Ask any runner what their top marathons are and you would get as many different answers as there are runners.
Some runners enjoy a huge cheering crowd to help them get through the last grueling mile, some prefer tracks that are designed specifically for runners whether or not the marathon comes with a celebratory vibe. Some prefer runs that provide sight-seeing and pleasant surroundings. Others just like to run and any opportunity to do it is a great marathon in their eyes.
However, we have comprised a list of arguably the world’s best and most popular marathons for all different types of runners:
The London Marathon is a delight for every runner. Established in 1981 and fashioned after the New York City Marathon, the ongoing success of the London Marathon has made it a benchmark.
A huge field, enthusiastic crowds and an aura of celebration will amaze first time runners. The course itself offers enough sightseeing but you will be delighted by the crazy costumes and roadside entertainment along the way. Experienced runners will appreciate the speed of the course and the marathon’s impeccable organization.
The course starts in Blackheath and Greenwich Park in South-East London. It finishes beside St. James’ Park on the Mall. The course passes by most of London’s iconic landmarks – the Big Ben, the Tower of London, the London Eye and it even runs along the River Thames.
The Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris attracts up to 50,000 runners every April to experience the magnificent sight-seeing route on foot. Unlike other European marathons that advertise picturesque runs despite the majority of the route being industrial waste lands, the Paris Marathon actually delivers.
The 42km loop around the city packs in as many tourist sites as possible, making for a truly enjoyable run. This marathon is usually held in April every year. Just in time for springtime in Paris, making the route even more beautiful.
Before becoming the marathon big player that it is today, the Paris marathon used to suffer from inadequate support and organizational incompetence. The organization of the marathon has since improved but the locals have a definite indifference to the whole event, probably because they feel it’s more trouble than it’s worth, so don’t expect roaring crowds at this marathon.
The race starts at the Avenue des Champs-Elysees and finishes on Avenue Foch. Running through the route, you can expect to pass by the Place de la Concorde, the Louvre, the Seine and the Eiffel tower.
The Boston Marathon is one of the oldest modern marathons in the world. Right after the first modern marathon at the 1896 Olympics, the Boston Marathon was started in 1897 and has been a fixture in the world of long distance running ever since. This marathon is so steeped in tradition and history, and has an amazing roadside crowd.
The course itself is one of the best in the world and has a surprisingly quick point to point course. Despite the number of runners who would be glad to enter the Boston Marathon, this marathon is one that is truly for elite runners. The marathon has strict qualifying standards, and even meeting the qualifying standards still does not guarantee you a spot. If you do manage to get a spot on the Boston Marathon though, you will be greatly rewarded for your efforts. The course itself is flat, and passes most if not all of Boston’s famous sights. The race is also held on a state holiday, Patriot’s Day, ensuring an upbeat party crowd.
The race begins at Hopkinton, a site that has hosted the beginning of the marathon since 1925, and ends at Copley Square adjacent to the Boston Public Library. Experienced runners will love the challenge of pushing through Heartbreak Hill at the very end of the race when all your energy is all but spent.
Berlin is proud of their marathon’s reputation as a runner’s race. Despite making headlines because of recent world records, the BMW Berlin Marathon remains a race that all runners (professional and amateur) can look forward to and enjoy. As it is often stereotypically expected of the Germans, this race is impeccably and efficiently organized. You could not ask for a more organized race.
This is just as well because the race attracts upwards of 20,000 people every year and that includes runners and in-line skaters who share the road with the runners.
If you’re not too competitive and are not out there to break any sort of record there is some benefit to taking it a little slower in the Berlin Marathon. The race is a modern history and architecture class of a sort. The course is dotted with grand historical architecture and drab and somber buildings of Socialist East Berlin. The course both begins and ends at the Brandenburg Gate.
New York City, USA/November
The New York City Marathon has come a long way since its first race in the 1970’s. Back then it had 55 runners who ran laps around Central Park. Now, it has grown to include at least 50,000 participants every year and the course now spans over all the 5 boroughs of New York instead of just Central Park.
It is one of the most popular marathons internationally. Every year, runners from all over the world come to New York City for this huge event. This is a classic big city marathon, as New York’s streets get filled to the brim with celebration and merriment. One big reason why so many runners come to New York is the unique atmosphere and supportive crowds. Most runners would agree that this particular race is really a race you should experience at least once in your life. A deceptively hilly course also draws a huge crowd of top-tier runners because of how challenging this course can be.
The race begins at Staten Island in Fort Wadsworth and it finishes by re-entering Central Park and ending just outside Tavern on the Green. The course is a total of 26 miles or 41.84km.