Marathon running has become a popular activity for fitness enthusiasts, as well as professional athletes. The United States is home to several world-renowned marathon races that attract runners from all over the world. In this article, we will be ranking the top 7 best marathon races in the U.S. based on their popularity, scenic routes, and level of difficulty.
How long is a marathon?
Marathons are long-distance running events that require immense stamina and endurance to make it all the way to 26.2 miles or 42.195 km. You often have to qualify for the best marathon races in the U.S. because they are prestigious and the event wants to ensure it has a competitive set of runners ready to go. The United States has several marathon races that have been attracting runners from all over the world for many years. These races offer runners a chance to challenge themselves physically, while also taking in the scenic beauty of some of the most beautiful cities in the U.S.
7. Houston Marathon
The Houston Marathon is one of the largest marathons in the United States, attracting thousands of runners every year. The event takes place on the second Sunday of January, and the mild winter climate in Houston makes it an ideal location for a marathon. The course starts and finishes in downtown Houston and winds through some of the city’s most scenic neighborhoods, including Memorial Park and Rice University. One of the unique features of the Houston Marathon is that it offers a flat and fast course, which makes it a popular choice for runners looking to set a personal record. Additionally, the course is well-supported with aid stations and enthusiastic volunteers, creating a fun and engaging atmosphere for participants.
6. Los Angeles Marathon
The Los Angeles Marathon is a race that is famous for its stunning views of the city and the surrounding landscape. The course starts at Dodger Stadium and finishes in Santa Monica, taking runners through some of L.A.’s most iconic landmarks, such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Sunset Strip. The race is known for its energetic and supportive crowds, which make the event a true spectacle. The course is moderately challenging, with several hills and sharp turns along the way, but the incredible views of the city and the vibrant atmosphere make it all worth it. The Los Angeles Marathon is also unique in that it offers a “Stadium to the Sea” course, which means that participants will experience a wide range of terrain, from urban streets to ocean breezes.
5. Philadelphia Marathon
The Philadelphia Marathon is a beautiful race that takes runners through some of the city’s most historic neighborhoods. The course passes by Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, as well as other landmarks that are steeped in American history. The marathon takes place in November, which means that the weather is cool and comfortable for runners. The course is relatively flat, making it an ideal location for runners who are looking to set a personal record. One of the unique features of the Philadelphia Marathon is that it offers a variety of race distances, including a half-marathon and an 8K, which means that there is a race for everyone. The marathon also has a festive and celebratory atmosphere, with plenty of support from volunteers and cheering spectators along the way.
4. Marine Corps Marathon
The Marine Corps Marathon is a unique and inspiring event that takes place in Washington D.C. and Arlington, Virginia. The course of the race is hilly and challenging, but it offers runners a chance to see some of the most famous landmarks in the country, including the National Mall and Arlington National Cemetery. The race has a patriotic atmosphere, with runners passing by monuments and memorials honoring those who have served in the military. The Marine Corps Marathon is known for its strong sense of community and camaraderie, with runners coming together to support and encourage one another.
3. Chicago Marathon
The Chicago Marathon is a race that is famous for its flat and fast course, making it a popular choice for runners looking to set personal bests. The course winds through the heart of downtown Chicago, with runners passing by some of the city’s most famous landmarks, including the Willis Tower and the Magnificent Mile. The race has a reputation for being well-organized and well-supported, with thousands of spectators lining the streets to cheer on the runners. The mild October weather also makes it an ideal time for runners to attempt to break their personal records.
2. Boston Marathon
The Boston Marathon is one of the most prestigious and sought-after marathons in the world. The race has a rich history dating back to its first running in 1897, and it has since become an institution in the world of distance running. The course is challenging, with steep hills and difficult terrain, but this only adds to the allure of the race. The Boston Marathon is also known for its unique qualifying standards, which require runners to meet certain time requirements in order to be eligible to participate. This has helped to create a field of runners who are dedicated and passionate about the sport, and who bring a high level of skill and commitment to the race.
1. New York City Marathon
The New York City Marathon is an event that captures the imagination of runners and non-runners alike. It is a truly iconic race that attracts runners from all over the world who come to experience the energy, diversity, and excitement of one of the world’s most vibrant cities. The course of the race is an unforgettable journey through all five boroughs of New York City, with runners starting on Staten Island and finishing in Central Park. Along the way, they will encounter some of the most challenging hills of any major marathon, including the infamous Queensboro Bridge. But the cheering crowds and unique atmosphere make it all worth it.
How to Become a Runner
How do I qualify for the Boston Marathon?
To qualify for the Boston Marathon, you must meet the qualifying time standards for your age group and gender. You can check them out here.
How do I register for the New York City Marathon?
You can register for the New York City Marathon through their official website during the registration period.
What is the route for the Chicago Marathon?
The route for the Chicago Marathon passes through some of Chicago’s most iconic landmarks, including the Willis Tower and the Magnificent Mile.
What is the best time of year to run a marathon in the U.S.?
The best time of year to run a marathon in the U.S. varies by location, but generally, spring and fall offer milder temperatures and ideal running conditions.
Can I walk a marathon instead of running it?
Yes, many marathon races allow participants to walk the course instead of running it, as long as they complete it within the designated time limit.
What makes a marathon one of the best?
When we say “best” marathon races, we are referring to those that are super competitive in the U.S. and often require you to qualify in order to earn entry.
Marathon running has become a super popular activity for fitness enthusiasts and professional athletes. From the challenging New York City Marathon to the historic Boston Marathon, the U.S. offers a variety of options for marathon runners of all levels.
In addition to the challenge of completing a marathon, these races offer runners a chance to connect with fellow runners from all over the world, creating a sense of community and camaraderie. They also offer a chance for runners to fundraise for various charities and causes, making it a meaningful and rewarding experience.
Whether you’re looking for a challenging course, a scenic route, or a chance to connect with fellow runners, one of the best marathon races might be waiting for you in the U.S.