Let’s dive right in to help you figure out which marathon you should run. This all depends on a bunch of factors like is it your first time running a marathon? What is your projected pace? Are you looking for a Boston qualifying time? Do you want a large race or small race? Keep reading to help figure out the right race for you.
If it is your first marathon you will want to figure out what your goal is. If it is just to finish and have fun, then pick a race that offers a great atmosphere and a more generous time limit. My personal recommendation to people is the Disney World Marathon. It always takes place in January and is a ton of fun, a great marathon for first timers, and offers a generous time limit, with a 16 minute mile pace maximum requirement.
If you are looking to run (or avoid) the hardest marathon, you will want to steer clear of the Blue Ridge Marathon. It is known as one of the hardest road marathons in the U.S. because you are either constantly climbing or dropping. You may also want to avoid Pikes Peak Ascent & Marathon. You have to make your way up a winding narrow trail of gravel, rocks, and dirt. Runners start at 6,300 feet of elevation and make their way up to Pikes Peak at 14,115 feet, and then make the extreme descent.
For those of you that are new around here, a BQ means a Boston Qualifying time. This means you will want a fast course to help you get a better time to qualify. My recommendation for a great marathon to qualify for Boston would be the Chicago Marathon because it is flat and fast with amazing crowd support to keep you energized. It is a really big race though and has a lottery if you don’t have a qualifying time, so you will want a good corral to start towards the front and not get stuck weaving through traffic in the back. CIM (California International Marathon) in Sacramento, CA is also known as a great BQ race. This isn’t as large as Chicago and doesn’t have the amazing crowd support, but the course is promising. This race is in December though, so the weather could be perfect, or also could be cold and rainy. Mountains 2 Beach Marathon is also known to be a great course with a gradual downhill to help your speed. I haven’t ran the full, but I ran the M2B half and you can read all about that here. REVEL Mt. Charleston also produces a lot of BQ’s.
This is totally subjective question. If you are looking for prestigious it is definitely the Boston Marathon. You have go be fast and have a great qualifying time to get in, or you have to raise a ton of money for charity to be able to run. The New York City Marathon is also either qualifying or a lottery that is extremely hard to get into, but is so much fun. If you are looking for the best, as in crowd favorites, here are some of suggestions: Honolulu Marathon, Twin Cities Marathon, Maine Corps Marathon (you can read my post about it here), all of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathons, Los Angeles Marathon (read about it here), and of course the Walt Disney World Marathon.
Here are lots more running posts to help guide you on this journey:
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