For many people, running a marathon is an achievement that represents the pinnacle of their physical endurance. Completing the 26.2 miles is the culmination of months’ worth of training and hard work, and something that you can be proud of for the rest of your life.
While for most, the suffering endured to achieve this feat is enough to make them decide to unofficially hang up their running shoes, a select few are well and truly bitten by the bug and immediately begin to train and plan for their next marathon. Deciding which marathon event is not always an easy decision, especially since there are so many great events around the world. If you are currently trying to work out which marathon to set your sights on next, the following list of the six most famous events should help you make up your mind.
1. Boston Marathon
The world’s oldest marathon (the event first took place in 1897), the Boston Marathon takes place on the third Monday of every April. Despite the fact that its net-downhill course means that times ran at the event do not qualify as world records, the marathon attracts some of the biggest names in the sport as well as a huge number of amateur runners. Indeed, demand among amateurs is usually so high that you are required to run a Boston Qualifying to have your application for entry accepted if you are not running for charity.
2. London Marathon
When it comes to prestige, the London Marathon is the daddy. It is the one that all the pros want desperately want to win and is considered to be the marathon with the toughest level of competition. World Record times have been broken many times by the top athletes at the London Marathon, but the field is also open to amateurs.
3. New York City Marathon
The second of three US marathons on this list is New York’s answer to the Boston Marathon. Established in 1970, the New York City Marathon is known to be the marathon with the highest number starters who finish the race in the world. Running through all five boroughs that make up New York City, the New York City marathon differs from the London Marathon in that there are no pacesetters to help speed the pros along.
4. Berlin Marathon
Widely reputed as the fastest marathon in the world, the Berlin Marathon is the race in which the last seven men’s world record times have been recorded. The most recent of these was in 2018 when Kenyan sensation Eliud Kipchoge finished in 2:01:39 to continue a long line of East Africans who have won the race in record time. The Berlin Marathon has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 1974 and is now an unmissable event on the long-distance calendar. If you want to apply to run a US citizen, you will need to take into account changes in the visa approval process that take into effect in January 2021. The new ETIAS EU visa waiver scheme will mirror the ESTA version for EU citizens entering the US. It is a good idea to consult a trustworthy ETIAS visa guide before traveling.
5. Chicago Marathon
The Chicago Marathon is another race which is famous for record-breaking times. The current women’s world record of 2:14:04 was set in the 2019 edition of the race by another Kenyan phenomenon, Brigid Kosegei. Due to the flatness of its course, the race ranks highly among runners who harbor the goal of smashing their personal best. It is, however, notoriously difficult to gain entry, with only around a fifth of applications receiving approval.
6. Tokyo Marathon
The final of the six marathons which are considered to be “majors” is the Tokyo Marathon. Despite only being inaugurated in 2007, the race has quickly earned a reputation for attracting a high-quality field, as well as large numbers of amateur runners. The Tokyo Marathon is today the largest official marathon event in Asia. Applicants are granted entry based on a lottery which offers around a one in 10 chance of success but does not discriminate on the basis of ability.
The six marathons featured above are considered the most prestigious races over 26.2 miles in the world. If you want to enter, you should check the requirements and the application process carefully. Should you gain entry, do not put yourself under too much pressure. If you manage to beat your own personal best, you can count yourself among the winners.