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A Marathon Guide to
the Best Races

See below marathon guide for a complete overview of the most popular marathons. If you haven’t decided which one you’ll be running, read the list and see if any of them spark your fancy.

Boston Marathon
If you haven’t heard about the famed “Heartbreak Hill” you will soon enough. A fairly fast course, Boston attracts the world’s top marathoners. This will not be your first race as you need to qualify to register, i.e. if you’re in the 18-34 year old range, you need to have completed another sanctioned marathon within 3hrs 10min. That’s fast! Marathon Guide 101.

Course Type: Fairly flat except for Heartbreak Hill at the 20-mile marker
Date: April

New York Marathon
On the first Sunday of November, the NYC Marathon travels through all five boroughs. There are about 37,000 runners that finish every year, including P. Diddy who finished in 4hrs 14mins, in an effort to raise $1 million for charity. Like Heartbreak Hill, the Queensboro Bridge is painful! At about the 15-mile mark, runners tend to tire out a bit.

Course Type: Fairly flat except for the Queensboro Bridge at the 15-mile marker
Date: November

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Chicago Marathon
Rounding out the big three, the Chicago Marathon parades about 45,000 runners through the “City of Big Shoulders.” Like NYC, it meanders through a diverse group of neighborhoods including past Wrigley Stadium, Chinatown and Grant Park. The 2007 race was decided by .05 seconds with Kenya’s Patrick Ivuti barely taking out Jaouad Gharib of Morocco. More below on the Marathon Guide.

Course Type: Flat except for… nope, just flat.
Date: October

Las Vegas Marathon
Like one-armed bandits and bright lights? Welcome to the “Sin City” marathon where you can gamble, finish a marathon, see Elvis and get married on in the first mile or two. Luckily, organizers set the date in December to avoid the summer desert heat. I'm such a great Marathon Guide.

Course Type: Fairly flat
Date: December

Honolulu Marathon
Need a vacation? Like to run? Then running a marathon on a beautiful tropical island is for you. With an average temperature of 80 degrees during the month of December, Honolulu makes the perfect setting for a much-needed vaca… wait, this is a run, not a vacation! You’ll still need to train hard, but a post-run beach nap would be nice. The course starts at Ala Moana Center and heads toward Diamond Head before finishing at Waikiki’s Kapiolani Park. The course is a bit hilly.

Course Type: Hilly
Date: December

Houston Marathon
Welcome to oil country! This is a very fast course that starts at Minute Maid Park – home of the Houston Astros. Because it’s flat, it is a popular course for those looking to qualify for the Boston Marathon. It meanders through a variety of historic neighborhoods, passes by Rice University and finishes at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston. Luckily it’s in January, so the heat won’t be too bad.

Course Type: Flat
Date: January

Austin Marathon
Second in attendance only to “Austin City Limits,” (OK, I’m not sure if that’s true…) the Austin Marathon was established in 1992. Jynocel Basweti took first in 2007 with a time of 2:14:02. While I encourage you to train for a fast time, you should probably put a sub-three hour marathon down as a future goal. Again, this is another fairly flat course.

Course Type: Fairly flat
Date: February

Philadelphia Marathon
November in Philly? Yes, it’s going to be chilly, but it will be worth it. Known as the Independence Marathon, the Philly Marathon starts and finishes at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Check out City Hall and a few other historic locations while on the course and don’t forget to bring warm clothes. But remember, running a marathon in cooler weather usually allows for a faster time.

Course Type: Fairly flat
Date: November

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