At the end of 2020, we asked for your most interesting, scenic, or memorable “Run of the Year.” Reading the submissions was one of our personal highlights of 2020! It was great to see all the running stories and photos from the Great Runs community. You shared many unique and wonderful running experiences: splendid achievements, spiritual moments, creativity during COVID, and of course, some gorgeous locations. For this “Run of the Year’” compilation, we’ve grouped your submissions into a few themes. Scroll down or jump to any one of the following, and click the arrow on each slide or swipe through the slideshows. Note: There are some minor edits for clarity and brevity.
Memorable because of the beautiful blue sky and lovely woods surrounding me on the trail. I am burned out with running where I live in CA, and I did a long road trip in the Pacific Northwest to find new routes. —Lisa R.
“This run is a perfect condensed version of Yellowstone National Park. Prairie, canyon, forest, thermal features, rivers, lakes, open meadows…all in one run! ” —Aurélie V.
“From Norway to Haleakala – Up and down the crater in a moonlike landscape.” —Curtis
“Stunning countryside on this 7.9 mile trail loop. Magical setting.” —Jacqueline M.
“The rock colors and formations will absolutely blow your mind. You run through very narrow canyons, badlands, golden valleys, rolling hills, gulch. Sometimes, it’s like running on the moon, sometimes like you are in the middle of the Star Wars movie.” —Aurélie V.
“This is my feel-good run. The sweeping views from the Bridge of Downtown to Fort Sumter not only offer beauty, but add history to the mix.” —Mike W.
“Remote village north of Quebec. 80km/hr wind factor…beautiful sunny day.” —Marie-Hélène L.
“New Year’s Eve 5k.” —Julie S.
“As well as the breath-taking scenery I also got to see whales, dolphins and sea turtles.” —Andrew T.
"My guide Moy guided me through Tel Aviv. He made my running tour very interesting and fun to do. Really recommendable!" —Raoul Spronken
“It was the first run abroad for me after the summer lockdown. And Geneva is such a beautiful place under the morning sunlight: its lake, ancient buildings, steep climbs!” —Olivier L.
“A sunrise marathon in the middle of the summer starting at 4.50am with my running buddy and with a sub 4hrs PB at the end – and a cloud that followed us all that morning.” —Amanda B.
“Beautiful fall weather. Lots of wildlife. Over 2K elevation on the Seven Brothers Lake Trail.” —James C.
"It was January 2020, and the last run I did outside of the USA before we all went into lockdown. I traveled back to my hometown in Ireland and ran 1600 feet up a local hill called Moylussa, Ballycuggeran in Co.Clare. It's 6.15 miles up and down. It was a glorious cold day and reminded me why I love running. I think I enjoyed the sandwich and the coffee afterwards even more...just sitting in my car enjoying a morning of running and good food." —Pam S.
“On our 25th Anniversary, February, we took a cruise around Cape Horn and we stopped in Punta Arenas. We ran from the pier along the waterfront to the ferry terminal. We love cruising but running in circles is not nearly as fun as running along the waterfront with art, sculpture, birds and water. ” —Jerry S.
"It was the first time we joined a run through the city center and were really surprised at how clean the streets are and how friendly the people are. It was also cool to stop at a couple of the historic buildings along the way and get to hear some of the history. Of course there were plenty of laughs and a good chirp or two." —Craig S.
“Ran from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ve wanted to do this run since the first visit 20 years before.” —Guillaume
"The new mixed use path along Ocean Parkway between Captree State Park and Jones Beach was not officially open this summer but I ignored the signs (it was only waiting for painted lines and distance markers - don’t tell on me). It was like my own private running path along Long Island’s Great South Bay. I ran in sunshine and rain, at dawn, midday and dusk. Every run was a pleasure. This summer I’ll be sharing the path with other runners, walkers and those pesky cyclists, so I cherished the alone time." —Karen B.
“Just before COVID-19 lockdowns, I traveled from Mexico to Israel to visit my daughter there and have the chance to run during a beautiful warm winter day in Tel Aviv.” —Elias Harari
"Summer 2020 was all about what we couldn’t do - not travelling, not meeting up for runs etc. - but on the 1st day of Summer in our beach house, a huge storm hit the coast, and I did a 20k tailwind run with my jacket like a sail pushing me on. Did my best 10k in several years, and my wife was kind enough to pick me up 20k up the beach." —Troels W.
"I’m in my 50s and I’ve been running for about a year after a lifetime of sedentary couch-potatohood. This was my longest run to date - perfect weather; ran 9 miles and felt like I could have run forever had I not run out of time. No-one is more shocked than me to realize I have become a runner." —Ken S.
"This year I decided to run 22 miles for my 22nd birthday! The best part was I never ran alone - everyone in my family (my 2 brothers and both parents) ran a portion of the mileage with me! It was my favorite memory of 2020, I had an absolute blast and am now going to make 'running my age' a yearly tradition." —Hannah C.
"On January 5, 2020, I unintentionally became an ultra marathoner. My longest race to date was the NYC Marathon in November 2019. In January 2020, I felt ready and recovered to start training for a local February half marathon. I was building up mileage and decided to use a local 6-hour ultra race (Vista View 360 Ultra Marathon & Relay) as a training run. This race is held annually at a somewhat hilly park. One loop is 1.24 miles. My intent was to only run 16 miles (13 laps). I started the race and felt amazing after 10 loops (12.4 miles). I felt good enough to complete another 10 (24.8 total miles). Once I got to 20 loops, I talked myself into running 22 loops (27.28 miles) to receive the special ultra belt buckle. Finally, I reasoned that I should go for 30 miles, a new distance record. I completed a total of 32.24 miles (26 laps) that day. I surprised and amazed myself. I found a new mental strength I never knew was there. Best thing is my adult son was there to witness and share this accomplishment. Little did I know that COVID would bring life to a halt and all my 2020 marathons would be canceled. What a gift I'll forever hold dear." —Asya C., Davie, FL
"I was 8 months into my 2020 run streak - little did I know I would be running through a pandemic! One Saturday night I woke around 2am feeling like something was terribly wrong.... and it was! I hadn’t done my daily run! I got out of bed (my husband mumbled 'you’re crazy'), got dressed, grabbed the dog and went out for my run!" —Rivka C., Montreal
"My first double marathon (52.5 miles) and first successful 50-miler. My first Ultra was in January (50k) then I tried my first 50 miler in July and DNF'd at 33 miles. Also it was a sunrise to sunset run (inspired by the How Was Your Run Today podcast), then extended another 90 minutes to hit my distance goals." —Erik N., Boston
"My first ever 33km trail race, a big personal 2020 achievement. First event after the start of COVID19, great organization and amazing atmosphere. Beautiful scenery, varied and challenging route The event took place two months later than originally planned, which allowed for perfect weather and temperature. Definitely going back next year to race a longer route!" —Liv R. Ein Hashofet, Israel
"This was my last long run of 2020 and I planned to go 10 miles, but ended up going 13.6 miles and even hit a new PR! ThIs was the strong end I needed - 224.2 miles for December and a total of 575.41 miles for 2020 with almost all miles from September - December. Had bunion surgeries in January and June so couldn't run over half the year. I turned 49 about a month ago and the gift of pain free feet has allowed my body to enjoy running as much as my mind!" —Sylvia S., Elk Grove, CA
"COVID canceled my first Ultra (50k) to have been held in May 2020. I also was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2020, right before the pandemic. I was to run Paris, the ultra and then NYC marathons all in 2020. I did them all virtually but the one that stands out the most for me is the NYC because I had already had my double mastectomy. It was impossible to train for it so I ran it without training and without my boobs. LOL which we did on the day it should’ve been. Two weeks before my double mastectomy my boyfriend planned the route starting at my childhood home, ending at Central Park and we ran it together." —Helga L., New York
"I was training for a 100K race which of course got cancelled. I took the day off on my 60th Birthday and ran 60K down by Lake Ontario. Did some sightseeing. Ran through some areas I had not been to before. My wife met me with less than 10K to go and rode me in on her bike. It was a beautiful sunny day." —Neil B., Toronto
"I could not make it just one run, but rather a series of therapeutic runs. Running is what kept me sane during 2020. I was registered for a marathon and an ultramarathon, neither of which happened. Instead, as the pic says, I had no idea what I was running for. But I ran. And it helped. Cheers to everyone who felt the same.” —Kassie H., NYC
"This race became a global success. The rules were simple: each hour, run a distance of 6.706 km/4.167 miles, then keep going for as many hours as you can. Some participants ran outside, while others were restricted to indoors – either on a treadmill or completing loops in their house as this was occurring during “lockdown” in many cities. It became a worldwide event making major news headlines. I was able to complete ten rounds or 41.67 miles." —Paul T.
"It was our alternative private race in Vienna to the original comrades ultramarathon in South Africa, which was canceled because of Covid. My wife Sibylle and me ran the 80ks together with two of our children, who escorted us with their mountain bikes and supported us with drinks, food, good music and good vibrations during our lonesome, long jog! We finished after 8h52min and enjoyed our personal run of the year 2020 very much." —Thomas K.
"It wasn't until mid-April that I dared to exercise outside again, but never without a mask, because proper social distancing in the big city is impossible. Except for that one day in September. It was raining so hard that I had the park to myself. My only maskless run since mid-March. The squishy sneakers? So worth it!" —Janet G., Prospect Park, Brooklyn
“Because of COVID-19, the U.S. Park Service closed the parkway that runs from Jamestown to Yorktown, Virginia. Running on the macadam with no cars and darn few runners for miles will be a cherished memory from 2020.” —Patricia K.
"In early March, the Sunday before lockdown, I ran 8 miles around my suburban Philadelphia town. It was my longest run ever - I was training for my first half, scheduled in May - and it felt great. That Friday COVID hit and my anxiety got the best of me. I completely stopped running or working out at all. Just yesterday, I got back out there for the first time in nearly a year. Just 2 miles was rough, but knowing that I once completed 8 and that I have that in me helped me finish, and I look forward to working my way back to that again." —Gina M.
"Due to the lack of activity on the roads early in the pandemic, I was able to run down the center of a normally very busy street in Atlanta. Out of nowhere a biker passed just two feet to the left of me, he turned to look at me and screamed, “ISN’T THIS AWESOME!?!” That made me smile and more fully appreciate a silver lining during COVID." —Matt B.
“This race was the Super Bowl 5k Weekend, before the big football game in Miami. I was super excited and happy because I finished 1st Overall, and I had the opportunity to meet some of the players.” —Leonardo C.
"I was running through Times Square by myself. There were no other people in what is usually the most crowded intersection in the country. The street and traffic lights were down and the odd car and pedestrian took turns waving each other on, as one might on a deserted country road. I ran along and through 42nd street, without seeing another soul, until I heard a whistle. Someone was catcalling me as I ran in my sports bra and shorts by myself. I turned around. It was the infamous Naked Cowboy, strolling down the street by himself. In his Cowboy boots and underwear and guitar. We exchanged looks, he smiled, I smiled, and we each went on our way. It was surreal. Only in a pandemic. I wish I’d taken a photo, but it would have ruined the moment.” — Kassie H., NYC
“A unique underground overground adventure. Being able to compete in a year of COVID.” —Kenneth G.
"I was planning to resign from the company but didn't as I wanted to participate in this marathon first, a 10K amongst all my Microsoft colleagues. This was my second run of life and to my surprise, I stood first with 59:17. The special thing about the run was the mountainous terrain to increase the complexity and the feeling of seeing all your acquaintances running by your side and cheering you up. I remember seeing 10 people during the run with a thumbs up saying "Go! Go! Go! You are the first one" That memory is itched on my memory." —Arushi K.
“A sunrise marathon in the middle of the summer starting at 4.50am with my running buddy and with a sub 4hrs PB at the end – and a cloud that followed us all that morning.” —Manu
“The scenery was amazing. It was well organized. All around great run.” —Russell H.
“I live in TN and had planned/ trained to run my first 50 miler at the Brazos Bend 50 Mile Ultra in TX. They cancelled the race, but I went anyway and completed it with the support of a few friends that flew out with me! Beautiful area and amazingly friendly State park!” —Devon B.
“First virtual half marathon.” —Stoli S.
“This was my first Ultra run, albeit the 10km “beginner” route. Stunning scenery up and through the valleys, stream crossings, hard grunts uphill, beautiful trail downhill. An awesome intro to the world of Ultra.” —Catherine P.
"In the bleak landscape of 2020, when nearly all races were cancelled, I discovered that the Women's Race Phoenix was still going to be held as a live event on November 22nd. This involved a 700-mile round trip from my home in southern California, but it was worth every mile. The race was held in the beautiful Rio Vista Park in Peoria, Arizona, along the New River, with rugged desert mountains in the background. The announcer, the energetic music, the aid stations, the jubilant runners in tutus waving a friendly "hello" - after over 9 months of nothing but lonely virtual races, it was so fantastic to line up (though safely distanced) at a real live start line and experience all the elements of a live race. I considered sharing the one photo where I briefly took off my facemask, but I look like I am about to cry, because...I am about to cry, with the joy of experiencing such a rare and precious opportunity. Instead, I'll share one where I manage a smile, albeit under my mask, showing off my most meaningful race medal of all time." —Tracy Z.
"The virtual Boston Marathon! I ran it in memory of my dad (a former runner) who passed away of cancer in May 2019. Also, I raised money for The Ed Walsh Foundation, a young firefighter who lost his life in a tragic Boston blaze. The foundation assists young children in education (I’m a teacher) and to encourage participation in sports.
Because I was solo, every 2 miles I ran back and forth so I could hydrate and/or snack at my car 🙂 It took a lot of mental focus to keep going, but I did have 1 friend run a few miles and another rode a bike. It was nice to have a couple of people waiting for me at the “finish” (which was my car:))! I was very grateful and emotional. I intentionally ran on Sept 11, to never forget that day in NYC (we had until Sept. 14th to run the marathon). Regardless of our pandemic, the marathon for me HAD to be completed. And it happened." —Jill
“I ran a solo marathon in the snow dressed as Minnie Mouse to raise money for a very special cause.” —Diane A. South Manchester, UK
"This was my first trail race and first race longer than a 5k. I invited several of my friends -- one who won the race, another who finished just out of the top ten, and then my last friend and I who finished right dead last. I have not spent time with them in the years since graduating college, but getting to take my time talking, telling stories and sharing experiences that we had been through since the last time we were together was priceless and a joy to take part in. The community makes running great; not just the competition." —Gavin T., Burlington, NC
"I started my running streak in Houston on 12/31/2016 and had run through hurricanes and storms, extreme heat and humidity, and at every hour of the day. In July 2020 my husband and I moved to Andover, KS. I was nervous that my success would not continue after the move. The day after we moved to Kansas, we were invited on a (socially distanced) group run with a couple of other people in our new neighborhood. We ran by farms and ranches, next to cows, horses, chickens, and roosters. The views were beautiful and everything was quiet and peaceful. As I ran, my anxieties disappeared and I knew that I would continue to find happiness running in my hometown." —Lindsey B.
"I spent two months running beside cows, sheep, and horses in any and all Scottish weather. The highlight of my runs was going to a flat area next the pasture of three horses. Everyday I sprinted over and over and over. I rested between sets and chatted with the horses and fed them some grass. I was very isolated in the cottage...the horses were my best friends and coaches to keep going, sprint after sprint." —Troy M.
"It was Christmas Day and it unexpectedly snowed the night before, so the roads and trails were snow covered and icy. I'd never run in them before, but remembered that I had some Yaktrax. Traction was good and there was no one else out. The air was crisp and I felt great. It was pure quiet. A very tranquil and welcome Christmas morning run. And something that I made sure not to take for granted after a rough year." —Chris N.
“I had just had surgery for kidney cancer 5 days before and this run made me feel alive and gave me energy to fight.” —Gordon W.
"I left home a Saturday morning thinking 'just a cool 10k,' but Bruce Springsteen in my ears, the virtual NYC marathon in my head... I ran the virtual 42,2km by myself. With the memories from NYC 2018, I could have kept running on and on...I could feel the magic from that day. Awesome marathon, by myself but not lonely, that magic feeling was still in my head and soul." —Jessica
“I tripped on the sidewalk about three blocks into my run. I face planted. I actually hit my face on the sidewalk. It really hurt. I limped back to the car and called my husband. Then after some comforting words I went out and completed my run. It was the perfect analogy for 2020.” —Dian A., Ashland, VA