Bucket List Marathons

With so many marathons to choose from, it's tough to decide where to run 26.2 miles. The following slides include some of the world's biggest and best marathons and they can be found on many runners' bucket lists. Which ones have you already checked off? And what's next on your list?


Tokyo Marathon

tokyo marathon
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When: Beginning of February
Where: Tokyo, Japan
Why run it: The Tokyo Marathon is the largest marathon race in all of Asia, and is extremely popular with Japanese runners, as well as marathoners around the world. The world-class race has about 30,000 spots, for which almost 300,000 people apply, with final selections based on a lottery. This well-organized marathon has plenty of support and spectators along the way, as you take a cultural and scenic tour of Tokyo's past, present, and future.


Paris Marathon

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When: Beginning of April
Where: Paris, France
Why run it: One of the most beautiful marathon courses in a major city, the Paris marathon is a flat and fast course. You'll get a scenic tour of some of Paris' most famous sites while experiencing great crowd support.


Boston Marathon

Runners in Boston Marathon
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When: Mid April
Where: Boston, Mass.
Why run it: Many runners have the world's oldest annual marathon on their bucket list because just gaining entry to Boston represents a significant accomplishment. But even if you don't meet the race's tough qualifying times, you could always participate through one of the race's charity partners. Getting to run Boston is such a thrill that most runners don't mind the series of hills (including the infamous Heartbreak Hill) towards the end of the course.


London Marathon

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When: Mid April
Where: London, England
Why run it: One of the five world marathon majors, the London Marathon is high on many runners' lists because of its scenic course, unbelievable crowd support, and fun atmosphere. Gaining entry to the race can be difficult, but the race does offer a lot of charity spots for those who want to fundraise in exchange for an entry.


Big Sur International Marathon


When: End of April
Where: Monterey, California
Why run it: Who wouldn't want to run the most scenic marathon in the U.S.? Participants in the Big Sur International Marathon get to run through the redwoods and experience breath-taking vistas of the Pacific Ocean, making running the very hilly course totally worth it. Racers who have done it report that the volunteers and race support are phenomenal. You'll even be treated to a classical pianist playing along the course. 

Not ready for a full marathon? There's always the Big Sur half marathon, which has similar spectacular views.


Berlin Marathon


When: End of September
Where: Berlin, Germany
Why run it: Another one of the world majors, the Berlin Marathon is a flat, fast course and a very scenic marathon. The world record has been broken here in the past, so the elite race is also very competitive and exciting. Knowing that you're running in the footsteps of the world's best marathoners only adds to the marathon's appeal. And the great crowd support and party atmosphere along the way may help push you to your own personal best.


Chicago Marathon

Chicago Marathon Finisher
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When: Early October
Where: Chicago, Illinois
Why run it: The marathon world record has been broken numerous times in Chicago, so it's a very fast course and a favorite among runners trying to run a PR. It's also known for tremendous crowd support, which also helps boost runners' times. 

The course starts and finishes in Grant Park, on the shore of Lake Michigan in downtown Chicago. Along the way, you'll be treated to many of the city's highlights, including: the Willis Tower, the Chicago Board of Trade, Lincoln Park Zoo, United Center, Chinatown Gate, and many of Chicago's diverse neighborhoods. And you'll have lots of supportive fans cheering and blasting music throughout the Windy City.

Also see: How to Get Into the Chicago Marathon


New York City Marathon

Runners in the NYC Marathon
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When: Early November
Where: New York, NY
Why run it: Another of the marathon majors, New York City is the world's largest marathon-- both in terms of participants and spectators. Runners tour the city's five boroughs and experience New York's diverse and vibrant neighborhoods. With more than 2.5 million spectators cheering on runners through the streets of New York, it's truly a race like no other. Gaining entry by lottery gets tougher every year, but the race does have some charity team spots.

Like Big Sur, if you can't do the full, the NYC half marathon (held in March) is a pretty cool alternative.

Also see: How to Get Into the New York City Marathon


Athens Classic Marathon

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When: Mid November
Where: Athens, Greece
Why run it: Running the original, historic marathon course can't be beat, but throw in the inspiring finish at the 1896 Olympic stadium and the Athens marathon is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
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