The U.S. Marathons Bucket List

Whether it’s your first or your 10th, picking your next marathon takes a good deal of consideration. Although there are hundreds of different marathons offered throughout the U.S., we feel a few really stand out for one reason or another and are strong contenders for your marathon bucket list.

Boston Marathon
This one is pretty much a ‘gimme’, and it’s not actually attainable to all, since it requires a qualifying time to run. However, it’s deep-rooted history in the world of running makes it coveted bragging rights for those fast enough to qualify. Making it to the starting line at Boston – let alone the finish line! – seems to be an automatic ‘badass’ qualifier within running circles. And honestly, who doesn’t want to add that to their resume?

New York City Marathon
Every fall, the New York City marathon travels through all five boroughs and attracts tens of thousands of runners, ranging from beginners, to professionals, to celebrities. The marathon has become so popular that it has followed Boston’s lead and now caps off the entries and has established time cutoffs to qualify for the opportunity to pay the entrance fee and run 26.2 miles. It must be noted, however, that the qualifying times for New York are actually harder than Boston’s times, so perhaps it will eventually surpass Boston as being considered the elite status quo for runners

Walt Disney World – Orlando, FL
If a marathon is going to claim to be “the most magical 26.2 miles on earth,” it’s setting expectations right up there with assigning each runner a personal fairy to help drag your ass along the course, then sprinkle you with pixie dust at the end so you won’t be sore in the morning.  The Walt Disney World Marathon does its best to live up to its claim and bring it’s magical world to life by leading runners through four of it’s theme parks: Epcot, The Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. Even the finisher’s medal, shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head, has a fun twist to it. Clearly, many runners are down for a run through their childhood dreams and the idea of magic existing, as the race sells out every year.

Chicago Marathon
Last October, more than 37,000 people ran the Chicago Marathon, and it’s only going to be more exciting this year. A large part of Chicago’s attraction and thrill is that it is one of five marathons comprising the world marathon majors (the others include London, New York, Boston, and Berlin). It is also the third largest marathon in the world, with 45,000 entrants this year. If you’re motivated by other runners and not claustrophobic, Chicago promises to be a marathon to remember.

Marine Corps Marathon
A more patriotic marathon is harder to find. Fully utilizing it’s location, this October marathon takes participants by and through some of the most well known sights in Washington D.C., including: Arlington Cemetery, the Pentagon, Georgetown, the Kennedy Center, the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, the Lincoln Memorial, the Potomac River, the Jefferson Memorial, the National Mall, the Smithsonian, National Museum of Natural History, the National Art Gallery, the Air and Space Museum, the Holocaust Museum, and the Capitol dome. Phew! If there’s ever been a marathon worth lugging your camera along on, this may be it!

Honolulu – Honolulu, HI
Holding a marathon in a location known as paradise in December is a pretty good way to attract people to it. What better way to pass the time it takes to run a marathon than to spend it staring at the ocean, palm trees, and daydreaming about the very real chances of receiving an authentic mai tai soon after crossing the finish line? Around since 1973 – the beginning of the U.S. running boom – the Honolulu marathon hosts about 24,000 runners from all over the world

Rock N’ Roll – San Diego, CA
The Rock N’ Roll marathon is as close to one giant party as you can get while still running 26.2 miles.  It is the newest marathon on our list, established in 1998, and it’s youthful attitude and presence is clearly welcomed by the running community. What’s more motivating than running from one rock concert to the next? Nearly 50 bands litter the course, providing a living soundtrack to motivate runners by putting smiles on their faces, an extra bounce in their step, and beat to set their pace to.

Nike 26.2 – San Fransisco, CA
This race is for the ladies. Finishers medals are actually Tiffany’s necklaces. Need we say more?

Although there are hundreds of marathons across the U.S., each with unique views and experiences to offer, if you have a chance to check any of the above out, we’re urging you to take it.

By: Audra Rundle