If you’re looking for a flat, fast marathon course, that’s well supported and has plenty of beautiful scenery to keep you distracted, look no further than one of these 10.
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Photo Credit: William Zain
October 8, 2017 – Portland, Oregon
While you might run this in the rain, the course is mostly flat and crosses the Willamette River twice with long sections along the riverfront. The average October temperature is a runner-friendly 60°F, and for those of you worried about the six-hour time limit most marathons enforce, the Portland Marathon extends it to eight.
Photo Credit: The Q Speaks
MARINE CORPS MARATHON
October 22, 2017 – Washington, D.C.
Despite the seriously tough hill at mile 26, this is a great marathon for beginners because of the crowd support. Beginning and finishing near Arlington National Cemetery, the loop course makes it easy for the close to 100,000 spectators to come out and cheer. Near the finish, just after you pass the Washington Monument, you’ll get a healthy number of Marines providing additional motivation to get you to the finish. Unlike most major marathons, you won’t need a qualifying time or have to enter a lottery to sign up.
Photo Credit: AmandaD_TX
November 19, 2017 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Though you will be near the famous “Rocky” steps, fortunately you won’t have to climb them. Motivating movies aside, this flat, fast course provides diverse scenery, from the historical district on Chestnut Street to the secluded path along the Schuylkill River. This race is also known for enthusiastic spectators and consistent pace groups for runners with a time goal in mind. The weather will be on the chilly side with an average start time temperature of around 45°F.
Photo Credit: Dave Klukken
CALIFORNIA INTERNATIONAL MARATHON
December 3, 2017 – Sacramento, California
Known for its fast finishing times for runners looking to qualify for Boston, this marathon is an excellent choice for beginners because of its extremely flat course that isn’t as boring as some of the others with long stretches of straight road. The atmosphere is also much calmer and less hectic than most urban marathons but it’s just as well-organized and provides the same kind of on-course support for its participants that you get from the larger events.
Photo Credit: Dirk dB
December 10, 2017 – Honolulu, Hawaii
This no-time-limit race is almost entirely by the ocean, making it one of the most relaxing and stress-free atmospheres for a marathon. Temperatures also commonly reach into the low 80s, which is great if you need a break from a cold December. If you arrive the Friday before, you’ll be treated to a one-of-a-kind luau. The average number of race participants is usually near 30,000, so you’ll be in good company.
Photo Credit: Erik
WALT DISNEY WORLD MARATHON
January 7, 2018 – Orlando, Florida
There’s no better way to distract yourself than running 26 miles through Disney World theme parks. Runners head through Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot on a mostly flat course with plenty of surprises along the way. If Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck cheering you on isn’t enough to lift your spirits, the race features lots of live entertainment on route.
Photo Credit: Jeff Moriarty
PHOENIX ROCK AND ROLL MARATHON
January 14, 2018 – Phoenix, Arizona
You won’t find better weather in January than in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. Like other races in this series, there are 27 live music stations (every mile marker and the finish) that include cheerleaders, bands and, of course, plenty of rock and roll to keep you motivated to the finish line. This Phoenix race is known for its organization, scenic desert landscape and awesome finishing medals. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Brooklyn and Chicago are a few of the other locations this marathon series visits.
Photo Credit: Eric Richardson
LOS ANGELES MARATHON
March 18, 2018 – Los Angeles, California
From Dodger Stadium to Hollywood and Beverly Hills, the L.A. Marathon is a great way to take in some of the city’s most iconic spots. You’ll also get some ocean views along the way, as the race finishes near the Santa Monica pier. Beautiful weather, a flat course and a race field comprised of over half first-time marathoners are other reasons this is a good choice for beginners.
Photo Credit: Bill Janikowski
VERMONT CITY MARATHON
May 27, 2018 – Burlington, Vermont
Though there are a few manageable hills, we like this course because the last four miles are all downhill. It’s also one of the few races that’s truly spectator friendly, and if you bring along an entourage for support, they’ll be able to see you during the race four different times without moving a muscle — and up to 10 times if they don’t mind doing a little walking. Add the spectacular views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks and it’s easy to see why this race is one of the best marathons.
Photo Credit: Drew Geraets
June 16, 2018 – Duluth, Minnesota
If you’re looking for a cool-weather marathon in the middle of summer, this one in northern Minnesota has an average high temperature in June of about 70°F. Though it isn’t pancake flat, the gentle up and downs around Lake Superior aren’t too serious. Runners will also be treated to the beautiful scenery along Route 61 all the way to the Canal Park District in downtown Duluth.