10 Obscure Marathons to Consider Running

Marc Lindsay
by Marc Lindsay
Share it:
10 Obscure Marathons to Consider Running

While New York and Boston might get all the hype, there are plenty of other awesome marathons around the U.S. worthy of your attention. If you’re into smaller crowds, scenic courses and small-town charm, give one of these races a try in 2019.

Island County, Washington
April 14, 2019

Picturesque ocean views, backcountry roads and snow-capped mountains makes this marathon a great getaway for anyone looking for a low-key Northwest marathon. The fairly flat course is also a Boston Marathon Qualifier and features a half-marathon, 10K, 5K and 1K fun run if you’re interested in getting the family involved.

Eureka, California
May 5, 2019

Shady roads between giant redwoods make this one of the most unique marathons in the country. Rockefeller Grove, Bull Creek and Eel River are a few of the landmarks that attract your attention on this out-and-back course that’s also surprisingly fast and serene. Avenue of the Giants is also one of the few races not associated with corporate sponsors and is an independently green organization.

Fargo, North Dakota
May 18, 2019

While Fargo might make you think of snow, this marathon with mild May temps is one of the best small-town marathons in the country. In addition to finishing the flat 26.2-mile loop course lined with more than 40 DJs and bands, participants can opt for extra fun after crossing the finish line and head for the 27th mile pub crawl downtown. Complete this 10-bar challenge and you’ll get a second medal to go along with the first.

Burlington, Vermont
May 26, 2019

Whether you’re an elite runner or a first-time marathoner, this race is for anyone. The course through Burlington and around Lake Champlain is flat, fast and scenic, and while this would normally attract thousands and thousands of participants, organizers cap the race size to keep runners from having to fight for space so they can focus on enjoying the experience. The popular relay events are also extremely competitive and fun for anyone not looking to complete the full marathon distance, though you’ll need to enter a lottery to take part.

Williamson, Kentucky
June 8, 2019

This historic marathon in the hills of eastern Kentucky takes runners through the coal camps of Goody and the homesteads of the Hatfield-McCoy feud on backcountry roads. While this isn’t an easy marathon, the mountain scenery, sections along the Big Sandy River, Tug River and historic village of Matewan make it well worth the effort.

Cordova, Alaska
July 13, 2019

In celebration of the annual salmon migration, this marathon in the fishing village of Cordova is run along the Copper River and is part of the town’s two-day festival. The number of runners will likely be less than 100 due to the location, which can only be accessed by boat or plane. Rest assured any hardships you have to go through to reach the start line will be rewarded with one of the most incredible courses in the world.

Rachel, Nevada
August 17–18, 2019

If you’re into UFO watching, you’ll have plenty of opportunities during this kooky marathon run at midnight along the “Extraterrestrial Highway” bordering Area 51. Aliens aside, this high-desert race has a fun vibe and is perfect for any runner looking for something a little different along with the chance to run in mild 60-degree temperatures during the hotter summer months.

Southampton, New York
September 28, 2019

Whether you’re trying to set a PR or just enjoy a beautiful course, Long Island’s East End has it all. Historic estates, wooded roads, white-sand beaches and magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean give you plenty to take in along your journey to the finish under sunny skies and mild weather. Afterward, enjoy an epic post-race party with DJs, free massages and a fun, relaxing atmosphere.

Baltimore, Maryland
October 19, 2019

Part of the Baltimore Running Festival, this fast course crosses through the historic Federal Hill and charming area of Fells Point before finishing in the beautiful Inner Harbor waterfront. Along with these diverse locations, the race also heads through the zoo and makes a loop around Lake Montebello, with the last 5 miles heading all downhill. The running festival also features four other distances, and the community support and post-race events make this one of the best running weekends on the entire east coast.

Richmond, Virginia
November 16, 2019

Instead of tall city buildings in the streets of New York, Chicago or L.A., the friendly and charming Richmond Marathon course is lined with historic architecture, beautiful fall foliage and scenic views along the river. The Party Zone stops also give this race a fun touch, providing junk food like gummy bears, soda and cookies in the latter part of the race to keep you juiced up and energized to reach the finish down by the riverfront.

About the Author

Marc Lindsay
Marc Lindsay

Marc is a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and is a certified physical therapy assistant. An avid cyclist and runner of over 20 years, Marc contributes to LAVA, Competitor and Phoenix Outdoor magazines. He is the former cycling editor for Active.com.


Never Miss a Post!

Turn on MapMyRun desktop notifications and stay up to date on the latest running advice.


Click the 'Allow' Button Above


You're all set.

You’re taking control of your fitness and wellness journey, so take control of your data, too. Learn more about your rights and options. Or click here to opt-out of certain cookies.