As Jeff Galloway, a 1972 Olympian and popular marathon coach so eloquently put it, “The half-marathon gives you almost all of the satisfaction and achievement of the marathon and far less than half of the aches and pains and fatigue.”
It’s the chance to complete an incredibly adrenalizing race, without having to tolerate many of the sacrifices involved with dedicating yourself to a full 26.2 miles.
According to Running USA and the organization’s annual race reports, the half marathon has consistently been the fastest growing standard race distance in the U.S. since 2006.
Between 2006 and 2012, “the number of 13.1 mile finishers grew a noteworthy 10 percent or more each year,” their 2014 report notes.
Given the growing popularity of this energizing yet still challenging race distance, we decided it was time to figure out which can be named the best of the best.
And since there are so many to choose from (close to 5,000 according to the worldwide half marathon race calendar curated by ahotu Marathons) we asked for some help from you, the reader.
We wanted to hear from the runners of the world who have experienced these races first hand, so we asked you to vote for your favorite half marathon races.
Now the polls have been closed and the results are in.
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.
Paris Half Marathon (Semi-Marathon de Paris), France
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.
BMO Vancouver Half Marathon, Canada
This 13.1-mile race landed a spot on our list thanks to the breathtaking natural scenery that lines much of the 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.”
Don't see your favorite race on the list? Let us know and we'll consider it for next year's round-up!