With many of us starting to think about training for our fall marathons, I thought it would be good time to reflect on what I consider the top U.S. marathons you should try to run before you hang up those ol’ running shoes. This list is based off of marathons I have run, have had friends run and good old fashion research.
These are not necessarily the fastest, hardest or best weather marathons – just ones I feel have staying power, good organization, good crowd support and are usually some of the older marathons out there. My bias, I will throw out here, is that I enjoy the pageantry and gala of a big marathon. While I know some of you like the small town marathon, I am not a big fan. My only reason is that if I am going to train 5-6 months for a 26.2 mile race I want people to know about it and be cheering for me all the way through.
So, here you go…
- Boston Marathon – Do I really need to explain this one? Great crowd support, oldest marathon in the U.S., you need to qualify to get in, you run on a Monday, it’s a state-wide holiday (Patriot’s Day) so throngs of people are out there cheering you on and what a great vibe all around. (April)
- New York City Marathon – One of the hardest marathons to get a spot for because of the number of people who register every year. If you do run some faster times for your age then there are some automatic spots for you. I’m from New York and would work the marathon every fall – what a blast. Great crowds, great finish in Central Park – and you’re in NYC – the Big Apple, baby! You run through all 5 boroughs of the city, which is way cool, as well. (November)
- Chicago Marathon – This was my first ever marathon run – I didn’t train enough, but still had a blast. Chicago is just a great city on so many levels (and this race being one of them). It’s a fast course with again great crowd support and very well organized. (October)
- Marine Corps Marathon – Any race where you get saluted by a marine and given a heartfelt “congrats” I say go race it. Just a good feeling and patriotism surrounds this race. People are running not only for themselves but for lost loved ones, as well. People are pushing their wounded warriors through this race – a very emotional day on many levels (October).
- Philadelphia Marathon – This is where I ran my marathon PR, so I may be a bit biased here, but it is a well run marathon in one of the largest and most historical cities in the U.S. The course is fair, the whether usually is great and the city has really embraced it. (November)
- Napa Valley Marathon – Any race where the winners get their weight is wine is all the reason I need to run it. Heck, your running in Napa – just make it a weekend with some friends and family and enjoy some good food, wine and, oh yeah, a great marathon as well. The weather usually cooperates, volunteer support is awesome and what scenery to take in while you run. (March)
- Twin Cities Marathon – A fast, scenic and well thought out course. Great fan and volunteer support. Has been the USATF Marathon National Championship for a number of years as well. And you can hang out in the Metrodome before the start, which is pretty cool. (October)
- Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon – Just what a great name for a race. The crowd support and music along the course is awesome! And so many wonderful views as well. Wonderful volunteers and good on the water stops. Cincinnati is a sneaky cool city – so check this one out! (May)
- California International Marathon – Great town, great support, great weather, and great organization. A good race to run a PR in as well. (December)
Like to know what your favorite marathons are. Let the debate begin…