Do you consider yourself a seasoned marathon runner? Or maybe you’re a complete beginner?
Whatever you are, you’ll find a marathon here that should be on your bucket list. From drinking your way along 26.2 miles to one of the most challenging marathons in the world.
You wouldn’t want to miss out would you?
1. Virgin Money London Marathon
Kicking off our list is the world-famous Virgin Money London Marathon . This iconic race began in 1981 as the brainchild of Chris Brasher and John Disley. Now every April sees more than 40,000 runners taking part in the marathon and many more there to support, creating an atmosphere that goes unmatched.
The mostly flat course takes in some of London’s most famous sights, including the Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge and Big Ben, before finishing in front of Buckingham Palace.
The London leg of the World Marathon Majors is also known for charity fundraising. Since 1981 runners have raised over £900 million for charity, with many of them running in eye-catching costumes.
But don’t take our word for it, this is a marathon that everyone should have on their list.
2. Marathon du Médoc
If you are looking to add a slightly less serious marathon experience to your belt, Marathon du Médoc ticks all the boxes. This is a celebration of France’s Médoc region, with runners plodding 26.2 miles through the area’s renowned vineyards.
The festivities start the night before the race at one of the many ‘pasta parties’. This isn’t your standard pasta party affair of carbo-loading and determined preparation. The food plays second fiddle to a party atmosphere, which includes wine and live music.
Moving onto race day, you’ll find the majority of the 10,000 participants running in fancy dress. Along the way there are 23 stops offering up samples of the region’s renowned wines and accompanying foods. With that in mind, you can forget about setting a PB - this is a light-hearted race that’s more about the experience than your finishing time.
3. Boston Marathon
From the most laid back of marathons to one of the most serious. Boston is one of the oldest annual marathons held every year, and just getting to the start line is an achievement in itself.
Demand is so high for places that the organisers have imposed minimum qualifying times for registrations - sub 3:05 for men under 35 and sub 3:35 for women in the same age group.
From mile 17 onwards runners have to face the infamous Newton Hills, culminating in the energy-sapping Heartbreak Hill at mile 20. Reaching the top of Heartbreak Hill is a watershed moment in the career of any marathon runner, so this tough course deserves a spot on your bucket list.
4. BMW BERLIN-MARATHON
The BMW BERLIN-MARATHON boasts an amazing course through Germany’s capital, flawless organisation and some of the top elite runners in the world. But it’s known for one thing above all: speed.
Since 1998 Berlin has played host to seven of the last nine marathon world records. In fact, the last world record not set in Berlin was in 2002. Since then, Berlin has seen the 2:05, 2:04 and, 2:03 barriers broken. If you are looking for somewhere to beat your PB, this race has your name all over it.
Plus, you’ll cross the finish line under the Brandenburg Gate. What better way to achieve your marathon PB?
5. Honolulu Marathon
If you don’t fancy the fastest marathon, why don't you try your hand at the fourth largest marathon in the United States?
This annual marathon is held on the second Sunday in December. Honolulu Marathon takes in some breathtaking sights, including the world famous Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head and Koko Head volcanic craters.
If that wasn’t enough reason to sign up, the course also takes in some of Honolulu’s iconic landmarks, including Aloha Tower, Chinatown, the gilded statue of King Kamehameha, the Sheraton Moana Surfrider, the statue of Duke Kahanamoku and Honolulu Zoo.
And we can’t forget this… you can run through the 26.2 miles of paradise at your leisure. That's right, there is no time limit! The pressure is well and truly off in this race. So, if you are anxious to take part in your first marathon, what better place to start than paradise? It also helps that this course is relatively flat.
6. Athens Classic Marathon
Greek soldier Pheidippides certainly has a lot to answer for in the marathon running community. Legend has it that in 490 B.C. he ran from Marathon to Athens to deliver news of a victory in battle. His extraordinary feat of physical exertion became the basis for the event we all know and love today.
You can retrace his footsteps to where it all began at the Athens Classic Marathon . This is a course littered with legendary tales, finishing in the city that gave birth to the 26.2 mile race. The race starts in Marathon and finishes in Athens’ historic Olympic Stadium.
Thankfully you won’t have to deal with the same sweltering conditions that Pheidippides supposedly faced on his fateful journey. Held in November, the event usually makes for optimal running temperatures.
7. Antarctic Ice Marathon
Standard road races not enough of a challenge for you? This could be the event you’ve been looking for.
The Antarctic Ice Marathon takes place over three days and requires you to battle through snow and ice in -20°C temperatures. Those brave enough to take on the challenge are rewarded with stunning views of endless blankets of ice and towering crystalline glaciers.
The event is organised by Richard Donovan, an Irish ultra-runner who has broken multiple word records.
Competitors regularly describe the event as life-changing, with many making friends for life. The camaraderie of taking on the icy conditions brings people together like few other events can.
A true test of endurance and determination not to be missed.
8. The Great Wall Marathon
Running 26.2 miles is an achievement in anyone’s book. But doing so whilst traversing precisely 5,164 steps long one of the most famous landmarks in the world takes things to a new level.
The Great Wall Marathon covers a tiny fraction of the 13,000 mile long fortification, but it certainly won’t feel like a short distance when you’re running it.
As you’d imagine, this is a sell-out event in high demand. There are only 2,500 places, and runners from more than 50 countries enter every year. So if you want to enjoy this run through history you better act fast.