliage, a chance to win a car!
Other: Okay you have to pay extra for the chance to win the car, unless you win the race then you get an automatic entry. Kent is a little bit off the beaten path but this is peak foliage time and another nice drive on a Sunday morning.
Colony Grill Post Road ‘Hot Oil’ 5k – Fairfield, CT
What You Get: Goodie box, t-shirt, post-race pizza, beer and soda, live music, a chance to win free pizza for a year!
Other: The race supports Fairfield’s finest and bravest, the male and female winner get free pizza for a year, tough to beat that.
Manchester Road Race
Distance: 4.748 miles
What You Get: participation in the largest race in CT, crowds line the streets the entire way, a Thanksgiving tradition, bag pipes playing, expo, bib mailed to your house, inexpensive, fantastic race management/organization, start by seed time, closed course, tv coverage
Other: Don’t expect a lot of frills, you have to pay more if you want a shirt but this is hands-down the best race in CT.
So, there you have it, in the opinion of MRC, the best fall races in Connecticut!