First of all, it should be known that there are well over 1,000 annual marathons that take place in the United States, so narrowing down our favorite ones to share was no easy task. Over 541,000 racers completed various marathons in 2015 alone, and that number has been steadily growing each year. There are so many different options, from classic and iconic major marathons to silly and fun festival-like races. You can choose a race based on location, scenery, prizes, charity, or even entertainment options. Runners today are bombarded with all of these fun options, I’m sure even most non-runners reading this have been invited to their city's local charity walk or fun run recently.
While there are several different options for marathons, the benefits from completing one of these challenging yet rewarding races are all the same, and all outstanding. You will receive the biggest boost of self-confidence, a sense of personal empowerment, and an unlimited sense of accomplishment and achievement after your marathon. The races we chose to motivate you this year stuck out to us in one bold way or another, so read on and prepare for a year full of goal making and goal crushing!
Bank of America Chicago Marathon - Chicago, IL
What first began in 1977 with just under 4,200 racers has today become a staple race in the United States involving over 45,000 racers from all over the world, each fall around October. Part of the World Marathon Majors, this course is full of flat land and fast turns, winding through 29 different classic Chicago neighborhoods, from Lakeview to Little Italy!
TCS New York City Marathon - New York City, NY
Another major (or perhaps the most major) member of the racing Big Leagues is the TCS NYC Marathon, the world’s largest marathon that happens every November. Enjoy the 26.1 magnificent miles through NY’s five boroughs as you run from Staten Island to Central Park past some of the most iconic scenery in marathon history.
LA Skechers Performance Marathon - Los Angeles, CA
From Stadium to Sea
The LA Skechers Performance Marathon, or From Stadium to Sea Race, is the pinnacle of serious racer's career. A major racing event that starts at Dodger Stadium and ends in Santa Monica, this is a truly scenic race through Hollywood Hills and Ocean Drive that takes place each March!
Boston Marathon - Boston, MA
The Boston Marathon is truly the most iconic American race there is, though it has been somewhat clouded in reputation after the extremely unfortunate 2013 bombings. This, however, will be the race's 120th year going strong, actually the world’s oldest annual race! Over 36,000 racers will be heading to Boston this Patriot’s day to take part in this historic course. Prepare yourselves for the challenge of Heartbreak Hill alongside the roaring 500,000 plus crowd watching on the sidelines!
Yuengling Shamrock Marathon - Virginia Beach, VA
Though this is one of the lesser-known races on the list it is truly one of the most fun and rewarding, the annual Shamrock Marathon happening each St. Patrick's Day weekend in Virginia Beach. This race began in 1973 and today attracts over 23,000 racers annually, each ready to race through the best Virginia historic hotspots and landmarks. Enjoy such options as the Half, 8K, or Leprechaun Dash before you enjoy after-race entertainment with a "jig and swig."
Big Sur International Marathon - Carmel, CA
Back in Cali, you will find the world’s largest rural run, happening each year in late April, this year heading into its 30th consecutive race. This point-to-point course glides along scenic California Highway One and includes its infamous "13 hills in 13 miles." Just under 5,000 racers a year enjoy the Pacific Ocean views alongside the redwood forests, and in 2012 this race was actually voted the Best Destination Marathon by Competitor.
Jackson Hole Marathon - Jackson Hole, WY
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is a seriously stunning place full of some of the most gorgeous natural scenery, and this September they will be continuing their very small (350 racers) local marathon that was created for true nature lovers. Enjoy excellent fall foliage during this eco-friendly "cup-free" race, some of the most scenic vistas possible in the state!
Rock N' Roll Marathon USA - Savannah, GA
The Rock N' Roll Marathon Series is one of our personal favorites when it comes to a really fun race, this year traveling to several different locations, our personal favorite option in Savannah, Georgia, early this November. During these entertaining races you will be pumped full of energy with popular live music and the goings-on of a festival-like atmosphere, plus the funds raised are used for American charities in need of help!
RunDisney Marathon - Buena Vista, FL
Each year RunDisney takes the cake for fulfilling the younger crowd’s running desires, providing an iconic and truly magical 26.1 miles through all four parks in Buena Vista Florida, including Epcot and Magic Kingdom. Take part in various themed races and enjoy characters and entertainment on the course during your big moment!
Star Wars Dark side Marathon/ Light side Marathon - Buena Vista, FL
We had to take a moment to mention another personal favorite as far as fun goes, the new Star Wars Dark Side or Light Side Marathons. These races take place in Walt Disney World as well but are full of stormtroopers and Ewoks as you run through Darth Vader's turf to reach the finish line and save the galaxy. The Light Side races next January, the Dark Side this April!