One suggestion per month. Ready? Let’s do this.
Baton Rouge, La.
When to visit: January 16-18
Race: The Louisiana Marathon Rendezvous Weekend features full, half and quarter marathons, a 5K and a kids marathon. Being that it’s Louisiana, you can expect a festival atmosphere before and after the starting line. Food from local eateries includes a showcase of jambalaya at the Finish Fest.
Beer: Local brewery Abita (Turbodog, Purple Haze) is sponsoring the post-race festivities, which could host up to 24,000 people.
When to visit: Feb. 28
Race: The Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K and kids race. February is the perfect time to visit Arizona, when it’s miserable elsewhere, but the temperatures are actually humane while running past cacti in Phoenix.
Beer: For this, I went straight to the expert. I asked my editor Jessica Daynor, located at DRAFT HQ in Phoenix. Her recommendation: “Papago Brewing Co., order a house Orange Blossom ale. (Or order a Four Peaks Odelay if you’re looking for something seasonal.)”
When to visit: March 22
Race: Publix Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon. More than 16,000 runners head through historic areas in Atlanta, Decatur and neighborhoods in between.
Beer: It has to be something from Monday Night Brew, an Atlanta craft brewer that has hosted its own beer mile. I recommend Fu Manbrew, a Belgian-style wit.
When to visit: April 18-19
Race: North Face Endurance Challenge. See a different side of our nation’s capital with this trail series, which also includes Wisconsin, California and Ontario. The route goes through Algonkian Regional Park, Great Falls Park and the Potomac Heritage Trail and includes everything from a kids’ race to 50 miles.
Beer: Stop by the growler hours for DC Brau. I recommend Corruption IPA, which you can also pick up in cans.
When to visit: May 2-3
Race: Expedition Everest Challenge, a 5K adventure run through Disney’s Animal Kingdom with the challenge of a scavenger hunt. The nighttime adventure starts in base camp with a journey along an obstacle-strewn course. Post-race party includes Disney entertainment and exclusive ride access.
Beer: If Disney is for the kids, then Cigar City Brewing is for the adults. In May, you should be able to get the seasonal Hornswoggled Red Ale.
When to visit: June 27
Race: Two Hearted Trail Run, located in the remote northeastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Two Hearted River captured the imagination of Ernest Hemingway, who wrote “The Big Two Hearted River.” Runners in the 50K and Marathon will travel via single track past lakes and rivers on their way to the finish at the Upper Tahquamenon Falls.
Beer: Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, of course.
When to visit: July 11
Race: Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run. This is not your typical race. It has 16,000 feet of vertical climb and descent along the Baden Powell trail, a scenic and very technical trail through a Pacific Northwest rain forest. Most of the trail is within the forest, although there are some spectacular vistas at a number of points along the trail, according to the course description. The course is 30 miles long and the field is limited to about 200 starters.
Beer: Take a trip to the Vancouver Craft Beer Market, which bills itself as Canadian’s largest selection of draft beer. It has 140 tap lines and more than 6,900 gallons of beer. You’ll need it after that elevation.
When to visit: August 24-30
Race: Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, a tour in beautiful but extreme endurance. The obstacles include seven valleys, 71 glaciers and 400 summits. Let’s go to the official race description: “It has been called the race of all the superlatives. A complete tour of the Mont Blanc Massif, passing through 3 countries: France, Switzerland and Italy, the race that every runner should finish at least once in their life.”
Beer: How often can you say you drank beer made with glacier water? All Mont Blanc Brewery beers are brewed from “high altitude water catchment on the slopes of Mont Blanc” that “provides the brewery with pure and unaltered water for its delicate recipes.”
When to visit: Late September (exact race date hasn’t been announced yet)
Race: Dogfish Dash 5K and 10K, a race from the Dogfish Head Brewery through the charming town of Milton and finishing with one of the coolest post-race beer offerings I’ve ever attended. Go for the running and beer, stay for the fun costumes and camaraderie.
Beer: All of the beers. All of them. But especially Burton Baton, perhaps my favorite offering from Dogfish Head.
When to visit: Oct. 31-Nov 1
Race: Milwaukee Running Festival. I’m biased because I live in Milwaukee, but I’m very excited for Milwaukee’s first urban marathon. (It takes place a few weeks after the Lakefront Marathon, which begins in the northern suburbs.) The course will include Milwaukee landmarks like the Historic Old World Third Street, breweries and the Riverwalk.
Beer: For something unique and local, try the Milwaukee Brewing Co’s O-Gii, a wit infused with local Rishi Tea. You’ll never believe this monster beer is 9.2% ABV.
When to visit: November 13-15
Race: The Las Vegas Rock ‘n Roll Marathon and Half Marathon. I’ve completed this race multiple times as a coach for Team Challenge, and there’s nothing like the atmosphere of 30-40,000 runners heading down the Vegas strip at night.
Beer: The Burger Bar is my favorite place for draft beer in Vegas. It’s an assuming, small restaurant in Mandalay Bay, but with amazing burgers and craft beer like Lagunitas Brown Shugga on tap.
When to visit: December 5
Race: Finally, end the year with something good for yourself and for humanity with the St. Jude’s Marathon, half, relay, 5K or family fun run to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
Beer: Do your post-race refueling at High Cotton Brewing Co with their Christmas Stout paired and BBQ nachos. Indulge. Enjoy. Then get ready to plan for 2016!