Perfect Pairs: Find the Right Marathon for You

Jennifer Purdie
by Jennifer Purdie
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Perfect Pairs: Find the Right Marathon for You

Scheduling your race calendar for the upcoming year can be a daunting task, so we’re helping to narrow down your choices. Find a marathon that pairs perfectly with what you love in a race or a destination with this matchmaking list. Whether you prefer to travel with family, hope to qualify for the Boston Marathon or fancy running with your fur baby, discover the race for you:   

Then try: Australian Outback Marathon
July 28, 2018

Head out for a true walkabout through graded bush roads and bush fire trails on packed, red sand. This significantly out-of-the-way race provides a generous eight-hour cut-off time and exquisite views of the much-photographed Ayers Rock for the explorer at heart.

Then try: Running with the Bears Marathon
Greenville, California
August 18, 2018

All racers run with bear bells and dogs run with bibs labeled “Bear Defender.” (In 2013, a racer came across a nonviolent bear, but you shouldn’t let that deter you.) At aid stations, dogs receive treats and water, and at the finish line, they can jump into a dog ice bath.

Then try: Petra Desert Marathon
Petra, Jordan
September 1, 2018

Run back in time through Jordan where Harrison Ford filmed the “Indiana Jones” movies. Runners should expect challenging hills and blazing temperatures, but a start line at the iconic, Instagram-worthy “The Treasury” makes the ensuing 26.2 miles worth the exertion.  

Then try: Le Marathon du Médoc
Pauillac, France
September 8, 2018

Located in the Bordeaux wine region of southwestern France, this marathon might challenge even the most non-competitive runners. Here, everyone dons costumes according to the year’s theme (2018’s is Amusement Park), drinks wine at the 20+ wine tasting stops and eats oysters and steak at the “aid stations.”

Then try: St. George Marathon
St. George, Utah
October 6, 2018

A favorite among runners looking to earn a place at the covetous Boston Marathon start line, this BM qualifier descends nearly 2,600 feet — and doles out PRs a plenty. One of the fastest fall marathons, runners are treated to scenic views of southwest Utah.

Then try: Marine Corps Marathon
Washington, D.C.
October 28, 2018

Known as “The People’s Marathon,” this race does not offer prize money, choosing to showcase the Marine Corps and our nation’s capital instead. Runners pass national monuments and finish at the Marine Corps War Memorial. After the race, you can take the family to visit memorials, museums and monuments throughout D.C.

Then try: Seattle Marathon
Seattle, Washington
November 25, 2018

Burn off Thanksgiving dinner at the largest combination marathon/half-marathon in the Northwest. After the race, peruse Seattle’s shopping mecca with stores like REI and Seattle’s Best Coffee and one-of-a-kind venues like Pike Place Market and the Waterfront for souvenirs.

Then try: Honolulu Marathon
Honolulu, Hawaii
December 9, 2018

If you can’t muster running 26.2 miles, don’t worry. You can walk. As the only world-class marathon with no time limit, race directors allow everyone to finish. Bonus: You’re in Hawaii. So, take the camera along the course and snap selfies — the clock remains irrelevant.

Then try: Austin Marathon (sponsored by Under Armour)
Austin, Texas
February 17, 2019

Sure, you race through one of the hippest cities in America, but after the marathon, you can hit the food trucks on Fifth Street. In 2018, runners munched on grilled cheese sandwiches, ethnic foods and of course, Texas barbecue.

Then try: Lost Dutchman Marathon
Apache Junction, Arizona
February 17, 2019

Run through the Arizona desert at a time of year when temperatures hover around the mid-60s giving you a reprieve from winter. For camping enthusiasts, you can spend the night before the race in an old-fashioned campsite at Lost Dutchman State Park for a mere $15.

Then try: Big Sur Marathon
Big Sur, California
April 28, 2019

People drive Highway 1 simply for fun — and now you can run it. Runners get treated to breathtaking views of jagged rocks jetting into the Pacific Ocean. At the halfway point, be sure to remove your headphones to hear a tuxedo-wearing pianist play on a grand piano.

Then try: Newport Marathon
Newport, Oregon
June 2019

Runners will feel the romance all around from the lovely locals (dubbed “The Friendliest”) to the sweeping ocean vistas of Oregon’s central coast. Come with your significant other to take unhurried walks along the waterfront and observe the colorful sunsets.

Then try: Uganda Marathon
Rural Uganda, Africa
June 2019

Unlike typical races, runners head to Uganda for more than just a marathon. They spend a week supporting grassroots projects and organizing a sports day for disadvantaged children. After seven days of volunteer work, they celebrate by running marathon, and the children they helped come out to cheer.

Then try: Mayor’s Marathon
Anchorage, Alaska
June 2019

If solar power supplies your happiness, this marathon should pump you up. Taking place on one of the longest days of the year in a city high up in longitude, you can enjoy the “midnight sun.” You might even see a bald eagle pluck a salmon out of the water as you run along the waterfront.

About the Author

Jennifer Purdie
Jennifer Purdie

Jennifer is a Southern California-based freelance writer who covers topics such as health, fitness, lifestyle and travel for both national and regional publications. She runs marathons across the world and is an Ironman finisher. She is also a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. You can follow her on Twitter @jenpurdie.


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