Top 10 Marathons for Walkers

Best Walker-Friendly and Walker-Only Events in the US

According to Runners World Magazine, there are over 1,100 hundred sanction marathons in the United States attracting more than 500,000 participants each year.

While most are primarily designed for runners, many of these welcome walkers and have a generous cut-off time to accommodate athletes of all fitness levels. Walkers-only marathons are less common but are growing in popularity among race walkers, casual enthusiasts, and charitable organizations.

Here is our recommended list of the 10 best walker-friendly marathons in the U.S.:


Portland Marathon

Portland Marathon Crosses St. Johns Bridge - Full Size
Wendy Bumgardner

The Portland Marathon in Oregon welcomes 3,000 walkers and 5,000 runners every fall. It's a great event for first timers because everyone is cheered on with such enthusiasm no matter how long it takes to cross the finish line.

The finish is kept open until the last person comes in. Every participant is greeted at the end with an assortment of goodies including a rose, tree seedling, marathon medal, and a finisher's shirt.

If you want to be part of a big marathon and treated as a winner whenever you finish, Portland is the place.


Walt Disney World Marathon

Walt Disney World Marathon Start
Matt Stroshane/Disney Parks/Getty Images

This annual charitable event, held in January, welcomes walkers and runners from around the world to participate in a one-of-a-kind race through the Magic Kingdom. No matter how old you are or where you are from, you can't help but get caught up in the child-like glee.

Despite its laid-back appeal, the finish time limit of seven hours is strictly enforced. The event organizers typically fill their quota of 13,000 participants months in advance, so be sure to register early if you want to join.


Honolulu Marathon

Honolulu Marathon
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The Honolulu Marathon welcomes over 30,000 participants each December to one of the gorgeous (albeit hot and humid) routes in the U.S. The race starts on Ala Moana Boulevard in downtown Honolulu and snakes its way along the breathtaking Hawaiian coastline to the finish line in Kapiolani Park.

The start time is at 5:00 a.m. with finish line services officially open until 2:00 p.m. However, the organizers allow everyone to finish and have attendants on hand until 4:00 p.m.


Rock 'N' Roll Marathons

Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Starting Line - Full Size
Wendy Bumgardner

The Rock 'n' Roll series of marathons and half marathons are annual crowd pleasers, drawing up to 30,000 competitors for some of their more popular events. The races are held in major cities across around the world and feature live music and great on-course support.

The only caveat is that only half of their marathons are walker-friendly and have a strict time limit of seven hours. Half marathons generally have a friendlier limit of four hours.

The registration fee is quite steep, but the quality of these events is usually more than worth the price.


TCS New York City Marathon

Runners compete at the New York City Marathon.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The TCS New York City Marathon in November attracts well over 30,000 runners and walkers each year. The time limit is eight and a half hours, but walkers must move to the sidewalk if they drop below a 15-minute mile.

The famed course snakes through all five boroughs of the city and crosses five bridges to end in Central Park. The application process is competitive, so start planning early. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


Playtex MoonWalk

London Moonwalk
Getty Images Sport

The Playtex MoonWalk is a series of events conducted at night to raise money for breast cancer charities. Participants can choose either a marathon or half-marathon distance and will often wear decorated bras to show their support for the cause.

The MoonWalk a walking-only event with no running allowed. The London MoonWalk in May attracts over 15,000 walkers, while the Edinburgh MoonWalk is held a month later in June. The organizers have expanded the event to include a New York City MoonWalk in August.

The entry costs are more or less the same as a typical marathon with additional fundraising encouraged but not required.


Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer

AVON 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Attendees of the annual Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer can choose to participate in either a marathon on Day One or a half-marathon on either Day One or Day Two. Walkers must raise at least $1,800 in donations to participate.

The event is held in several cities in the U.S. and is extremely well-supported with snack and water stops, meals, and a tent city for overnight stays. It is as much a celebration as it is a competition.


US FreedomWalk Festival

Marathon Washington DC
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

The U.S. FreedomWalk is an annual walking festival held in October. It starts in Arlington, Virginia and snakes its way through the nature trails of Arlington all the way to Washington, D.C., allowing participants to take in all of the historic sites and landmarks.

Sanctioned by the IVV and IML Walking Associations, the U.S. FreedomWalk Festival includes a half marathon as well as shorter five and 10K walks.


Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk

Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk
Courtesy of the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk

The annual Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk is held in September to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. For this event, running is not allowed as the city streets are not closed off. Participants must instead make their way along sidewalks under the guidance of event organizers and city police.

The event attracts over 8,000 walkers who can choose anything from a three-mile walk to the full 26.2-mile Boston Marathon route.


Austin Statesman Cap 10K

Austin Statesman Cap 10K
Courtesy of the Austin Statesman

The 40-year-old Austin Stateman Cap 10K is held every April in the Texas capital and routes participants over the scenic Congress Street Bridge to the domed Capital Building in downtown Austin.

It is a very lively event that attracts well over 20,000 runners and walkers. The start time is at 8:00 a.m. (with a 7:30 a.m. start for wheechair athletes) and even includes a costume competition to befit the city's much-loved motto, "Keep Austin Weird."

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