Running a marathon is an incredible accomplishment that requires a lot of willpower and preparation. Supportive spectators, music on the course, or incredible scenery make each event unique. Each race below boasts excellent organization and a rewarding route featuring unique landmarks and beautiful landscapes. We included the World Marathon Majors (a series of six most renowned races that take place in New York City, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and Tokyo) and much more. So gear up for your wonderful 42-km-long adventure!
The European continent hosts two of the six World Marathon Majors, in London and Berlin. These prestigious running events use a lottery system to select applicants. So if you wish to run through the Brandenburg Gates or finish at Buckingham Palace, you have to try your luck. On the bright side, there are plenty of accessible marathon events in Europe. Seville Marathon, held in true Andalusian party style, is a perfect way to kick off your running season in late February. Or opt for an exquisite Monaco and the Riviera Marathon that runs along the stunning Mediterranean coast. Marathons in Rome, Paris, and Rotterdam are among the most popular and massive in the world. However, if you would prefer a small group of runners in a deserted place, try the North Pole Marathon in Svalbard. Finally, every true marathoner has to try the authentic marathon in Athens following the route that was first run 2,500 years ago.
Americans are keen runners and no other continent hosts as many large races. Boston and New York City top the list of not just American, but possibly world marathons. You can participate in elite running events through the lottery and in some cases qualification trials. Other popular marathons take place in Washington, D.C. on the East Coast, Chicago in the Midwest, and San Francisco, Portland, and Los Angeles on the West Coast. Canada’s biggest marathons take place in Toronto and Vancouver. If you wish to run in extremely beautiful landscapes, try the Niagara Falls Marathon, Banff Marathon, Lake Tahoe Marathon or the race in Honolulu. Some of the best-organized and most scenic marathons with incredible views are Big Sur and California International Marathon on the Pacific Coast. Want to run in a crowd of fun characters? New York, Disney World, and New Orleans have the most dressed-up crowds and the best entertainment.
One of the six “majors,” Tokyo Marathon is the most prestigious and competitive running event in Asia. With nearly 35,000 participants, it’s also one of the most massive runs in the world. The Mumbai, Shanghai, and Seoul marathons are the largest running events in Asia. The Great Wall Marathon in China and Taroko Gorge Marathon in Taiwan are smaller events that offer unique experiences and beautiful scenery. The highest marathon in the world, which begins at Mt. Everest base camp at 5360 m above sea level, is the Everest Marathon in Nepal, which crisscrosses high sherpa trails with a mind-blowing Himalayan backdrop. The Istanbul Marathon crosses continents, starting in Asia and finishing in Europe.
Africa is home to the fastest people on Earth, so naturally, it has many running competitions. The South African Republic is one of the top running locations on the continent, with not one, but several marathons throughout the year. The Two Oceans Marathon, which connects the South Atlantic and the Indian Oceans, is a great choice due to its stunning coastal scenery. Choose the Big Five Marathon for the unique experience of running past elephants, rhinos, buffalo, lions, and leopards or the Kilimanjaro Marathon for enjoying views of the highest mountain in Africa.
Australia may be a small continent, but it offers plenty of stunning scenery. Run the Sydney Marathon to witness the iconic Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera, pass by the scenic Uluru at the Australian Outback, enjoy the coastal views and vineyards on the Great Ocean Road, or opt for Australia’s largest running event in Melbourne!