In compiling this list of the world’s best marathons, first and foremost we considered votes from our reader survey. We then created a scoring system that also consulted data from lists of the world’s biggest half marathons, as well as 2014 survey results from the 100 Half Marathons Club. Of course, we also considered important factors like course scenery, crowd support, race organization and finisher swag. In the end, our results revealed the following road races as the best half marathons in the world.
A handful of readers chimed in to vote for this well-loved race, which boasts a relatively flat route and undoubtedly stunning scenery. The race continues to grow in popularity, attracting as many as 40,000 runners from around the world, including elites aiming to deliver record-breaking performances.
This 13.1-mile race landed a spot on our list much in part thanks to the breathtaking natural scenery that lines much of its course. “It has a stunning start down famous Cambie street with a view of the cityscape, ocean, snowcapped mountains and cherry blossoms,” one survey respondent wrote. “It also runs through numerous historic and trendy neighborhoods and the award-winning Stanley Park. Finally, it takes runners on the expansive, winding seawall that has breathtaking views from every angle.”
Put simply, there’s just something about running through the streets of New York City that can’t quite compare to any other atmosphere in the world. The electric energy alone is enough to keep you on pace, even for an entire 13.1 miles. “The atmosphere and course are amazing,” one survey respondent said. “[There’s] nothing like running through Times Square,” another added.
Runners who particularly enjoy beach-y vibes and ocean views should immediately add the Newcastle Half Marathon to their list of must-run races. The entire course runs right along the water, beginning on Wharf road along Newcastle Harbour’s Hunter River and eventually leading to the Shortland Esplanade which runs adjacent to the waters of the Tasman Sea. “The whole course is by the sea,” a reader shared on social media. “And it's well organized with a good size field.”
Runners continue to rave about this half marathon, which is the flagship event of the entire Wine Country Half Marathon Series. The breathtaking landscapes of California’s Napa and Sonoma Valleys certainly help to make this race stand out among the rest, but it’s the entire experience that has participants saying things like, “It’s by far the most fun my friends and I have ever had at any race we’ve travelled to.” Race registration includes a wine glass and wine tasting and an epic post-race celebration, which includes more wine (of course), as well as beer from local breweries and live music.
There’s no doubt about it, runners absolutely love the Hamptons Half Marathon, at least according to our reader survey. Aside from its unbelievably scenic course, perhaps the most incredible thing about this race is the size of its staff. The entire effort was created and is led by two determined women: Diane Weinberger and Amanda Moszkowski. Weinberger said their goal each year is to create a race that they would want to run. “From friendly, personal email support to quality ‘schwag’ to an excellent race day vibe,” she said. It seems their effort has not gone unnoticed, as one survey respondent described the race saying, “Beautiful course, awesome post-race celebration and the two race directors are so personable and friendly—they make each runner feel welcome, comfortable and excited.”
This half marathon was crafted to highlight all the best parts of Whistler, a picturesque town situated among the Coast Mountains in Canada’s British Columbia. Immense glacier-capped mountains serve as the main setting for this rugged race, which one survey respondent said was “a well-organized run , a beautiful trail and road race with the right amount of hills.”
No matter how challenging (and this race is considered among the most difficult in the world), there’s still no question as to whether this remarkable race deserves a place on your running bucket list. Last year, the event, which includes a full and half marathon, as well as a 8.5km fun run, sold out to 2,500 runners from more than 60 countries. If you’re totally
insane determined the full marathon might be more your jam, but we think 13.1 miles on this brutal course is more than enough to earn yourself a medal.
In 2014 57,000 runners stormed the streets of Newcastle upon Tyne to participate in this historic race that leads through the city’s center, over the iconic Tyne Bridge and then through Gateshead and South Tyneside before heading towards the finish in South Shields. According to the race website, “At the top of Prince Edward Road the view of the sea is one of the most welcoming sights along the whole course.” On social media, one reader said that the Great North Run’s atmosphere is “unbeatable.” “[The] last mile and a half is downhill then along the seafront and the route is lined with supporters from start to finish. Needless to say I can't wait to go again.”
One survey respondent mentioned their appreciation for the convenience factor of this race, which is held on a Saturday. And we don’t blame them, because who wouldn’t want an extra day to recover before Monday comes around? But of course that’s not the only thing that makes this race stand out among the pack. The course boasts a pleasantly scenic route beginning in front of Connecticut’s state capitol building and then leading runners through a tour of some of the area’s most attractive neighborhoods. Plus, the Hartford Half Marathon was voted as one of the top half marathons in the country by the 100 Half Marathons Club