33 Best Marathons in the U.S. for 2021

If you’re already into running marathons, or just thinking about running one in the United States, then you’re in for a real treat. The U.S. has an abundance of marathons for all different levels… in every state.

Marathons are a big deal. So big of a deal, in fact, that many people attend them as spectators to offer support to the runners. Marathons are a fun and exciting event, and finishing a marathon, no matter how long it takes, can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever experience.

Running a marathon can be a major accomplishment in life.

It can be very exhilarating and help you to achieve a very natural, satisfying high. Runners also find participating in marathons appealing because of the challenge involved, which increases ten-fold if a marathon is won.

Another appealing aspect of running marathons is the fact that you get to see places you may have otherwise never visited. Not only do you get to take in the sights of some beautiful and unique areas, but many of today’s marathons have entertaining themes, such as:

  • Halloween and Haunted
  • Various Colors
  • Zombies
  • Empire State Building
  • Country Music 

Marathons started out many centuries ago, but were often related to wars in the beginning.

Today, marathons have evolved significantly over the years… and now they’re fun, competitive and athletic events that many people look forward to. Many runners look for marathons around the United States, and even around the world, as it enables them to travel and see new places while simultaneously participating in the long race.

Before signing up for any marathon, there are several things that you need to do first.

Ensuring that you carefully assess your skills is important. Running a marathon is hard work and requires you to be in excellent physical condition. Be sure you don’t have any unresolved pain, because the intense training that’s necessary to prepare for a marathon will only increase your pain.

If you’re experiencing chronic pain, it doesn’t mean you can’t run in a marathon… but you do need to see a doctor in order to treat the pain beforehand. You don’t want to injure yourself further and be forced to withdraw.

Another thing that you should do is ensure that you have the time. Training and, subsequently running, a marathon can be time-consuming. In order to be properly prepared, you will need approximately 6-9 hours of training each week.

Then, of course, there’s the day of the actual marathon. If it requires you must travel for it, you should take that time into consideration as well.

If you discover that you can find the time to properly train and participate, then great! Go for it!

Conversely, if you can’t, it doesn’t mean that you can’t ever run a marathon… but just that you’ll have to wait for a better time in your life.

Best Marathons in the US for Beginners

Here is a list of the best marathons in the US for beginners:

1. Boston Marathon

Location and Date: Boston, MA, October 11, 2021

The Boston Marathon is one of the most recognized and esteemed marathons to participate in.  

2. California International Marathon

Location and Date: Sacramento, CA, December 5, 2021

This is a fast and popular course that provides the benefits of running downhill, which is easier for beginners.

3. Dallas White Rock Marathon

Location and Date: Dallas, TX, December 12, 2021

A great marathon for runners who want to race in a marathon while simultaneously touring the city.

4. Detroit Free Press Marathon

Location and Date: Detroit, MI, October 17, 2021

Tour “The Motor City” as well as Canada while participating in this exciting marathon.

5. Philadelphia Marathon

Location and Date: Philadelphia, PA , November 21, 2021

Take a historic tour of some of the area’s best monuments while running in this marathon. 

6. Niagara Falls International Marathon

Location and Date: Niagara Falls, Canada, October 24, 2021

You get to enjoy the breathtaking waterfalls in Niagara Falls, NY as well as Niagara, Canada, while running this popular marathon.

7. New York City Marathon

Location and Date: New York, NY, November 7, 2021

You will love the massive amount of spectator support that you will receive at this marathon, which will take you on an extensive tour of the city, ending in renowned Central Park. 

8. Marine Corps Marathon

Location and Date: Washington, D.C., October 31, 2021

This patriotic marathon, often referred to as the “People’s Marathon,” enables runners to enjoy a comprehensive tour of the nation’s capital. 

9. Honolulu Marathon

Location and Date: Honolulu, Hawaii, December 12, 2021

This marathon is perfect for those looking to escape the cold, snowy weather and running in beauty and warmth. This is the most low-key marathon, as there is no limit, making it ideal for both runners and walkers. 

10. Mountains to Beach Marathon

Location and Date: Ojai, CA, May 2022

This marathon is perfect for novice marathoners, as the course is downhill instead of uphill. Runners must take heed to the heat, however, because even though the race begins at 6:30 in the morning, things heat up pretty fast.

11. Miami Marathon

Location and Date: Miami, FL, February 2022

Beginner-level runners will love this exciting marathon, because not only is the weather pleasant in February, but the views of the area’s gorgeous beaches are amazing. The Miami Marathon offers a full weekend of events, so the entire weekend is sure to be a blast.

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The U.S. has an abundance of marathons for all different level in every state.

Best Intermediate Level Marathons in the US

If you’re not new to marathons and you’re looking for a bit more of a challenge, here is a list of some of the best marathons for those at the intermediate level.

12. Indiana Monumental Marathon

Location and Date: Indianapolis, IN, November 6, 2021

This marathon is one of the most popular in the country due to the beauty of the fall colors that runners (and spectators) get to enjoy throughout the city.

13. Williams Route 66 Marathon

Location and Date: Tulsa, OK, November 2021

This marathon is held the week before Thanksgiving and is jokingly referred to as the “Turkey trot.”

14. Run Crazy Horse Half Marathon

Location and Date: Hill City, SD, October 2021

This marathon includes a combination of uphill and flat terrain and is perfect for those intermediate-level runners. 

15. St. George Marathon

Location and Date: St. George, UT, October 2021

Runners refer to this marathon as one of the most popular due to the natural beauty and colors of the leaves during the month of October. While it’s likely too much of a challenge for beginners, this course is perfect for some intermediate and experienced runners. 

16. Freedom’s Run Marathon

Location and Date: Sherperdstown, WV, October 2021

Despite the fact that West Virginia has the second highest rate of obesity, this marathon is quite popular. The track is a combination of flatness and downhill, making it perfect for advanced beginners and intermediate-level runners. 

17. The Maui Paradise Marathon

Location and Date: Maui, HI; Anytime

This marathon is unique, as it enables runners to schedule their own date and course. Runners love this beautiful course in popular Maui. Runners must also fund their own meals and beverages, as this isn’t your typical marathon.

18. Appalachian Series Marathon

Location and Date: Seneca, SC, October 2021

Runners love the great food after finishing this scenic run. 

19. Grand Rapids Marathon

Location and Date: Grand Rapids, MI, October 2021

Enjoy the beautiful colors of the fall leaves as you participate in this annual marathon. You can never predict the weather in October in Michigan, so be sure to be prepared for cold or unseasonably warm weather.

20. Trail Marathon

Location and Date: Pinckney, MI, October 2021

You get to choose between running a half marathon, a marathon, or an ultramarathon in this lovely area in rural Michigan. 

21. Rock-n-Roll Seattle Marathon

Location and Date: Seattle, WA, June 2022

Mid-level runners who love rock-n-roll music will love this marathon. Not only are there course challenges appropriate for this running level, but runners get to enjoy live rock-n-roll music throughout their run, as well as a live concert once it’s over. Talk about motivation!

22. Twin Cities Women Run the Cities Marathon

Location and Date: St. Paul, MN, May 2022

This marathon is for female runners who want to celebrate feeling empowered. There are intermediate-level tracks, including other courses for beginners, and even some for experts. Women can choose the length of the marathon they wish to run, depending on their own personal preferences and skill level.

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Running a marathon can be a major accomplishment in life.

Best Marathons in the US for Experts

If you consider yourself to be an experienced marathon runner, then here is a list of some of the best marathons in the United States for experts:

23. Rocket City Marathon

Location and Date: Huntsville, AL, December 2021

This is one of the most popular marathons in the south and it encourages runners to build “spirit teams” to help support them while they run. Runners and teams always have a blast.

24. Manchester Road Race

Location and Date: Manchester, Connecticut, November 2021

With an average of about 15,000 runners each year, this marathon is the most popular choice in the state of Connecticut. 

25. Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Location and Date: Chicago, Il, October 2021

This marathon has often been referred to as one of the most respected marathons in the world. While this course is flat and fast, making it easy for beginners, many of the most elite runners sign up for this marathon due to its high prestige. Every runner wants the opportunity to participate in this marathon at least once.

26. Living History Farms Marathon

Location and Date: Urbandale, IA, November 2021

This marathon is one of the most popular among the more experienced runners. This course is definitely not appropriate for beginners and may even be too much of a challenge for those in the intermediate group due to the rough terrain throughout farmland. You must dodge livestock, farm equipment, and more. These obstacles make the course even more challenging.

27. Bourbon Marathon

Location and Date: Lexington, KY, October 2021

This marathon is definitely not for the faint-of-heart, as the whopping 200 mile-long course can be intimidating. Many experienced runners that finish the Bourbon Marathon thoroughly enjoy the celebratory bourbon that this marathon is known for. 

28. JFK 50-Miler

Location and Date: Washington, County, MD, November 2021

This marathon is a definite challenge for expert runners and is considered to be an “ultra marathon.”

29.The MO’Cowbell Marathon

Location and Date: St. Louis, MO, October 2021

This marathon is popular due to its challenging course and cowbell theme, which runners and spectators believe increases the fun of the marathon. 

30. Good Life Halfsy

Location and Date: Lincoln, NE, November 2021

Don’t let the fact that this is not a full marathon make you believe it’s an easy course. This marathon is as fun as it is challenging. Make sure you’re well prepared.

31. Las Vegas Rock ‘N Roll Marathon

Location and Date: Las Vegas, NV, November 2021

This marathon is very unique, and not only is there plenty of rock-n-roll music to jam to while running, but the marathon allows runners to run to wedding chapels with their significant others and either get married or renew their wedding vows. Of course, it’s not required to visit any of the wedding chapels, but it’s certainly very popular. 

32. Wyoming Marathon

Location and Date: Laramie, Wyoming, May 2022

This marathon’s course consists of many challenging hills that may be difficult for beginners and mid-level runners. Runners love the higher elevation of this location, as well as the beautiful views of this historic Old West town.

33. Walt Disney World Marathon

Location and Date: Orlando, FL, January 2022

If you’re looking for a challenging marathon that is an epic event instead of a mere marathon, then you’ll love this choice. Runners get to enjoy viewing classic Disney characters throughout the race, and each registered runner will receive a personalized bib with their name on it. Beginners and intermediate level runners can run this marathon as well, as there are other courses that are more appropriate for their levels.

Final Thoughts on the Best Marathons in the US

Once you’ve chosen the marathon you’d like to participate in, please don’t forget to acknowledge your supporters. Many of them were with you every step of the way.

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