There are more than 1,100 marathons in the United States every year. In 2014 alone, more than 550,000 runners finished a marathon in the US alone. It would be difficult, if not impossible, for someone to take part in every marathon, so it’s important to choose the best events. Some marathons stand out because they have a rich history and tradition, while others take place in great cities - like the New York City Marathon. Many, like the Honolulu Marathon and Big Sur International, offer a beautiful, scenic route. While others may offer even more unique kinds of experiences. While it is difficult to narrow down a list, these are the top 3 marathons runners should definitely run at least once:
Top 3 Marathons:
- New York City Marathon
- Honolulu Marathon
- Big Sur International Marathon
New York City Marathon
Runners travel through all five boroughs of the City, with cheering crowds and helicopters overhead. No other race can compare to the amount of crowd support, with high fives and cheering throughout the course. Participants will see a plethora of famous landmarks, and may find that their splits are a little slower as they try to take it all in. Novice runners might get pointers from elite runners, and may rub elbows with the many celebrities who take part in this marathon. The run is so popular that organizers switched to a lottery, and only 18 percent of the applicants got a place last year. The marathon partners with charities by donating entry fees.
- The largest race in the world, runners get to celebrate with more than 50,000 other finishers.
- At one point on Manhattan’s First Avenue, participants transition from near perfect silence to loud masses cheering for them.
- Runners cross the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, the double-decked suspension bridge that connects Staten Island to Brooklyn.
A tradition since 1973, this race is a popular choice not just marathoners but the friends and family they bring along for support. The Honolulu Marathon takes place in December and is unusual because of its 5am start time and that there is no cut off time. Runners can straggle in at any time and still be allowed a finish time. This flat route goes through downtown Honolulu, Waikiki, and Diamond Head, among other locations.
- Scenic view includes the Oahu coast and the only royal palace on American soil.
- Visitors can enjoy a free four-day Hawaii Marathon Expo before the run.
- After the marathon, runners can relax and recover on the beach.
Big Sur International Marathon
With its theme “Running on the edge of the Western world,” this is possibly the most scenic run in the country. The race goes from Big Sur to Carmel, winding along the beautiful California coastline, and follows the Pacific Coast Highway. The Big Sur Marathon is USATF certified and an official Boston Marathon qualifier, for those hoping to do both. Related marathon events are held to raise money for local charities.
- Runners travel through areas full of towering Redwood trees.
- At the halfway point, runners enjoy a pianist performance while crossing the Bixby Bridge, one of the most photographed features of the West.
- The Taiko Drummers provide unique entertainment at the halfway point.
While there are almost too many marathons to choose from, these three marathons offer some of the best features a runner could ask for. Marathoners can run coast to coast from Hawaii, to Big Sur and on to the Big Apple. They can see the Atlantic and the Pacific, and maybe even meet famous people who are also taking advantage of these amazing opportunities. These marathons offer challenging courses, followed by amazing rewards. If runners must narrow down their options and only choose three marathons, they should choose The New York City Marathon, the Honolulu Marathon, and the Big Sur International Marathon.