Top 10 Marathons
1. London Marathon
The Flora London Marathon is a marathon for all types of runners. For first time marathoners the party atmosphere and crowd are exciting and the huge field is something to enjoy also. The elite runners enjoy the course speed and the organization of the entire race. The inaugural event in 1981 was inspired by the New York City Marathon, however its ongoing success has made it the course of all courses which others are now judged.
The route is a point-to-point route that starts in Blackheath and Greenwich Park in South-East London and finishes beside St James’s Park on the Mall. Throughout the course, you will experience many of the city’s famous historic sights, the route will twists, turns and is narrow in places there are no notable hills. The best thing about this marathon is the last three miles along the Embankment; pass the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. The worst parts are Narrow streets around the Isle of Dogs and the dour loop of Docklands. When you reach the Tower of London be careful of the cobblestone path. The average total of runners is about 30,000 and it is held in April.
Web Site: www.london-marathon.co.uk
2. Berlin Marathon
Berlin is known for its marathon credentials, it has a record-breaking course with a fast and efficient organisation. Runners enjoy the crowds who get every one moving with their enthusiasm and cheering. Not to mention the course that leads you past historical buildings, through the east side with drab buildings all the way to the west with more modern, hi-tech architecture of the local shops and stores. Berlin may be known for their recent world record however, they still keep the reputation of being a genuine runner’s race.
The course is almost completely flat besides for two small inclines near mile markers 17 and 21. During the first two miles along Charlottenburger Tor and the last stretch along Kurfurstendamm, the path is extremely straight and wide. Apart from two gentle inclines near 17 and 21 miles, the course. The biggest draw to this course is the speed however if you can try to take in some of the great scenery along the way. The best part of the course is passing through the Brandenburg Gate, marking the entry into former East Berlin. However, the downer is few crowds in the eastern section of the city. Through the course watch for in-line skaters. The Berlin Marathon brings close to 20,000 athletes in the month of September.
Web Site: www.berlin-marathon.com
3. New York City Marathon
New York City’s Marathon seems to be the favourite among many runners it attracts runners from more countries then any other marathon. Many come for the atmosphere of the city, the crowds and even the runners. If you are to enter in only one marathon let it be the one in “The Big Apple” is one that every marathon should have the joy and excitement of running in. The course starts at the huge expanse of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge on Staten Island; it offers a cultural tour through New York's ethnic diversity as it makes its way through the five boroughs on the way to the finish in Central Park.
A big reward New York is known for is the six-deep crowd on First Avenue as you enter Manhattan for the first time. However, this also results in the three-hour wait at the holding complex before the 11am start. Also towards the end in Central Park, be careful of the rolling hills. This marathon draws close to 30,000 runners in November.
Web Site: www.nycmarathon.org
4. Chicago Marathon
Chicago Marathon has now become the second largest marathon next to New York City’s, although Chicago does not have the crowds or the historical scenery. Chicago’s track is well known for its extremely fast course, excellent management, and concern for the average runner, which sometimes you do not see at other big races. Chicago does not draw nearly as much internal athletes as other marathons however despite that fact within the past five years the number of entries has more then doubled.
Chicago has a one-loop course that is flat, wide and fast. It starts and finishes in Grant Park on the shores of Lake Michigan, and highlights many of Chicago's attractions from the city-centre skyscrapers to the diverse ethnic neighbourhoods that most tourists never see. The best part is the start of the race is held on Columbus Avenue that is a long straight ten-lane highway. You will run into indifferent support from the crowds through out the entire course. There is a post-race part at the Navy Pier so watch out! This marathon attracts close to 30,000 runners in the month of October.
Web Site: chicagomarathon.com
5. Boston Marathon
Boston is the world’s oldest marathon; it has the best supportive crowd, a quick point-to-point course, and a top class elite field. However, this race has high standards for qualify, do not let this discourage you, simply going trough the registration process is an experience all in itself. If you do have the talent and the will this is most highly recommended to run.
The race is run along a point-to-point course, which starts in Hopkinton to the west of Boston and passes through seven small towns before finishing in central Boston. It drops over 400ft overall, mostly in the early miles, although it does climb noticeably as the course traverses Newton Hills between 17 and 22 miles before a fast 200ft drop over the last few miles. The girls of Wellesley College near the halfway point will get you motivated for the last half. There is a long walk from the finish near Copley Square to the baggage buses. Watch out for all the junk food served up at Hopkinton Fair in the hours waiting for the midday start. This marathon draws 10,000 runners on average in the month of April.
Web Site: www.bostonmarathon.org
6. Stockholm Marathon
This is the most unusual marathon it starts at 2pm on a Saturday in early June but attracts 12,000 athletes. The weather is usually hot and balmy, and the crowds are loud. Compared to London or New York this is a small race, but it does have the cheering enthusiastic crowds, and the route takes you through a two-lap city centre course along the shores of the Baltic. The route has two almost-identical loops, starting outside the 1912 Olympic Stadium and finishing on the track inside.
There are large, flat sections of the course but enough undulations, particularly on the loop around Djurgarden and the various bridges, to break your rhythm. The highlight of this race is the finish line is inside the 1912 Olympic Stadium. However when you pass the kilometre mark on your first lap you will not see another one until you reach 21km. also, be careful of crossing Vesterbron at 35km. The bridge is only a
7. Rotterdam Marathon
Definitely not on everyone’s European vacation itinerary, however every spring runners are drawn here because of the flat course and knowledgeable organizers. Although they have a limited budget, the city supports the racers and practically shut the town down so everyone can participate on cheering the runners on. Rotterdam was on of the first marathons to use chip timing, and despite having the challenges of a low budget, they are proving that you can have a great marathon without the big city.
The Netherlands is a country of no hills, so it is no surprise that Rotterdam offers one of the flattest courses. Other than the Erasmus Bridge at 2km and two wooden sections after 5km and 30km, the loop course is largely unremarkable and unmemorable. You will enjoy the fantastic crowd support along the waterfront. The downside is the out-and-back section of the course at 29km, where you pass runners going in the opposite direction to the finish. Also, beware of the snack stands along the route. Rotterdam attracts only about 10,000 marathoners in April.
Web Site: www.fortismarathonrotterdam.nl
8. Paris Marathon
Has had a problem of attracting runners and spectators to their marathon in the springtime. Mainly known for their organizations indifferent support and incompetence. They have been trying all they can to get rid of their bad reputation and improve. Now these days’ runners flock to race in Paris they have improved the organization and have a better budget to draw the crowds and over 20,000 runners. Most European marathons promise a sightseeing tour on foot and then route you through large stretches of industrial wasteland.
Paris delivers, squeezing just about everything the city has to offer into this 42km loop of the city. It is not a fast course but there is plenty to see especially in the month of April. Beware of the downhill slope at the starting line, and to top that great news its all cobblestone. Downside to this marathon is you are required to provide a doctors note stating you are fit to run.
Web Site: www.parismarathon.com
9. Honolulu Marathon
In early December many people deal with cold, wet weather, so what better way to avoid the cold and register for the marathon in Honolulu, Enter the marathon along with an average of 30,000 other athletes. The atmosphere is primarily made up of the Japanese, from the runners to spectators and many of the sponsors. However, the race does start at 5am in the morning, which is a little early for many spectators so you will not have the encouragement early in the race. However the scenery make up for the lack of crowd that early.
Through out the later part of the day it will get extremely hot and humid so dress properly.
The course starts in Ala Moana Beach Park, and finishes at Kapolei Park. Along the way, it takes in Honolulu’s notable sights, including Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head and Koko Head Crater. There are two modest climbs at seven and 23 miles, but most of the course is flat. The Japanese cheering sections in the staging area before the start will keep you motivated throughout the race.
Web Site: www.honolulumarathon.org
10. Amsterdam Marathon
Has been around since the 1970’s however, compared to those marathons of New York and Chicago it is very small an average of 2,200 runners each October. It is a fast course with fewer than 2,000 runners it is known for its intimate feeling. One down side to the Amsterdam Marathon is the locals have yet to embrace the running lifestyle not only as runners but as spectators also.
This is the Netherlands, so it is flat and therefore fast. The only bump you will see is when the course crosses one of the many canals. It is a two-loop course, starting and finishing in the 1928 Olympic Stadium. The first loop is 7km and the second is 35km and follows part of the 1928 Olympic course. The route takes you through the old city-centre and the famous Vondelpark, but large sections are run in the residential suburbs. Keep an eye out for cyclists; they are a big part of this city.
Web Site: www.amsterdammarathon.nl
* Top 10 marathons have been chosen by Runners World magazine