The Ultimate Marathon Guide: 26 North American Marathons You Need To Know About

Marathons are no small feat. If you’re ready to dive in, keep reading to explore the 26 best marathons in North America, and get ready to sign up for a race to remember! 

The Ultimate Marathon Guide: 26 North American Marathons You Need to Know About

#1 Yonkers Marathon, New York 

The Yonkers Marathon is one of the toughest but most rewarding marathons you can run. This marathon is held every year in Yonkers, New York.

It was founded in 1907, and it’s the second-oldest marathon in the United States! 

This marathon is well-known for its tough, hilly terrain, and it starts and finishes in downtown Yonkers.

Although it’s a popular marathon, it remains a rather small event, with around several hundred race finishers each year. 

The Yonkers Marathon course route loops around the gorgeous Hudson River, with plenty of industrial areas to race through in the second half.

Miles 7 and 9 are known for being particularly challenging, and you can expect plenty of hills in the Hastings-on-Hudson neighborhood to keep you on your toes.

We wouldn’t recommend this marathon for first-time runners; it’s quite a challenge! 

The Yonkers Marathon usually takes place in September in downtown Manhattan, so you can expect temperatures of between 56 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit on race day. 

Resources and Contact Information: 

https://runsignup.com/Race/NY/Yonkers/YonkersMarathonHalfMarathon5Kaflt_token=EZnEDCiIAbEP0IXNk3reBNJGJev1hmeL

http://www.marathonguide.com/races/racedetails.cfm?MIDD=1055000917

Race Date: 18th-20th September 

#2 New York City Marathon 

The New York City Marathon has been described as nothing short of magical. With around 30,000 entrants each year, this marathon is exhilarating, electric, and notoriously challenging. 

Things kick off on Staten Island, where the marathon loops through Brooklyn, up by the East River, part-way through queens, and up to the Bronx.

Although it’s a predominantly urban race, there are plenty of gorgeous views to spot throughout the marathon, with the New York Harbor and the East River being the main attractions. 

The toughest elevations in the marathon appear at miles 1, 4, 8, 15, and 23 to 26. 

In 2021, the New York City Marathon celebrated its 50th running anniversary, and each year, the marathon attracts thousands of visitors from all across the globe.

This annual 26-mile rice may be a hometown race, but it’s also a favorite global sporting event. If you take part in the New York City Marathon, rest assured that it’s an experience you’ll never forget.

While it’s not an easy run, there’s an incredible sense of camaraderie in the race that’ll be hard to match with other marathons.

This is a rather grueling track (beginners, skip this one), but for more experienced runners, the New York City Marathon is a marathon you won’t want to miss. 

Resources and Contact Information: 

https://www.nyrr.org/tcsnycmarathon

Race Date: November 6th 

#3 Myrtle Beach Marathon 

The Myrtle Beach Marathon is an ideal marathon if you’re looking to set yourself a new personal record.

This marathon has a flat, fast course and little to no elevations – although it’ll still be a tough run, it may be one of the easiest (and prettiest) marathons you’ll ever run!

The Myrtle Beach Marathon takes place at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. The race tends to kick off at Robert Grissom Parkway and finishes at the Pelicans Ballpark.

Although full and half marathons are available, wheelchair and crank chair races, plus a 5k, can all be done at Myrtle Beach.

During your race, you’ll get the enjoy breathtaking views of the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, Boardwalk, and Thunderbolt Park. 

With a maximum elevation of 41 feet, the Myrtle Beach Marathon is a great marathon to take part in, whatever your age or fitness level.

What’s more, Myrtle Beach Marathon has plenty of post-race evening celebrations with complimentary beer and music so you can celebrate your wins in style! 

The Myrtle Beach Marathon has great feedback from its participants each year, and with an abundance of beautiful places to stay around the marathon route, this marathon attracts runners from across the country, and the world, each year. 

Resources and Contact Information: 

https://capstoneraces.com/myrtle-beach-marathon/

Race Date: March 4th 

#4 Big Sur International Marathon 

If fast, flat marathon courses aren’t your thing, let us introduce you to something a little more challenging.

With the Big Sur international marathon, looks are deceiving. Your running route may be beautiful, but this is in no way an easy one to tackle. 

Although the course’s route was seriously damaged in the 80s by unprecedented storms, the Big Sur International Marathon is back with a vengeance, and its become one of the most popular marathons in the country.

It’s not just the route’s incredible views that make it so popular, but you can even expect an appearance from a pianist in a tux! 

The Big Sur International Marathon runs from the Big Sur to Carmel on the nation’s first designated Scenic Highway.

This official Boston qualifier has an approximate 6-hour course limited and a total elevation gain of +2,182. 

During the Big Sur International Marathon, you can expect plenty of big, rolling hills, redwoods, ranches, and views of the pacific ocean.

This is the largest rural marathon in the world, and we promise it’s one of the most beautiful races you’ll ever run!

Just prepare to put in the training for this one – it’s a tough course but incredibly rewarding. 

Resources and Contact Information: 

https://www.bigsurmarathon.org/marathon-course-info/

Race Day: April 30th 

#5 Mount Lemmon Marathon 

Next on our list is the Mount Lemmon Marathon. This may not be as well known as some of the other marathons on our list, but it’s an incredible course.

If you’re looking to add more North American marathons to your bucket list, this is one you should check out! 

The Mount Lemmon Marathon takes place in Tucson, Arizona, and it’s a high-speed, and beautiful race.

With smooth downhill terrain, forests and canyons, this isn’t your standard marathon – expect to be put through your paces, and feel a sense of unparalleled accomplishment when you finish this run!

This is the fastest marathon and half marathon in Arizona and arguably, the most scenic! 

In the Sonoran Desert, your marathon begins at a 3000ft elevation and ends at 8300ft in pine and aspen forests.

The Coronado National Forest provides some of the most beautiful scenery on this marathon, but be warned; this is not one for beginners.

Race day temperatures can reach sweltering highs, and the elevations you’ll face are not for the faint-hearted.

However, with plenty of views of mountain wildlife, cactus fields, forests, and cliffs, it’s a memorable run that’s well worth the trip if you’ve done your training! 

Resources and Contact Information:

https://www.runrevel.com.rml

Race Day:  Unconfirmed – Race event currently retired 

#6 Chicago Marathon 

Chicago Marathon

Now, let’s explore a more urban marathon with the infamous Chicago marathon.

This isn’t as fast and scenic as Mount Lemmon, but if you’re not an experienced marathon runner, your body might thank you more for this event. 

The Chicago marathon is a world-class running event that takes place in Chicago, Illinois.

This marathon is one of the world’s six major marathons, and it’s one of the fastest marathon courses in the world. This marathon is one of the windiest cities’ biggest attractions, and it pulls in around 35,000 runners each year. 

Since it was founded in the 1970s, the Chicago marathon has pulled in thousands of runners willing to take on the marathon in both extreme low and high temperatures, with the record high for the marathon reaching 89 degrees in 2007. 

Don’t worry, though – temperatures are usually somewhere between the low sixties and the low forties in October when race day kicks off.

This is also a great marathon for newbies, too – much of the route is flat, so your race day morning will have you racing off to an easy start. 

The marathon course is looped and finishes alongside Lake Michigan. You’ll run for two miles through downtown Chicago and cruise through Lincoln Park, Old Town, and Boystown.

You’ll also pass Chinatown, Little Italy, the West Loop, and University Village before the race ends.

The Chicago Marathon is the race of a lifetime, with famous names like Paula Radcliffe making the list of seasoned marathoners taking to the races in hopes of smashing their personal bests and breaking records.

You’ll be in great company, have great fun, and get to take part in one of the most infamous races in the world! 

Resources and Contact Information: 

https://www.chicagomarathon.com/

Race Day: October 10th 

#7 Kiawah Island Marathon 

Let’s take a break away from the urban marathons and check out the Kiawah Island Marathon.

In 2022, the Kiawah Island Marathon will celebrate its 44th annual event, where runners take on 26.2 miles of incredible beauty at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina. 

The Kiawah Island Marathon may be a tough run, but it never runs short of incredible scenery to push you through.

With the race beginning and ending at West Beach Village, you’ll work your way through a mixture of forests, luxurious homes, and marshes – not to mention your views of the Atlantic Ocean will be unparalleled as you’ll spend large sections of the marathon running near the beach!

Both the marathon and half marathon are sanctioned and certified by the USA Track and Field Organization, and this marathon also serves as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. 

What’s more, the Kiawah Island Marathon is known for its weekend events that include events such as ‘the drip lounge’ (where participants can receive IV treatments of vitamins to aid recovery) and even a meditation and mindfulness conference, where participants can prepare for the race with a guided meditation to help them connect to themselves and open their minds before tackling the marathon. 

Since its inception, this Kiawah Island Marathon has been one of North America’s most popular marathons, and as the running community continues to grow, we expect it to stay that way! 

Resources and Contact Information: 

https://kiawahresort.com/recreation/kiawah-island-marathon/

Race Day: December 1st and December 10th 

#8 Montreal Marathon 

The Montreal Marathon (also called Marathon Beneva de Montreal) is an annual marathon that in 2022, will celebrate its 30th anniversary.

This marathon is held annually in Montreal, North America, in September. 

Due to the pandemic, the Montreal Marathon went on a two-year hiatus thanks to the pandemic, but it’s now due to come back with a vengeance!

This incredible course has been mapped out with incredible attention to detail, and participants can expect to run through some of the most scenic spots in Montreal, the North American city with a very distinctive European kick. 

For years, tourists have flocked to Montreal to experience its vibrant culture.

If you run the Montreal marathon, you’ll get to see some of its highlights for yourself – from its vibrant neighborhoods to the Botanical Gardens and Old Montreal, you’ll run from one shore to another on this island and see all its hidden gems in the process. 

The next Marathon Beneva de Montreal is expected to start in Parc Jean-Drapeau, a 500m walkway boasting super-flat surfaces and views of Montreal’s impressive city skyline.

Let’s not forget the St. Lawrence River, either, which will accompany you as you kick off the event!

All races in the vent will finish at Parc Olympique, which has up to nine plazas of different levels and surfaces.

The course runs through Notre Dame Island and Saint Helen’s Island, which runs through districts such as Ville-Marie, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, and Rosemon-La Petite Patrie. 

Resources and Contact Information: 

http://www.marathonrunnersdiary.com/races/international-marathons/montreal-international-marathon.php 

Race Day: 25th September 

#9 Dallas White Rock Marathon (Dallas Marathon)

Now, let’s take a look at the Dallas White Rock Marathon, now known as the Dallas Marathon.

The Dallas Marathon starts and ends in Downtown Dallas, with a unique run around White Rock Lake.

This marathon is good news for newbie marathoners, too – the course is predominantly flat, with the exception of a slight incline at around mile 20! 

The Dallas marathon course takes you through the downtown streets of Dallas, as well as the Highland Park Neighborhood, White Rock Lake, and more.

This marathon was founded in 1971, and since then, its become Dallas’ and Texas’ longest-running marathon.  

Although there aren’t too many inclines to contend with, you’ll climb almost 180 feet in just under four miles as you travel through Turtle Creek, Highland Park, and Longview Street at around miles seven and eight.

The first few miles of the marathon are also slightly uphill as you pass through Cedar Spring Road and Olive Street. 

Thankfully, though, the race weather and climate are always usually pleasant. Temperatures are usually between 39 degrees Fahrenheit and 57 degrees Fahrenheit, with light precipitation.

This marathon is fun, aesthetically pleasing, and packed with support from fans and local neighborhoods, so you’ll never feel low on morale during your run! 

Resources and Contact Information: 

https://rundallas.com/events/bmw-dallas-marathon-festival/sunday-events/

Race Day: December 11th 

#10 Grandma’s Marathon 

Grandma’s Marathon 

Now it’s time for the most unconventionally named marathon on our list – Grandma’s Marathon. This annual road race is held every summer in Duluth, Minnesota.

If you’re looking for a simpler marathon to tackle, Grandma’s marathon is one to explore. 

Grandma’s marathon gets its name from its first, and at the time only, sponsor, which was Grandma’s Restaurant. This marathon kicks off on the Old Scenic Highway 61.

You can even be dropped ⅓ of a mile from the start line by the marathons official shuttle buses and participant train! 

Grandma’s marathon shares its start and finish line with the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, with both races ending in the heart of the Duluth Canal Park – yes, that’s just a stone’s throw from the original Grandma’s Restaurant! 

The rest of Grandma’s marathon 13-mile course will take you through the shorelines of Lake Superior and up to the city limits, where crowds gather in their hundreds to cheer on the marathon participants.

Although there are some slight elevations to contend with, Grandma’s marathon follows a relatively simple (and short) route, with views that are NOT to be missed.

Remember, though, any road race requires training and pacing, including shorter marathons like this one! 

Resources and Contact Information: 

https://grandmasmarathon.com/

Race Day: June 18th 

#11 El Paso Marathon 

The El Paso annual marathon is held each year in El Paso, Texas. This course begins in San Elizario and finishes at the famous El Paso Coliseum.

This marathon slowly works its way uphill, so you can expect to face several inclines during your run.

However, most of the marathon takes place on a flat surface (namely road and pavement), with a slight loop in the course.

This marathon also counts as a qualifier for the Boston marathon. 

However, the El Paso Marathon and Half Marathon are having a course overhaul that gives runners a taste of all the different developments, neighborhoods, and historical features that El Paso has to offer.

This marathon is much smaller than some of the others on our list, with around 2,000 runners taking part each year.

The course will now finish at Southwest University Park. 

The El Paso Marathon has been held every year since its inception in 2007, and it’s organized as a non-profit by the El Paso Marathon Foundation.

Before you take to the course, remember that El Paso is nicknamed ‘the land of the sun’, so expect warm, sunny conditions for race day! 

Resources and Contact Information: 

https://www.elpasomarathon.org/

Race Day: February 11th

#12 Avenue Of The Giants Marathon 

Now, let’s take a look at another one to add to your bucket list – the Avenue of the Giants Marathon.

The Avenue of the Giants Marathon takes place in Humboldt Redwoods State Park in rural Northern California. 

This incredible course is one of very few that’s not associated with any corporate sponsors, and it’s an independently green organization, which in itself attracts hundreds of participants every year. 

The Avenue of the Giants Marathon has been held for 49 years, and its scenic course is truly one of a kind.

You can expect to wind through a paved course of forest, creeks, rivers, and old-growth redwoods over a staggering 26.2 miles distance. 

The race kicks off at the underpass at Bull Creek Flats Road and finishes in the same location.

Thanks to the 300 feet tall old-growth Redwood trees, most of your run will be in the shade, with cool temperatures remaining cool throughout the morning of race day!

However, these can sometimes interfere with the GPS on your running watch, so be mindful of this during the marathon. 

Although there are some inclines during this marathon, most of the course is flat, and any uphill movements are approached gently.

This marathon is also a Boston Qualifying event for those who want to participate.

This route was described as one of the nation’s most beautiful running routes in Runners World, and trust us; this is one you’ll want to experience! 

Resources and Course Information: 

https://www.theave.org/

Race Day: May 7th 

#13 Green Bay Marathon 

The Green Bay Marathon takes place in Wisconsin, North America, and by most race industry comparisons, it’s deemed to be a relatively fast and flat course.

With a 26.2-mile distance, this marathon is still quite a distance, so it may not be suitable for newbie marathoners. 

The Green Bay Marathon begins on Lombardi Avenue next to the stadium. Runners will then take on a route that heads in a counterclockwise loop throughout Green Bay and Hickory Hill Drive.

Once you’ve made it through here, your route will be filled with fast, flat neighborhoods with no gradual incline or ascent for at least 5 miles.

Although the ascent is gradual, it does continue for a couple of miles. 

Your marathon won’t be filled completely with residential neighborhoods, though.

As the miles progress, you’ll get to work your way through Sherwood Forest Park, where you’ll be greeted with a much-appreciated downhill descent.

Impressively, you’ll finish the race by running into the stadium, where you’ll run across the NFL team’s field – an unforgettable experience for fans! 

The Green Bay Marathon or Cellcom Green Bay Marathon also offers relays, a half marathon, a 5k, and kids runs – so, when you’re done with your own marathon, there’s no reason why you can’t get the family involved in the fun!

Resources and Course Information: 

https://www.greenbay.com/listing/cellcom-green-bay-marathon/3351/

Race Day: May 15th 

#14 Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon 

The Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon is a marathon like no other. This run is held in the spectacular mountains of Alaska, and it’s designed to coincide with the summer solstice.

The longest day of the year brings a complete day of sunlight over this subarctic region, and it’s a truly spectacular sight to see! 

The whole course for the Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon offers truly breathtaking views around the city, with forested trails and the Alaskan wilderness, with landmarks like Point Woronzof, the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, and Earthquake Park offering some of the most spectacular points.  

The full marathon kicks off at Bartlett High School, while the half marathon starts at Delaney Park Strip.

This course starts with paved, flat surfaces for around three miles, but as the course progresses, you can expect to contend with hillier conditions.

Miles three to five will give you some of the toughest hills in the race, which climb from sea level to 175 feet by the end of mile six.

Expect coastal trails, spectacular shorelines, and a course full of highs and lows (literally!). 

The course is situated in the coastal lowlands of Alaska, to the north of Kenai Fjords National Park.

Most previous race days have seen cool weather conditions, with averages between 48 degrees Fahrenheit and 63 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Resources and Course Information: 

https://www.halfmarathons.net/alaska-mayors-midnight-sun-marathon-half-marathon/

Race Day: June 18th 

#15 Steamboat Marathon 

Steamboat Marathon 

The Steamboat Marathon takes place at Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

This full and half marathon is described as one of the most scenic and unique races you’ll ever take part in – and we completely agree. 

Steamboat Springs is a truly authentic city with roots firmly established in the American West.

It’s also home to the Howelsen Hill Ski Area and the Steamboat ski resort, some of the area’s largest attractions.

The city also boasts some impressive geothermal hot springs, which are said to have therapeutic properties for those who use them. 

In 2023, the Steamboat Marathon will be celebrating its 42nd anniversary, where a full marathon, half marathon, and 10k will be offered to participants.

At the steamboat marathon, you can expect to run alongside the breathtaking Elk River through unforgettable green pastures, and the rocky mountains of Colorado surround you for a good portion of the course.

This Boston Marathon qualifier race was listed as one of North America’s top 10 marathon destinations – this is a truly unforgettable race that will set high standards for your future races!

Runners come from all over the country to take part in the Steamboat Marathon. This is a relatively small race that offers its runners a hometown feel.

You’ll feel valued and supported every step of the way and make memories that will stay with you for a lifetime. 

Resources and Contact Information: 

https://www.steamboatchamber.com/events/annual-events/steamboat-marathon/

Race Day: June 4th 

#16 The Novant Health Charlotte Marathon

Now, let’s take a look at the Charlotte Marathon.

The Charlotte Marathon, or the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon, was previously known as the Thunder Road Marathon, which used to feature a distinct NASCAR theme, celebrating the region’s close associations with auto racing. 

This marathon takes place annually in Charlotte, North Carolina. One day a year, the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon offers runners the chance to register for the Novant Charlotte Marathon, Half Marathon, 5k, and a series of Marathon Relay Events.

Each year, the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon benefits the Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital.

Since 2014, the marathon has raised a staggering $250,000 to support its efforts to care for children throughout the Carolinas and beyond! 

The marathon course is around half the distance of your standard marathon, too, making this a great marathon for newbies to take part in.

The marathon also covers a predominantly flat surface with few inclines, which is good news for runners who aren’t as experienced with longer, tougher marathons! 

Resources and Contact Information: 

https://thecharlottemarathon.com/races/#marathon

Race Day: November 12th 

#17 Little Rock Marathon 

The Little Rock Marathon began in 2003, and it takes place in Arkansas, North America. In 2023, the Little Rock Marathon will celebrate its 20th anniversary, offering a full marathon, a half marathon, a 10k, a 5k, and even a kids marathon!

The Little Rock Marathon is teeming with life and personality.

Although it’s not an easy run, you can expect to be greeted with that infamous southern hospitality, and a team of dedicated and caring volunteers are always on hand to help you.

Care, support, and hospitality make a great marathon – and you’ll certainly get them at Little Rock! 

The Little Rock Marathon starts at LaHarpe Boulevard, just behind the Statehouse Convention Center. You can expect plenty of hills and inclines during the Little Rock Marathon, so don’t expect an easy run!

However, the toughest hills can be found early on in the race, and you’ll be pleased to know that the hills get further apart as the race goes on.

This incredible road race pulls in hundreds of runners each year, so expect an exciting and lively race from start to finish. 

Resources and Contact Information: 

http://littlerockmarathon.com/course/ 

Race Day: March 4th and 5th

#18 Long Island Marathon 

Now, let’s explore the Long Island Marathon. The Long Island Marathon, set in New York’s Long Island, is a long-term, firmly established running tradition on the east of Long Island. 

The Long Island Marathon event offers a full marathon, half marathon, 10k, and 5k for participants to choose from. This event was established in the 1970s, and at the time, it only featured a 26.2-mile marathon.

Since then, this event has evolved drastically, and each year, it pulls in thousands of participants from all over the country. 

Most of the race events share the same starting line, at Charles Lindbergh Boulevard next to the campus of Nassau Community College.

Once the run gets going, participants can expect to follow the same route for the full and half marathon, where the course then splits at the mile ten marker. 

When you’re running this marathon, you can expect to pass through many residential neighborhoods and villages, and you’ll even get to see Museum Row!

Don’t be deceived, though; this is a pretty challenging course. There’s a good mix of hills and flat terrain, so you can really expect to be put through your paces on this marathon.

However, you’ll have plenty of support from the locals and marathon organizers to keep morale high until you reach the finish line.

This course is a tough one, and by the time you get to the finish line, you’ll probably be feeling thankful it’s over! 

Resources and Contact Information: 

https://runsignup.com/Race/NY/EastMeadow/LongIslandMarathon

Race Day: May 14th 

#19 Marine Corps Marathon 

The Marine Corps Marathon is held each year in Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Virginia.

The Marine Corps Marathon has a different approach from most marathons, with its intention being to generate goodwill in the community, promote better health, and show off the impressive organizational skills of the U.S. Marine Corps. 

The Marine Corps Marathon is often described as ‘the people’s marathon,’ and its had plenty of famous finishers, including Oprah and a range of Supreme Court Justices and even Vice Presidents! 

The Marine Corps Marathon takes runners on a beautiful route around plenty of famous attractions, including Theodore Roosevelt Island, Lady Bird Johnson Park, the Pentagon, the National Mall, and more.

This marathon is also another Boston Marathon Qualifier event, and in 2019, around 1.7% of finishers qualified for the event.

This 26.2-mile course starts in Arlington, VA, on Route 110, slowly moving through a range of well-known landmarks.

This course is relatively flat, and it’s widely known as the best marathon for beginners – so, inexperienced marathoners, this may be the course for you!

It’s also the largest marathon in the world that doesn’t offer its participants any prize money, earning it the infamous nickname of ‘the people’s marathon’. 

Resources and Contact Information: 

https://www.marinemarathon.com/events/marathon/course

Race Day: 30th October 

#20 Honolulu Marathon 

Honolulu Marathon 

Next on our list is the Honolulu Marathon. The Honolulu Marathon is the fourth biggest marathon in the U.S, and it takes place in Honolulu, Hawaii.

This marathon was first held in 1973, and since it began, it has attracted thousands of visitors from across the country and the world.

Unlike many other marathons, the Honolulu marathon has no time limit!

In 2023, the Honolulu Marathon will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Its course is described as 26.2 miles of paradise, with a running route that loops through downtown Honolulu and past some impressive landmarks, including Iolani Palace and Waikiki.

You’ll also work your way around Diamond Head and head out through Kahala and to Hawaii Kai. 

The Honolulu Marathon will also take you through residential and commercial areas before merging into the Kalanianaole Highway.

If you’re not a fan of ascents and inclines, you’ll be pleased to know that this course is mostly flat, with the exception of Diamond Head, which is the highest point of the course.

Impressively, this point is 124 feet above sea level and you’ll tackle it near mile nine. However, the views from this point are absolutely worth the ascent!

The whole race also takes place close to the ocean, so you’ll never be short on scenic views to give you a well-needed morale boost when things get tough! 

Resources and Contact Information: 

https://www.honolulumarathon.org/

Race Day: December 11th 

#21 Hoosier Marathon

The Hoosier Marathon takes place in Bloomington, IN. Since its inception, the Hoosier Marathon has built itself a solid reputation, becoming one of the most popular marathons in the U.S.

The Hoosier Marathon event also offers runners a half marathon and a 5k race, so you’ll find an event to suit almost every skill level. 

The Hoosier Marathon will challenge runners of almost every ability. The race kicks off at the IU Alumni Center, leading slowly towards downtown Bloomington and Courthouse Square.

This race is challenging, and you’ll have to tackle just over a mile of rolling hills – believe us, these really aren’t easy!

However, you’ll be rewarded with an incredible sense of achievement and some breathtaking views from the top of the hills.

Historically, routes have been subject to change if weather conditions and road closures affect the race, so be aware that the usual route may differ. 

The Hoosier Marathon attracts plenty of participants each year – you can expect between 1000-2000 other runners to join you on the route! 

Resources and Contact Information: 

https://hoosierhalf.com/

Race Day: April 9th

#22 Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon 

The Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon, or Derby Festival Marathon, is a mini-marathon with a course of around 13.1 miles.

This marathon is a truly spectacular experience, with as many as 30,000 runners, walkers, joggers, and wheelchair racers taking part in the race! 

This long-standing traditional race is held every springtime in Kentucky, and since its inception, its become the largest day of road racing in the entire state.

In 2022, the miniMarathon celebrated its 49th annual race, attracting thousands of participants from across the country.

This vibrant but challenging marathon is guaranteed to be a memorable experience for all participants, regardless of skill level. 

This marathon begins on the main street of Louisville Slugger Field and works its way through the Churchill Down before finishing at the Lynn Family Stadium.

You’ll also work your way through stretches of central park, university campuses, and a stretch up third street.

Although there are some slight elevations in this route, things are relatively flat and simple – let’s not forget this is a ‘mini marathon,’ too, so it won’t be as strenuous as other marathons, that can be around 10 miles longer than this one!

Resources and Contact Information: 

https://raceraves.com/races/kentucky-derby-festival-marathon-minimarathon/

Race Day: April 29th 

#23 Madeline Island Marathon 

The Madeline Island Marathon is held on Madeline Island in Lake Superior, Wisconsin. This event also offers a half marathon for those who wish to run a shorter distance. 

The Madeline Island Marathon starts and finishes at Joni’s Beach on Madeline Island. Both courses are USATF certified and count as full Boston Qualifiers!

Once you start the course at Joni’s Beach, you’ll run on a mostly paved roadway, with gravel roads spanning between three to four miles.

However, most roads will be open to traffic, so runners will be instructed to keep to a single file on one side of the road.

There are very few elevations in the Madeline Island Marathon, making this a great marathon for new runners to enroll in! 

The Madeline Island Marathon follows a scenic route that runs point-to-point. You’ll also get incredible views of Lake Superior and the surrounding woodlands on your journey.

The current course records are 2:53:47 for the full marathon and 1:24:02 for the half marathon – so get ready to smash some records! 

Resources and Course Information: 

https://www.madelineislandmarathon.com/

Race Day: May 20th 

#24 Oklahoma City Marathon 

Next on our list is the Oklahoma City Marathon. The Oklahoma City Marathon often called the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, takes place in downtown Oklahoma, pulling in large numbers of runners every year.

The marathon began in 2001, and it now hosts a massive 24,000 runners and walkers from across the country and the world!

This event offers a full marathon, half marathon, marathon relay, a 5k, and a kids marathon, making it a great event to get the whole family involved in. 

This marathon is the primary fundraiser for the Oklahoma National Memorial and Museum, making this event a truly unifying experience for the state of Oklahoma.

The main event kicks off at the gates of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. From here, you’ll work your way through beautiful city parks, the Oklahoma State Capitol, Brickton, Nichols Hills, and the Village.

This is a pretty tough marathon with quite a few elevations to keep you on (or off) your toes, so we wouldn’t recommend this course for beginners! 

However tough the course is, though, you’ll finish your marathon at the beautiful Scissortail Park in downtown Oklahoma, where you’ll be greeted with a big finish line festival on its 40-acre site.

You’ll have plenty of food and drink options to help you refuel, with some truly beautiful views to serve as the backdrop! 

Resources and Course Information: 

https://okcmarathon.com/

Race Day: Last weekend in April 

#25 Run For The Lakes Marathon 

Run For The Lakes Marathon

The Run for the Lakes Marathon in Nisswa, Minnesota. This incredible marathon is an all-volunteer run race, and it’s set amongst some relatively flat and forgiving terrain, so rest assured, you won’t be facing a particularly tough course!

This event also offers a half marathon and a 10k race for participants that don’t want to complete the full marathon. 

This quiet marathon takes you on a scenic tour through scenic lakes, quiet country roads, dense forests and woods, and waterways.

If you’re not a fan of urban marathons, the Run for the Lakes Marathon is one you’ll want to consider. 

Run for the Lakes, also called Brainerd Jaycees Run for the Lakes race weekend, attracts plenty of participants each year.

The race kicks off on Lower Cullen Road, where there’ll be plenty of water and Powerade available to keep you ticking over.

You’ll travel along Clark Lake, the Paul Bunyan Trail, and many other notable markers before finishing off at the entrance of the Nisswa Community Center.

Lake Hubert offers some of the most scenic views of the whole race but also some of the trickiest elevations – so watch your footing, and be careful! 

Resources and Contact Information: 

https://runforthelakes.com/events/marathon/

Race Day: April 29th-30th 

#26 Amica Insurance Seattle Marathon 

Last on our list is the Amica Insurance Seattle Marathon. This marathon event is Seattle’s original marathon and the oldest marathon in the entire Pacific Northwest.

It began in 1970, and since then, the Amica Insurance Seattle Marathon has boomed in popularity, raking in hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of participants each year. 

This marathon also offers a half marathon, a 10k race, and a 5k race for participants, and each event is dog friendly!

The kid’s marathon is also structured to allow children to participate one mile at a time, making this a great family event to take part in! 

This route will take you through some of Seattle’s most notable markers, including Capitol Hill, Portage Bay Viaduct, the Ship Canal Bridge, Green Lake, and more.

This iconic thanksgiving weekend event will give you an experience to remember, with plenty of waterways, architecture, and iconic bridges and landmarks to make your marathon experience truly memorable.

Start and finish lines can vary each year, so for more information about course routes, check the Seattle marathon website before race day! 

Resources and Contact Information: 

https://www.seattlemarathon.org/frequently-asked-questions

Race Day:  November 26th 

Marathon Training – The Ultimate Advice Guide 

So, you’re thinking of running a marathon – congratulations! You’re about to put yourself through your paces and take part in one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of your life.

Whether you’re a beginner runner or a seasoned marathoner, training is imperative.

Taking the time to train properly can make a big difference when it comes to race day, not just in terms of how quickly you get past the finish line but also in terms of your recovery, too.

Not sure where to start? We’ve compiled this convenient guide to help you train yourself up (the right way) for your next marathon event. 

*For the purposes of this article, we’ll walk you through a novice-level marathon training guide. If you need something more extensive, feel free to tweak this guidance to suit your level. 

How Long Does Marathon Training Take? 

The amount of time it takes to train for a marathon will depend on your fitness level, current running ability, and your marathon goals.

However, we’d always recommend spending between 3-5 months training for your marathon.

If you have limited running experience, you should spend 5, or even 6 months, training before you set off on your marathon adventure. 

Training for between 4 to 6 months will give you the time you need to develop the correct base mileage (we’ll come back to this) without pushing yourself too quickly. 

*Base mileage, or base miles, are what will help you create and maintain a good aerobic condition and capacity. Your aerobic conditioning and capacity are essentially your ability to run at a fast pace consistently. If your aerobic capacity is higher, you’ll be able to run for longer at your maximum speed. 

The Six Month Marathon Training Guide 

Before you start this six-month program, you should be able to run at least 2-3 miles without stopping.

However, you can also incorporate a run and walk strategy into this program if you’re not quite there yet. 

Remember: six months is a very generous amount of time to train for a marathon. You’ll be able to build up your strength and speed gradually, without straining your body or your mind.

This will also reduce your risk of injury while you’re building up your mileage, so you can approach your marathon confidently and injury-free! (P.S. your muscles and cardiovascular system will also thank you for this). 

The runs you should be focusing on are… 

Short And Easy Runs

When you’re training for a marathon, short and easy runs are a must. Ideally, you should attempt short and easy runs around 2-3 times a week to give your body the chance to adjust and count those miles up.

Each of your short and easy runs should start at roughly 2-3 miles each. When your training advances, you should be attempting 7-8 miles. 

When you do these runs, start off by going at a comfortable and sustainable pace. At the beginning of training, your focus should be on simply completing the runs instead of getting caught up on your pace.

Although you should aim to run without stopping or walking, don’t worry too much if you need a break at the beginning.  

Long And Slow Runs 

Your next focus should be on long and slow runs – another staple of marathon training. You won’t need to do these as frequently as short and easy runs; just try and aim for one a week.

Long and slow runs are designed to help increase your maximum running distance, and remember, you’ll want to run these slowly.

If you can master these runs without the need for a break, great! But, if you need to stop occasionally when you first start training, don’t worry too much. 

Speed Work 

Speed Work 

Last but not least, you may find it beneficial to incorporate some speedwork into your training.

However, this is optional, and we wouldn’t recommend you try it unless you have a solid, existing level of fitness and running experience. 

When you’re training for a marathon, you should aim to run at least four days a week, preferably with one cross-training session a week thrown in for good measure.

This will give you around two days of rest per week, and remember – rest is just as important for your body as training is.

Don’t overdo it, or your body will struggle to cope with the demands of a marathon run. 

Another thing to bear in mind is not to get caught up on your running speed. This only needs to be a priority if you have a finishing time in mind for the marathon.

If you simply just want to finish, then don’t set yourself running speed targets. If you do want to focus on running speed, speed work is an excellent training method to squeeze into your weekly plan.

Just remember to factor in those all-important rest days, and you’ll be good to go. 

Remember: there are four main blocks to marathon training. These are: 

  • Base Mileage: You aim to build up your weekly mileage slowly by running between three to five times a week. 
  • Long Runs: Every seven to ten days, you should add a long run to your marathon plan so your body can begin to adjust to running long distances. 
  • Speed Work: If you have a certain finishing time in mind, make an effort to incorporate speed work into your plan. Practice performing tempo runs and intervals to boost your cardio capacity and get you in shape for the marathon. 
  • Rest: Rest is just as important as training. Ensure you’re getting enough rest days in the week to help prevent injuries and reduce your chances of mental burnout. 

Marathon Race Day Tips 

If you’ve selected your marathon, done your training, and made it to race day… congratulations! This is the moment you’ve been training for, but your care, attention, and dedication doesn’t stop here. 

Over your weeks and months of training, you should be familiar with what clothes and shoes feel comfortable running in, and by now, you’ve probably figured out ways to fine-tune your gear and fuelling methods.

So, a big chunk of advice would be to NOT try anything new on race day. 

If you know what works, stick to it. Don’t attempt to wear new shoes or clothes or consume different fuels.

If you’ve found what works for you during training, this is exactly what you should be bringing to the marathon to ensure you’re performing your best. 

So, without further ado, here are some words of advice for before, during, and after the big event. 

Before The Marathon

Before the marathon, you should: 

  • Hydrate yourself well for several days before the event. Before the marathon, you should drink plenty of water before bed and plenty of water on the morning of race day. Although you can drink during the race, you’ll need to give your body as much hydration as possible before you start. 
  • Consume the right foods. Before the marathon, you should aim to eat a simple, high-carb breakfast. A combination of oats, energy bars, fruit, and even bagels can do the trick. 
  • Chafing is a big problem for runners. So, before you set off for your marathon, use something like Vaseline (or a specific chafing product for runners) on areas of the body most susceptible to chafing. This will keep you as comfortable as possible during and beyond the run. 
  • Make sure you get to the starting line early. You should also make sure you use the toilet before the event, but remember, queues may be long, so plan ahead. 
  • Most marathons start early in the morning, which means temperatures will continue to climb throughout the race. Even if it’s cold in the morning, don’t drown yourself in layers and overdress. This will make you more likely to overheat during the race, and it’ll be difficult to take your layers off while you’re running. 
  • Sometimes, we all want a little music to get us through the run. However, not all marathon courses permit headphones, so if you want to wear them, check ahead of time. Running with headphones can be hazardous, especially if you’re not running on a closed course. 

During The Marathon

During your marathon, you should: 

  • Start running slowly. Launching yourself off the start line at full speed is a well-known rookie error. Don’t be afraid to start slowly and pace yourself – you can save the big sprints for later. 
  • Don’t take a drink from every single station you pass. Instead, make sure you drink plenty before you hit the course, and if you do need a drink, only stop for a few seconds to hydrate yourself. 

After The Marathon 

You’ve successfully completed your marathon – but the care and attention don’t stop here.

You’ll need to make sure you’re taking care of your body immediately after and in the days beyond the marathon to promote a strong recovery and keep yourself in good shape.

Here are some of our top tips for immediate race recovery and beyond. 

On race day: Once you’ve finished your marathon, you should drink several cups of water or a sports drink straight away.

Your muscles will be tired, and they’ll need all the hydration they can get! Let’s not ignore the importance of cooling down your muscles, either.

If you can, walk around slowly for a while and perform some gentle stretches. You should also attempt to eat simple carbohydrates even if you don’t feel like eating – your body will thank you for it. 

after the race stretch

After the race: Once you get home, you need to give your body a chance to recover.

This means taking at least a week away from any intense exercise – so be prepared to push that running schedule aside until your body has recovered!

When you are ready to start running again, start off slowly, and don’t launch your body into any particularly exhaustive workouts. 

You’ll also need to make sure you’re getting enough sleep to promote muscle recovery and eating healthy, balanced meals for your body.

If you develop any injuries during the race, take the time to care for them properly, and treat your muscles to the rest they need to recover. 

When you run a marathon, your body becomes exhausted. This also makes our immune systems more susceptible to illness.

This is also why eating and sleeping well are important. If you can, we’d recommend taking vitamins to keep your immune system functioning and prevent any post-marathon colds or flu. 

Workouts To Build Strength And Endurance 

Are you wondering – when did running get so complicated? The reason why most people choose to run is that it’s simple. Fact. 

Sure, the act of running may be simple, but there are plenty of things you need to do for your mind and before to do it correctly (and safely).

This can include specific exercises, drills, nutritional plans, and workouts. As frustrating as these things may be, they’re not there to inconvenience you.

They’re actually there to help you, especially if you intend to run for longer distances, such as in a marathon. 

If you’re an experienced and seasoned runner, you probably have much of your nutritional and workout goals covered.

However, there are always things we can learn and incorporate into our lives, even as the most experienced athletes.

That’s why we’ve included this breakdown of some of the most common running workouts that you can use in your marathon training and even to just add into your weekly running routine for fun (yes, really). 

Progression Workout 

The progression workout is one of the most common workouts found in a marathon training plan, and the premise is simple: start off slow and finish off fast. 

With a progression workout, you’ll slowly increase your pace by starting off slowly and finishing harder.

Using this kind of pace will give your body a complete workout and will help prime your aerobic and anaerobic systems for the big marathon event.

What’s better, the progression workout does this WITHOUT putting excess strain on your body. So, let’s take a look at a sample progression workout for you to try below. 

The Thirds Workout: With this workout, you should aim to run 15 minutes at an easy pace, 15 minutes at a comfortably challenging pace, and 15 minutes at a hard pace.

The idea behind the thirds workout is to increase your speed at each 15-minute interval, starting off easy.

By the time you get to the hard pace, your body should be well adjusted to the previous changes, which will make tackling the tougher pace much easier. 

The Fast Finish Workout: With the fast finish workout, you should attempt to run 45 minutes at an easy pace, 10 minutes at a hard pace, and 5 minutes with everything you’ve got.

With this workout, you’ll be maintaining an easy pace for your body for the majority of the race and only pushing yourself at the final stretches. 

When you run a real marathon, there’s a good chance you’ll want to go for that last-minute, late-race push over the finish line. This is an excellent workout to do if you want to mimic this in your training. 

The Hill Workout 

Another workout you can try is the hill workout, sometimes called ‘disguised speedwork.

The hill workout gets this nickname because it usually has the same benefits as a standard speed workout, but without the need to run your fastest. 

When you run uphill, your technique is usually all about creating an explosive power that improves your running economy and gives you that all-important speed boost.

When you run downhill, things are different, and you’ll be working out your quads and building more strength in your joints and your tendons. 

If you want to be a better runner, focusing on both the uphill and the downhill is essential. If you’re going to be running a hilly marathon course, then these workouts are particularly important.

However, we’d recommend focusing only on one workout at a time to reduce the risk of injury, especially if you’re not an experienced runner.

Hill workouts are no small feat, so take your time and take it easy. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can start incorporating hill workouts into your weekly running schedule. 

Short Hill Sprints (Beginners and Advanced): For your short hill sprints, you should attempt to do around eight hill sprint repeats, finishing off with a light jog that leads to rest.

We’d recommend doing around 3 miles of paced running before this workout (Find out Will Running Two Miles A Day Get Me In Shape? ).

By doing these types of hill repeats, you’ll build up incredible strength in your legs, which will help you prepare for tackling those shorter hills during the big race. 

Sustained Hill Repeats (Advanced): There are two types of hill repeats you can do here: sustained hill repeats and sustained uphill and downhill repeats. 

For your sustained hill repeats, we’d recommend trying to do five half-mile hill ascents, preferably with a gradual incline.

If you do these, finish off with an easy run back down to cool down your muscles and rest.

These workouts are ideal if you need to train for a particularly hilly marathon or race, as they’ll help build up your endurance and your strength when climbing and on flat surfaces. 

For your sustained uphill and downhill repeats, things are a little different. Try doing the same five sets of half-mile climbs with a gradual incline, but on the way down, you’ll want to push yourself.

This should mean around a minute and a half to two minutes of rest in between. If you do this, you’ll soon find that each interval racks up to a complete mile.

Ladder Runs 

If you feel up to it, why not try incorporating some ladder runs into your workout?

The ladder run is one of the most popular interval workouts that consist of climbing up and down (either separately or together) over a set distance with a short jog and rest between each interval.

If you want to prepare for high-intensity runs, this is an excellent way to challenge yourself and spice things up during your next workout. Let’s see how the ladder run would work in your normal workout routine. 

*Note: these ladder run workouts are only advised for advanced runners, so we’re not offering a beginner method. 

Up & Down: For the up and down ladder run, try doing two 400 meters, two 800 meters, 2, 1600 meters, two 800 meters, two 400 meters, and add in a gentle jog between each interval.

As you can see, this workout is INCREDIBLY tough, but it will build up your leg speed and strength while testing your endurance. 

Down: If you want to focus on a down ladder workout, you can try doing two 1600 meters, two 1200 meters, two 800 meters, two 400 meters, with a gentle jog between each interval.

The idea behind this workout is that the more you decrease your distance, the more you’ll start increasing your pace. 

The Bottom Line 

In North America alone, you’ll find plenty of marathons to choose from. Whether you prefer large crowds and thousands of runners, or smaller marathons with fewer participants, there’s something for everyone. 

Even if you’re planning to run your first marathon, you’ll find at least one option on our list that’s suitable for you. 

Remember: training is imperative, so check out our marathon survival tips above, and see how you can tweak your training routine to prepare for the big day. Good luck, and happy running! 

Jessica Knight