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World's Top 10 Marathons

Marathons from across the world that all runners will want to take on and how to enter

World's Top 10 Marathons

Discover the Top 10 Marathons From Around the World That Define Ultimate Endurance

I can’t speak for everyone, but ever since I hit my 40s and began delving deeper in to the world of running, it’s been playing at the back of my mind to train and complete at least one marathon in my lifetime.  To test my own endurance and feel the rush of crossing that finish line and picking up my medal, it’s so very tempting, but as I contemplate this notion, I’m then moved on to the other big question… well which Marathon?


I’m an Edinburgh lass, so do I go home to the promise of familiarity and nostalgia? But wait, I’m also a huge lover of Italy and Rome holds a very special place in my heart, so could it be there? Then of course there's Berlin, with its reputation for speed and precision, or perhaps Venice, where the route promises a journey through history and romance. The options are dizzying, each marathon offering its own blend of challenge and charm.  


Then I have to also think about how to register, can I just pay and enter or must I navigate the labyrinthine process of a ballot?? It’s exciting, it’s nerve racking, but I have to do it and take on this adventure!


So this is why I’ve pulled together the world’s top 10 marathons, the crème de la crème of marathons shall we say, in the hope that it might ignite the curiosity and passion of fellow runners. From the historic streets of Boston to the bustling boulevards of Tokyo, each marathon promising a truly unforgettable journey.


Boston Marathon, USA (April): Often referred to as the "Holy Grail" of marathons, Boston Marathon stands as the world's oldest annual marathon. With its iconic course and stringent qualifying standards, it's a dream for many runners and very much a “bucket list” event. You have to meet a specific qualifying time based on your age group in another official marathon within 12 months of applying in the September registration to be able to join the 30,000 other athletes taking part. You can get all the entry details from the official site.


New York City Marathon, USA (November): Ah the Big Apple! This legendary race takes runners through all five boroughs of New York City. The roaring crowds and iconic landmarks make it an unforgettable experience. You can sign up to run for a charity on the official marathon website to secure a place in the race. They also have a NYRR 9+1 program to give local runners a chance to get a place in the Marathon. You can always roll the dice and be part of the draw if you apply within the specified time frame, normally the end of February and first 3 weeks in March for that year’s race.   


London Marathon, UK (April): Spanning across the heart of London, this marathon combines history with modernity as runners pass by Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, and the River Thames. The atmosphere is always electric here and you’ll spot a few celebs along the way and let’s not forget the millions of spectators cheering on the participants. To enter, you must take part in the Ballot with places announced around the July period.


Berlin Marathon, Germany (September): Renowned for its flat and fast course, the Berlin Marathon is a favourite among elite runners aiming for record-breaking performances. The iconic Brandenburg Gate serves as a fitting backdrop for the triumphant finish, now that’s got to be an Instagram photo finish doesn’t it? This is a bit of a pricey beast though, participation fee currently stands at €205 for the 2024 race and you need to register for the lottery draw late in September for the next year’s race.


Tokyo Marathon, Japan (March): As one of the six World Marathon Majors, and with a field size of 37,500 runners, the Tokyo Marathon offers a glimpse into the vibrant culture and technological marvels of Japan's capital city. The course winds its way through both modern and traditional neighbourhoods, with modern skyscrapers and traditional temples, providing a truly immersive experience. You have to apply in the August for the draw and meet the eligibility requirements.


Chicago Marathon, USA (October): With its flat and scenic course, the Chicago Marathon is another perfect option for runners aiming for personal bests. The city's skyline, the bustling streets of downtown and the leafy tranquillity of Lincoln Park, makes the course a picturesque journey filled with iconic landmarks. To get a place, you can run for charity or you can apply to be in the draw instead in the hope you might be lucky to secure a place.


Paris Marathon, France (April): This is always going to be a fantastic fusion of sport and art, where the Paris Marathon takes runners on a journey through the City of Light, past instantly recognisable monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre Museum. The picturesque course is a feast for the eyes. You just register in the official site and pay the fee. Vive le marathon!


Great Ocean Road Marathon, Australia (May): I had to put this on, it truly is a runner's paradise stretching along Australia's stunning southern coastline. Runners are immersed in the wild beauty of the landscape – towering cliffs, lush rainforests, and endless ocean vistas. It’s one of those races that just aids self-discovery, pushing your limits against nature's grandeur, probably because it goes that little bit extra with 27.3 miles! You have to enter the ballot to be in with a chance to take part.


Great Wall Marathon, China (May): Taking place along the legendary Great Wall of China, this marathon really isn’t for the faint of heart and is renowned as being one of the most challenging marathons out there. With gorgeous scenery and the crazy 5164 step (you read right) finish, it offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for adventurous runners. To enter you actually have to buy a package, so it’s not just the race you get but a full “experience” with accommodation and excursions too.


San Francisco Marathon, US (July): If you are looking to conquer iconic SF hills, marvel at the Golden Gate Bridge and soak in the electric atmosphere of one of the world's most vibrant cities then this is the race for you.  It’s here in San Francisco that you’ll be pushed to your limits and get the chance to create unforgettable memories as you race through the city’s neighbourhoods and historic landmarks. Sign up via the official website to secure your place.


Each of these marathons will obviously be awesome, but also gives you a chance to go exploring further afield to push yourself out of your comfort zone, which as a marathon runner, you’ll be used to doing.


So lace up whichever fancy pants running shoes you have, we all have that pair don’t we and set your sights on the finish line, and prepare for the journey of a lifetime.


Good luck everyone!

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