If you are wondering which marathon to sign up for we have a list of ten of the most popular races run in America along with information about how you can register.
10 Popular Marathons In America
1. Boston Marathon
The Boston Marathon is run in April each year. It is the oldest marathon in the US following its inception in 1897. The 126th marathon will be run in 2023.
Registration opens in September and is based on qualifying times. Runners must qualify with a time standard.
There will then be dates where registration is allowed based on those times with the fastest runners registering on day one, the next group on day two and so on until it is sold out.
There are also charity spots available for sponsored runners.
2. New York City Marathon
The New York City Marathon has been run since 1970. The first race was held entirely in Central Park and only had 127 participants with 55 people finishing the race.
These days the marathon attracts more than 50,000 runners, it is the largest marathon in the world and is run in November.
To guarantee entry you must have a qualifying time, but you will need to apply during the open registration time and give proof of your time. Registration is in March with lottery applications being open at that time.
3. Chicago Marathon
The Chicago Marathon is the world’s fourth largest race based on finishers. Although the race’s origins are from the early 20th century its current format began in the late 1970s.
The race is run in October with registration opening in the previous October. It is a lottery application process, so you are not guaranteed a place when you register.
However, you can guarantee a place in the marathon if you run a qualifying time. You will still need to register before the deadline, however. Some spots may still be available through the charity program.
4. Honolulu Marathon
The Honolulu Marathon is run in December and 2022 will see its 50th anniversary. It is the fourth largest marathon in the United States with only New York, Chicago and Boston being bigger.
There is no time limit and everyone is free to register to enter the race but must be over seven years of age. All finishers receive a medal. This is a great marathon for first timers and amateur runners.
General registration is typically open in March and throughout the summer and can be done through the Honolulu Marathon website.
5. Disney World Marathon
The Walt Disney World Marathon is held in January and is the one of a few that offer a half marathon, a 5K and a 10K race (You might also be interested in The Top 25 Half Marathons In The US). These races are held on days before the marathon. Those who want to run all of these races can take part in what is called The Dopey Challenge.
Registration opens in April with Club runDisney Gold and Platinum registration taking place a week or so before general registration.
All the different races tend to sell out quickly so register as soon as possible.
6. LA Marathon
The Los Angeles Marathon was originally known as the City of Los Angeles Marathon. It is run in March and the 2023 race will be its 38th year. The race was inspired by the success of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
General registration opens in March with entrants needing to be 16 years of age or older. No qualifying time is required, but previous runners can be placed in different corrals near the front based on previous marathon finishing times.
Proof of these finishing times will be required.
7. MCM Marathon
The Marine Corps Marathon is held at the end of October and is known as one of the best beginner marathons. It is managed and organized by the Marine Corps over a scenic course.
This is one of the biggest in the US and in the world and has earned the nickname The People’s Marathon.
General registration opens in March and is done on a first come, first served basis. Guaranteed access can be obtained through completion of the Marine Corps 17.75K with registration for these runners opening in January.
8. Big Sur Marathon
The Big Sur Marathon is run on the last Sunday in April each year. The course goes from Big Sur to Carmel and there is a strict 6-hour race time limit. This means the pace of runners should be 13:45 per-mile, so entrants must be fit and well trained.
Those runners who do not reach specific mile points on the course within certain time limits will not be allowed to continue and will be transported to the finishing line.
Registration opens in July and the marathon is limited to around 4,500 entrants.
9. CIM Marathon
The California International Marathon was founded in 1983 and has a gently rolling point to point course. The number of participants is usually around 9,000.
The CIM is a great race for those looking for a PR, a Boston Marathon or Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying standard. However it’s also a favorite for first time marathoners.
Early registration is available from December to March and regular registration from March until May. Any unsold places will be available from June until sell-out.
You can transfer your bib to another runner if unable to participate.
10. Philadelphia Marathon
The Philadelphia Marathon is run in November and the course is very scenic and quite flat, which makes it a fast course. This is a great opportunity for runners who are looking for a PR.
The race weekend also includes an 8K run, half marathon and a kids fun run which take place on the Saturday with the marathon being run on Sunday.
Registration opens in April. Runners do not require a qualifying time to enter the race, but there is a cut-off time of seven hours.
We hope our guide to the ten of the most popular marathons in America has been helpful. Good luck!
- Competition Nutrition: Meal Planning For Those Training For A Marathon - August 18, 2022
- Best Racing Gear For Marathons, Half-Marathons, 5Ks And Fun Runs! - August 9, 2022
- How To Estimate A Marathon Time - August 8, 2022