Destinations Marathons

World’s Best Marathons

In the May/June edition of Departures, there is a lineup of what they consider the most travel worthy world’s best marathons. Of course, the term best is subjective, but I thought it would be interesting to outline them and then use this current list to pull some of our destination marathons from. To read the article in its entirety (along with photos), click here. (They will be listed in the order listed in the article)

  • Big Sur International Marathon
Big Sur Marathon is known for many things, most definitely its beauty.  It is a very popular race, in fact, it is the largest rural marathon in the US. It will take place on April 28, 2013. The marathon itself is capped at 4,500 participants but there are other events that place during race weekend as well. It is a point-to-point course.
  • Chicago Marathon
Chicago Marathon is one of the fastest courses in the country while also being one of the largest. 45,000 runners sign up each year in this event which only hosts the marathon distance. It has been said it is definitely the best way to see and experience Chicago. It will take place on October 7, 2012 and registration is closed for this year.
  • Berlin Marathon
This is yet another fast marathon and one that has a vast area of history that outlines its course as well. It was here in 2011 that the current world record for the marathon was set with a time of 2:03:38. It is truly something to be able to run in the same event on the same course with the person who just a short time before you, set a world record in your event. It will take place this year on September 30th and is closed having reached its cap of 40,000 entrants.
  • Boston Marathon
Of course no list would be complete without the most-storied of marathons – the Boston Marathon. To achieve entrance into this race, you have to meet the age-graded qualifying standards (which were recently changed). The marathon will take place on April 15, 2013 and registration will open on September 10th at 10:00AM. This race used to still have slots open right up into March (in fact, there was a marathon called Last Chance Marathon in early March to help those who still needed a qualifying time for that year’s Boston Marathon). Now, registration closes on September 21 (or when capacity is reached).
  • Honolulu Marathon
Now we are talking about some scenic, vacation styled destinations! This race is very popular with runners from Japan who make up 60% of the entrants. There is no cap on this marathon and it makes for the perfect race to couple with a nice vacation. This year’s race takes place on December 9th.
  • New York City Marathon
Every marathoner I have ever talked to about choosing marathons always puts this as their dream marathon. New York City is one of most exciting cities on earth and to be able to cover all five boroughs on foot along with over 45,000 of your fellow runners is something to look forward to. Entry into NYC is based largely on a lottery (there is a qualifying standard but it is more difficult than Boston). It will take place this year on November 4th and registration is closed.
  • Napa Valley Marathon
This is definitely a smaller race (registration capped at 2,300) but is perfect for the runner that desires beauty and quiet over the adrenaline rush of the big city marathons. It is a fast, point-to-point course and takes on March 3, 2013. The scenery looks beautiful and is sure to be a center point for a nice, well planned vacation to some of the most beautiful county in the US.
  • Marathon du Medoc
This marathon takes place in Bordeaux, France and is known for its tasting stands along the way (21 different food stations alone). There is a theme every year and runners are encouraged to dress for the theme and mingle along with each other as they make their way through the countryside. The average finishing time is over 5 hours as runners look to take their time and enjoy the environment. Registration is closed for this year’s race which takes place on September 8th.
  • Twin Cities Marathon
Twin Cities strives for the title of the most beautiful urban marathon. Situated in the northern Midwest, it is easy to see why that is the case. This race is capped at 12,000 runners and takes place this year on October 7th.
  • London Marathon
Another internationally acclaimed race – the London Marathon. This year, London plays host to the Olympic marathons of course, so you can expect some upgraded aspects to next year’s London Marathon as I am sure they will incorporate some of the special structures, facilities, and “leftovers” from the Olympics into the route and entertainment (many European marathons that take place in cities that have hosted Olympics will use the Olympic Stadium or other venues as prominent points en route if not as the finish line itself). This race is a fast race and also attracts a large number of runners who set out for costume runs, charity runs, record runs (longest time to run a marathon, inch-worming the marathon, running the marathon backwards, oldest person to run a marathon, etc). The race will take place on April 21, 2013 and open registration is already closed.
That is it for the Departures List of the World’s Best Marathons! In the next couple of days, I will pull one from the list to highlight as this week’s destination marathon.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

1 Comment

  • […] As promised, here is a write up on one of the marathons in that list of the World’s Best Marathons. Registration just opened for the Big Sur International Marathon this past Sunday and a record 26 hours later, all 3,150 entries were taken. Last year it took 29 days to fill. Obviously, the race has gained a larger following in that time and has attracted a lot more people. If you were one of the people that now holds a confirmed entry, hopefully you can use some of the information here to plan your destination marathon. Big Sur International Marathon Starting Line @ Big Sur International Marathon […]