Best Marathons for First-Timers

If you dream of running a marathon this year but aren’t quite sure how to choose from the multitude of growing options, here are some of the best races around the world as well as some tips to help you decide. 🙂

The Chicago Marathon – Sunday, October 9 – The perfect race if you’re looking to run in scenic downtown Chicago while getting cheered on by thousands of spectators. With multiple cheer zones and a charity block party at mile 14, there is energy abundant along the course. And with its flat, fast course the race attracts participants from around the globe.



The Flying Pig Marathon – Sunday, May 1 – One of the more unique marathons, Flying Pig runners will experience the high energy of a huge race crowd plus more than 100,00 spectators cheering them on. There’s also a half marathon and a relay. It’s worth it for the great pig themed t-shirt and finisher’s medal alone.





ING New York City Marathon –  Sunday, November 6 – Quickly becoming the most talked about marathon after Boston, this marathon is open to first-timers through a lottery where you pay a nominal fee to apply and if, after three years you haven’t gotten chosen, you automatically are entered. Another way, if you want to bypass the lottery and head straight to go, is to choose a charity and run for a cause. All charity runners are allowed entry. With a scenic run, 130 bands and 2 million spectators it’s easy to see why everyone wants to run the NYC Marathon.


Rock n Roll Marathons – For those of you who want constant distractions to get you through your first marathon, a rock n roll marathon is the perfect choice. With a band performing each mile, cheer sections and a rocking after party celebration, these marathons, which are held all over the country, make for memorable races.


Walt Disney World Marathon – Sunday, January 9 – Nonstop action accompanies the runners of the Walt Disney World Marathon. Fireworks kick off the festivities while Disney characters, DJs, parade floats, cheerleaders and other fun distractions line the course. Run through Cinderella’s Castle and the Magic Kingdom and experience all the wonders Disney has to offer!




Napa Valley Marathon – Sunday, March 6 – Not many races offer wine at their events, but it flows freely at this marathon. Local high-school bands and classic music ensembles serenades runners through the lush fields of Napa’s renown wineries and scenic landscapes. One of the less crowded marathons means calmer seas to navigate as you enjoy the peaceful course. Finishers are treated to massages as they celebrate their victories.



Portland Marathon – Sunday, October 9 – For another scenic venue head north from Napa to the beauty of Portland, Oregon. Like other marathons this has a great vibe and a mostly flat course. Music and cheer squads pump you up as you run through the course. Best part? Announcers say your name as you cross the finish line!



Marine Corps Marathon – Sunday, October 30 – The first time I heard of the Marine Corps Marathon I thought that I would never in a million years participate in something that sounded so daunting! If there’s one race I hear more positive feedback about than the NYC Marathon, it’s this one. Dubbed the “People’s Marathon” it is the perfect atmosphere for first-timers who don’t like the intensity (or the lottery) of the NYC Marathon. And with 30 bands, 100,000 spectators and a mostly flat course, this makes an ideal first marathon. Oh, and a lieutenant drapes a medal over your head when you finish. 🙂




For other ideal first-timer marathons, check out Runner’s World for their article on 1st time Marathons. Have fun and run safely! 😀

    • kwrun4fun
    • April 13th, 2011

    Im not a first time marathoner but I like the list; thanks for posting.

    • Brian Beatty
    • June 20th, 2012

    great to see Chicago as #1!

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