Top 7 Most Prestigious Marathons in the World
Do you know what it feels like to cross the finish line after a 26.2-mile run? Whether you’ve experienced the thrill of completing a marathon before or you’re planning on running your first one soon, there’s a marathon course out there for everyone. If you want to take your love of running to the extreme, hop on a plane and compete in one of these prestigious marathons around the world.
Although the Boston Marathon has grown to elicit a new meaning after the terrorist attacks in 2013, it has always been a well-known event. The first Boston Marathon was held in 1897, making it the oldest marathon in the United States today. Qualifying standards are so rigorous that runners earn bragging rights just for qualifying. Racers gather on Patriots’ Day outside of Boston in Hopkinton and run through several New England towns before finishing in the center of Boston.
Great Wall Marathon
Not only does the Great Wall Marathon, held each May, put you at the scene of history, but it’s also known as one of the hardest marathons to run. Throughout the race, you’ll have to climb 5,164 steps of The Great Wall of China, and because of that, it will probably take you about 50% longer than normal to complete. However, the views of China’s countryside are fantastic and you’ll race through beautiful Chinese villages and past rice fields before finishing in Yin and Yang Square.
New York City Marathon
The New York City Marathon started in 1970 with just 55 finishers and has now grown to be the largest marathon in the world – with over 50,000 people finishing the race in 2014. Despite the large number of racers, this is actually a tough marathon to get into. Should you qualify, you’ll race through all five New York City boroughs, so it’s the perfect run if you love the urban setting.
The Athens Marathon is one of Greece’s biggest sporting events. Go back to where it all started, and run the route from Marathon to Athens as Pheidippides did in 490 B.C., where the term “marathon” got its name. Although the course is mostly uphill, the marathon has a rich history that makes joining the 13,000 other runners worthwhile.
The London Marathon is an in-demand race that takes you past London’s greatest landmarks like The Tower of London and the London Eye before finishing in front of Buckingham Palace. It’s also one of the largest races worldwide. In 2014, despite nearly 170,000 runners applying to the race, around 35,800 finished. Most years average between 34,000 and 37,000 finishers.
Also one of the largest marathons in the world, the Tokyo Marathon features around 35,000 runners (despite the 300,000 lottery entries they receive) and 1.6 million spectators. The race takes you through a flat, urban setting past many of Tokyo’s landmarks, such as the Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower, and Tokyo Station.
Taking place in September, the Berlin Marathon has grown from 286 runners in 1974 to over 40,000 racers in 2015. In all categories, including inline skating, wheelchair, and Breakfast Run divisions, the 2015 race saw 58,776 participants from 127 nations. This race takes you through areas of German history, but it’s also a quick race. In 2014, Dennis Kimetto won with an impressive time of 2:02:57.
Although these races are some of the most well-known, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Wherever you want to travel, there’s sure to be a marathon scheduled nearby. Simply slip on your shoes and socks and get started with your training!