The World’s Most Popular Marathons

The World’s Most Popular Marathons


The World’s Most Popular Marathons


What makes a marathon worth running? For starters, a great course with scenic views certainly adds value to an event. And when that course is lined with hordes of enthusiastic fans cheering you on, well that’s definitely a big plus, too. researched the world’s most popular marathons, creating a full list of must-do events for your next challenge.

Amsterdam Marathon, The Netherlands


You may think that people in this beautiful city are all about cycling, but they also take running seriously. The road race has a Gold Label from the IAAF. During the event, there’s also a half marathon race and an 8 km race in the program. The marathon is held every October. More than 12,000 signed up last year to run, and 16,500 places are open this year.

Athens Marathon, Greece


The Athens Classic Marathon, the greatest running event in all of Greece, is an annual marathon road race organized every November. About 43,000 people signed up in 2015. The route is somewhat strenuous as the elevation gain is 288 feet. The first 4 kilometers go downhill; it becomes flat from the 6th to the 10thkm; and from the 11th to the 17thkm the course goes uphill at certain parts. The most difficult part is also the last— steep ascent is followed by a steep descent.

Berlin Marathon, Germany


Started in 1976, and held every year in September, the Berlin Marathon has become so popular that the event now spans over two days. The first day features a 500 meter and a 1,000 meter Bambini Run, a mini marathon and an inline-skating marathon, and the second day is when the main marathon takes place. The festivities are a sight to see; exciting enough to easily land Berlin on any runner's marathon bucket list.

Boston Marathon, Massachusetts


The race is a pillar of athletic achievement and perseverance. The course that starts in Hopkinton and ends in the heart of Boston is a scenic challenge well worth the tough entry process and qualifying races. The Boston Marathon, which is actually hosted by several cities in greater Boston, is held every April. Nearly 27,000 people ran it last year.

Chicago Marathon, Illinois


The course is fast and flat, which attracts the pursuit of personal records and world record performances, and the race is very well organized. A noisy crowd of cheering fans flock at the start, throughout the course and near the end with a fun post-race scene. The race, which is one of the six World Marathon Majors, is held every October. More than 40,000 people signed up to run the marathon in 2016.

Gold Coast Marathon, Australia


This year’s Gold Coast Marathon is scheduled for July 2. It’s not the biggest running event in the country, with just over 5,000 participants, but it certainly is Australia’s most spectacular beach run. The events consist of 5 km, 10 km and a half marathon of 21 km, plus a one km run for kids ages 13 and under. Many of the runners go to the region on vacation, as it is one of the country’s top holiday destinations.

Honk Kong Marathon

Flickr/Drew Bates/CC BY 4.0

The annual marathon race, which started in 1997, is held in January or February every year. Qualifying is a process. Applicants are required to provide their Finishing Time record in the past three years, which is one of the criteria for the organizer to allocate the race and start time for participants. There are also wheelchair races, a 10 km marathon and a half marathon scheduled.

Honolulu Marathon, Hawaii


Despite a climate that isn’t always ideal for running, marathoners continue to flock to Hawaii for a unique race experience in Honolulu. In 2013 this race was the fourth largest in the U.S. and the eleventh largest in the world, according to Running USA. The scenery and the route cannot be beat. The marathon is held every December and about 30,000 people sign up.

London Marathon, UK


A flat course, enthusiastic spectators and “superb” race organization make this marathon a favorite among seasoned runners. Though it’s tough to get a spot on the starting line of this major race, it’s one of the best in the world and the scenic finish gives runners a one-of-a-kind view of the city. About 23,000 people sign up to run the marathon every year in April.

Los Angeles Marathon, California

betto rodrigues/

The LA Marathon has increasingly become one of the largest marathons in the country over the years. Since introducing the famous course, “Stadium to Sea,” participants flock to get their chance to run past the major landmarks in the city. Though it can get quite hot, with the chance of rain at just 19 percent, the crowd support and aid stations push everyone forward. The race is held in March.

Mumbai Marathon, India


The annual international marathon, which was established in 2004, is organized on the third Sunday of January every year. About 40,000 people ran the fairly easy route that goes just about 65 feet in elevation. It is the largest marathon in Asia and the largest mass participation sporting event on the continent. The event is also the richest race in India with a prize pool of $350,000.

NAHA Marathon, Japan

The NAHA Marathon, held every December, is one of the major sports events of Japan. This “Festival of Sun, Ocean and Joggers,” as it’s nicknamed, started in 1985 as a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the sister city bond between Naha and Honolulu. The maximum number of runners allowed is 30,000.

New York City Marathon, New York

Roman Tiraspolsky/

Runners like the course and the tremendous support they get from cheerful fans. More than 50,000 people participate each year in the iconic race, making it the largest marathon in the world.  It’s held every November. For many people this is the only way to see all five boroughs of the city that never sleeps.

Ottawa Race Weekend, Canada

Martin Good/

This major weekend of celebration of athletic achievement, of health and fitness is organized at the end of May every year. There are many parties, live entertainment shows and runs scheduled. Around 47,000 people take part in the festivities.

Paris Marathon, France


Known for its gorgeous route through the city of love, this marathon is one of the most popular races in Europe. It offers unique food and drink stations that include beer, wine, cider, and oysters. Runners need to present a doctor’s note to compete. But the race, held every year in April, gives participants the opportunity to run through the best areas of the city including past the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Bastille, and the Arc de Triomphe.

City of Surf, Perth, Australia

The event draws 40,000 people every year. It is scheduled for August 27 and registration opens in June. The race has a festival atmosphere at both the start in Perth City and even more so at the finish at City Beach overlooking the glittering the Indian Ocean. Other running events include 21K, 12K, 4K, and 4K Wheelchair.

Philadelphia Marathon, Pennsylvania


The GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon has a particularly scenic course, which leads runners past historical markers like Benjamin Franklin’s place of burial, the Liberty Bell and the National Constitution Center. Runners will also pass the beautiful waterfronts of both the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, and it’s even easier to appreciate the natural beauty when you realize the marathon is an environmentally-friendly event, which is held every November and attracts about 30,000 runners.

Rotterdam Marathon, The Netherlands


The NN Marathon Rotterdam takes place every year in April. The world’s top athletes as well as thousands of runners from home and abroad get to experience what it’s like to finish on the notorious Coolsingel. The marathon weekend combines top sporting action with a festival feel. No other marathon in the country can match the Rotterdam atmosphere, with more than 950,000 enthusiastic spectators and 13,000 runners.

Sydney Running Festival, Australia


The course of the Blackmores Sydney Marathon is said to be “flatter, faster and even more beautiful.”  This certainly is one of the world’s most scenic marathon routes, taking in some of Sydney's most spectacular and historic landmarks including the Harbor Bridge and Opera House. The event is held every September and attracts about 7,000 runners every year.

Tokyo Marathon, Japan

J. Henning Buchholz/

The Tokyo Marathon, held every February, is the fifth largest in the world. The 2013 race logged 34,832 finishers, according to Running USA, and about the same number every year. It happens to be one of the highest rated races, too. “This is a great marathon, the volunteers were endearing, especially in their genuine delight for all runners post the finish line,” one review read.

Vienna City Marathon, Austria


The Vienna City Marathon, held every April and attracting more than 32,000 runners, takes them through the city’s impressive modern and historic sights—skyscrapers of the UNO complex, the 864-meter long Imperial Bridge (Reichsbrücke) over the River Danube, past the Riesenrad or giant Ferris Wheel, and past the famous Opera House, through Vienna's River Valley. There are also half marathon, relay marathon, 10K, as well as smaller running events scheduled.

Marine Corps Marathon, Washington, D.C.

Rena Schild/

The Marine Corps Marathon is the third largest in the U.S. and has become known as “The People’s Marathon.” It attracts about 25,000 runners from all over the world and is open to everyone ages 14 and up. It’s clear from that the people really do love it. One reviewer states, “It is what I call the total experience you need to do at least once in your lifetime.”