Top 10 Marathons in the United States To Run

Key Takeaways

• Participating in a marathon can provide various physical and mental health benefits, such as improved cardiovascular health, increased energy levels, and enhanced joint health. 

• The United States is home to some of the most prestigious marathons in the world, known for their challenging terrain, cultural significance, and festive atmosphere. 

• The Boston, Chicago, and New York City Marathons are among the top ten marathons in the U.S. that runners should consider participating in and create memorable experiences.

Runners participate in marathons to challenge their bodies, push their physical and mental limits, and create a sense of accomplishment. As a runner, you can run a marathon to connect with other runners, support a charitable cause, and improve your social wellbeing. A 2022 study published by the National Library of Medicine highlights that running a marathon provides various health benefits, such as: 

• Improved cardiovascular health 

• Enhanced mental and cognitive wellbeing 

• Boosted immune system 

• Increased bone density 

• Enhanced joint health 

• Increased energy levels 

• Streamlined body composition 

• A good night’s sleep 

• Reduced risk of chronic diseases 

In addition, running a marathon in the United States is a dream for thousands of runners and fitness enthusiasts. The U.S. offers some of the most prestigious marathons, allowing runners to participate in the race and enjoy scenic routes, from city streets to picturesque landscapes. 

Marathons in the U.S. are also famous for their cultural significance, festive atmosphere, and challenging terrain. So, what are the top ten marathons in the U.S. to run? Today’s article will answer this question and give essential details!

1. Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon is one of the oldest and most popular running events in the United States, driving runners from all over the world. The Boston Athletic Association (BBA) is a non-profit organization that organizes this 26.2-mile annual running event on Patriots’ Day (every year). 

We recommend runners participate in the Boston Marathon, leverage the opportunity to test their endurance, and celebrate the human spirit, perseverance, and determination. However, running the challenging course becomes enjoyable if you have a high fitness level. 

Although the race is challenging, it is an opportunity for runners to relish the scenic views of Boston City. We believe nothing is better than running this marathon alongside the best runners in the world. 

The marathon course is challenging and requires a high level of fitness, but it also offers breathtaking views of Boston. The race attracts thousands of runners from all over the world. 

Likewise, you will run alongside some of the best runners in the world. In addition, the Boston Marathon will start in Hopkinton and end at Coley Square, Boston City, Massachusetts. The BBA has implemented a strict qualification system to ensure runners with optimal physical fitness participate in the marathon. 

The good news is that the qualification criteria vary by age and gender. However, you must meet the required standards to qualify for the marathon. For example, BBA’s website states that runners between 18 and 34 must meet the three-hour qualify time. 

2. Chicago Marathon

The Chicago Marathon is arguably the second-best marathon event in the United States, held annually in Chicago City, Illinois. It attracts thousands of runners from different countries. The marathon takes place on the city’s flat and fast course, allowing runners to enjoy the race while running through famous neighborhoods and streets. 

So this allows you to create unique and memorable experiences. In addition to exploring the neighborhoods, you will relish the breathtaking views of Chicago’s skyline and immerse yourself in its vibrant culture. Because the course is flat and fast, it drives runners of all skill levels, including novice and seasonal runners. 

Besides, the organizers make substantial efforts to make the marathon a pleasant experience for runners and spectators, offering plenty of aid stations and medical services. Remember that this is a charitable running event that aims to raise funds for numerous humanitarian causes. Ultimately, you will get a chance to run 26.2 miles through Chicago’s iconic neighborhoods and landmarks, including Chinatown, River North, and the Loop. 

The qualifying times for the Chicago Marathon vary depending on the participant’s age and gender, with faster times required for younger and male runners. Anyway, we recommend participating in this marathon to challenge yourself, meet diverse runners from different countries, and create memorable experiences. 

We suggest focusing on the registration dates and signing up early to fill your spot quickly. The race is also open to runners who participate as charity runners, raising funds for one of the event’s official charity partners.

3. New York City Marathon

Do you love long-distance running? If yes, you must not miss the annual New York City Marathon, the most coveted event in the United States. It drives runners of all ages and walks of life. You can participate in the New York City Marathon as a U.S. citizen or a foreigner. 

The first New York City Marathon took place in 1970 with 127 participants. However, today, it has become the most prestigious marathon in the United States, with over 50,000 runners hailing from different countries. The best thing about this running event is that it covers New York City’s all boroughs. 

The race starts in Staten Island and finishes in the scenic Central Park in Manhattan. The New York Road Runners (NYRR) is a non-profit organization that organizes this event to promote health and fitness. 

According to NYRR, the event will occur on November 5, 2023. NYRR requires runners to complete a qualifying race or meet the criteria for automatic entry. Bear in mind that the qualification criteria vary by age and gender, and you must submit proof of your qualification. 

4. Walt Disney World Marathon

The Walt Disney World Marathon is a unique running event in the United States, allowing participants to experience a magical journey in Florida. For instance, you will pass by iconic attractions and Walt Disney characters throughout the course. 

It offers numerous events for runners of all ages, walks of life, and skill levels, including a 5K, 10K, and a half marathon. Run Disney is a division of the Walt Disney Company that organizes this annual marathon at Disney Parks in the U.S. These include: 

• The Walt Disney World Marathon 

• The Star War Rival Run Weekend 

• The Disneyland Paris Half Marathon 

However, the Walt Disney World Marathon is unique, offering a festive environment, a fantastic atmosphere, and enjoyable themes, allowing runners of all skill levels to participate in the race. 

The marathon took place between January 4 and 8, 2023. You can apply or qualify for the following year’s event if you have missed it in 2023. The Walt Disney World Marathon is open to runners of all skill levels, regardless of their previous race experience or qualifying times. 

However, participants must be at least 14 on race day to participate in the half marathon or marathon and at least five years old to participate in the 5K race. In addition to the marathon, you can enjoy the attractions and activities available. 

5. Big Sur International Marathon

The Big Sur International Marathon offers runners the opportunity to run along one of the most scenic routes in the world, with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the rugged coastline of California. 

The course takes runners through iconic landmarks such as the Bixby Bridge and the Point Sur Lighthouse, providing a truly unforgettable experience. In addition, the marathon aims to promote sustainability, focusing on reducing waste and minimizing the event’s environmental impact. 

According to My Best Runs, the Big Sur International Marathon drives more than 4,000 runners from different countries to run 26.2 miles. The race starts in Big Sur and finishes in Carmel-by-the-Sea. You will love running steep hills along the way and enjoy the scenic views. 

The event will take place on April 30, 2023. If you are a domestic participant, expect to pay a $265 entry fee. International runners must pay $299 in fees to participate in the Big Sur International Marathon. 

Moreover, the Big Sur International Marathon does not require runners to meet any specific qualifying times or standards to participate. However, due to the challenging nature of the course, the organizers recommend that participants have previous experience running marathons. 

The event also offers several training programs and resources to help runners prepare for the race and build their endurance. Remember, the event has limited entries, so you must register early to secure your spot. 

6. Anchorage Mayor's Marathon

The Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon is an annual marathon held in Anchorage, Alaska. The race takes runners on a scenic journey through the city, including views of the Chugach Mountains and the Cook Inlet. The event includes a half marathon, a 5K race, and a Health and Fitness Expo. 

The Anchorage Running Club is a non-profit organization that organizes this annual running event. The organization aims to promote running, health, fitness, and wellbeing in Anchorage and the surrounding areas. The Anchorage Running Club has been operating since 1978 and organizing the event for over 14 years. 

According to Running State, the marathon is a certified course and is a Boston Marathon qualifier. The course starts and finishes at the Delaney Park Strip in downtown Anchorage and takes runners on a scenic loop through the city, including stretches along the coastal trail and past several parks. 

The marathon is typically held in late June, taking advantage of Alaska’s long summer days and mild temperatures. The event also includes a Health and Fitness Expo, where runners can learn about the latest in fitness and nutrition. You can meet with vendors and other running enthusiasts.

7. Honolulu Marathon

The Honolulu Marathon is an annual marathon race in the stunning setting of Honolulu, Hawaii. The race allows runners to run along the beautiful coastline of Oahu, with views of the Pacific Ocean and iconic landmarks such as Diamond Head and Koko Head in the distance. 

Besides, the event attracts runners from around the world and has a festive and lively atmosphere that celebrates the spirit of Hawaii. The Honolulu Marathon aims to promote health and fitness and celebrate Hawaii’s nature and culture. 

According to Bloomberg, the Honolulu Marathon Association, a non-profit organization, organizes the Honolulu Marathon, supporting local charities and organizations working for underprivileged citizens. The marathon will take place on December 10, 2023. 

The Honolulu Marathon requires runners to complete the 26.2-mile course within 8 hours to participate. The marathon is open to runners of all abilities without specific qualification standards or time requirements. 

In recent years, the event has drawn an average of around 25,000 participants, making it one of the largest marathons in the United States. The marathon has a reputation for being welcoming and inclusive, with runners of all ages and abilities participating in the iconic event. 

8. Pikes Peak Marathon

The Pikes Peak Marathon is an annual marathon race in Manitou Springs, Colorado, on the slopes of Pikes Peak. It is one of the most challenging marathons in the U.S., with a total elevation gain of over 7,000 feet and a summit elevation of 14,115 feet. 

The course takes runners through stunning mountain scenery, including forests, streams, and rocky outcroppings. In addition, it is open to runners of all abilities and offers a half-marathon option. 

The Pikes Peak Marathon Inc organizes the event. It is a non-profit organization promoting running and outdoor recreation in the Pikes Peak region. The Pikes Peak Marathon is typically held in August every year, taking advantage of the mild summer temperatures and clear mountain air. 

However, this year’s event will take place on September 16-17, 2023. The qualification criteria for the Pikes Peak Marathon require runners to have completed a qualifying race, depending on age and gender. 

The race is open to runners of all skill levels. However, you must be at least 16 years old on race day and must complete the course within 10 hours. We recommend this running event to runners with optimal fitness levels to relish a one-of-a-kind experience with stunning mountain scenery and an unforgettable course. 

9. Flying Pig Marathon

The Flying Pig Marathon is an annual marathon race that takes place in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is famous for its festive atmosphere, with participants donning pig-themed costumes and accessories as they run through the city. The event includes a half marathon, a 10K, 5K race, a weekend-long expo, and other festivities. 

The marathon course starts in downtown Cincinnati and winds through various neighborhoods, parks, and landmarks throughout the city. It covers several hills and bridges with scenic views of the Ohio River and the surrounding countryside. The race finishes at the Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals. 

It is a unique and fun-filled event that offers runners of all abilities a chance to experience Cincinnati’s vibrant culture and scenery. Moreover, the Flying Pig Marathon supports local charities and non-profit organizations, with participants raising millions yearly for various causes. The sense of community and purpose makes the event a fun and rewarding experience for participants.

10. Mount Desert Island Marathon

The Mount Desert Island Marathon is an annual marathon race on scenic Mount Desert Island, located off the coast of Maine. It is one of the best marathons to run in the United States, offering runners breathtaking views of the island’s forests, lakes, coastline, and challenging hills and terrain. 

The event includes a half marathon, a relay race, and a kids’ fun run. Likewise, it offers a post-race celebration and award ceremony. The marathon course starts in Bar Harbor, allowing runners to go through several of the island’s picturesque towns and villages, including Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor. 

The course includes several steep hills and challenging terrain, and stunning views of the ocean and Acadia National Park, finishing in the town of Southwest Harbor. The Mount Desert Island Marathon is a must-do event, especially if you seek a challenging and scenic marathon experience. 

We recommend it to runners so they can enjoy the marathon’s beauty and difficulty, with steep hills and technical terrain providing an actual test of endurance and skill. Crow Athletics, a non-profit organization, organizes the Mount Desert Island Marathon.

A Final Recap

Running a marathon in the United States offers numerous benefits, including exploring diverse and scenic courses and connecting with a running community. Marathons in the U.S. often support local charities and non-profit organizations, making them a meaningful way to give back while pursuing personal fitness goals. 

Besides, innovative and creative marathon events, such as the Disney World Marathon and the Flying Pig Marathon, offer unique and fun-filled experiences for runners. No matter which marathon you participate in as a runner, you will love the experience! 

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