After a few years of virtual races, travel restrictions and uncertainty, it’s time to start dreaming big again. We’ve compiled the ultimate bucket list of marathons from around the world. From our own backyard to the chilly shores of Antarctica and everything in between, we’re taking you on a global adventure.
Get your passport ready and lace up those runners because whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or you’ve flirted with the idea of running one, these marathons are going to inspire you.
Big Sur International Marathon
For one of the most scenic marathons in the world, try this point-to-point course along Highway 1 from Big Sur to Carmel. Spectacular scenery including crashing waves and towering redwoods will be a welcome distraction from the distance you have to cover. This race has a limited number of entries, so don’t wait to book.
APRIL | Big Sur, California
Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon
With an elevation gain/loss of more than 7,430 ft. (2,264 metres), this race is extremely challenging. Long climbs and descents will push your limits physically and mentally. The course begins in Roanoke and then takes you out into the surrounding mountains along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. The marathon is limited to 750 runners, so sign up fast if you think you have the legs for it.
APRIL | Roanoke, Virgina
Servus Calgary Marathon
Not only was the Calgary Marathon the first in Western Canada, but it is also Canada’s longest-running marathon, celebrating its 59th birthday this year. A lot has changed since 1963 when 19 men took part in the first-ever event. Now thousands of people from around the world flock to Calgary to run through downtown and the scenic southwest neighbourhoods of the city.
MAY | Calgary, Alberta
Since 1979, the Saskatchewan Marathon has been a much-loved event in the prairie city of Saskatoon. Much of the course is within the Meewasin Valley and along the Meewasin Valley Authority trails, one of the most recognized conservation areas in North America. Your entry fees help support the trails you will be running along.
MAY | Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
The Tartan Ottawa International Marathon
Explore Canada’s capital city while participating in Canada’s fastest marathon. The Tartan Ottawa International Marathon is one of two World Athletics Gold Label marathon events in Canada. Take to the streets with world-class athletes from around the world. As the country’s largest Boston Marathon Qualifier, this is surely an experience to be had.
MAY | Ottawa, Ontario
BMO Vancouver Marathon
You don’t have to travel too far to enjoy an incredible marathon experience. The BMO Vancouver Marathon is touted as the most scenic and largest race in Canada. Run past beaches and parks, and take in the ocean air as you run along the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path.
MAY | Vancouver, British Columbia
To get your fill of fantastic mountain scenery, you can’t beat this marathon. Your race begins in the mountain village of Banff and takes you on an incredibly beautiful journey through amazing natural landscapes. You’ll pass Vermillion Lakes and travel along the scenic Bow River returning to cheering crowds in downtown Banff.
JUNE | Banff, Alberta
Ocean views, tropical breezes and palm trees await you on this marathon route in Kauai. Beginning in Poipu, a resort area on the sunny south shore, the route takes you along the coastline and inland where you’ll have a backdrop of rugged mountains and tropical rainforests.
SEPTEMBER | Kauai, Hawaii
Royal Victoria Marathon
With an elevation change of only 74 feet, the Royal Victoria Marathon offers runners a scenic route along the ocean with a few gentle hills. You’ll run through the famous Beacon Hill Park, past the B.C. parliament buildings and enjoy views across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic Mountains of Washington.
OCTOBER | Victoria, British Columbia
Bank of America Chicago Marathon
This year the Chicago Marathon is celebrating its 45th running. Join the more than 45,000 runners from more than 100 countries who will take to the streets under the city’s sunny skies. Run through 29 of Chicago’s vibrant and character-filled neighbourhoods, enjoying a cultural and architectural tour of the north, west and south sides of the city as you push your body to its limits. Plus, this year will see the one-millionth finisher of the Chicago Marathon.
OCTOBER | Chicago, Illinois
Columbia Gorge Marathon
Enjoy spectacular fall colours as you run along the Columbia River Gorge. The route passes by waterfalls, slips through the small town of Mosier and offers a fantastic view at the Rowena Viewpoint turnaround.
OCTOBER | Hood River, Oregon
Toronto Waterfront Marathon
More than 20,000 participants from 50 countries flock to the streets of Toronto to race in the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Run along the beautiful Lake Shore Blvd. and enjoy the views of Toronto’s inner harbour and Lake Ontario as the city streets buzz with excitement from the crowds.
OCTOBER | Toronto, Ontario
TCS New York City Marathon
If you want to be part of a huge spectacle, the New York City Marathon is for you! It holds the record as the marathon with the most finishers – 52,811 in 2018. You’ll be cheered on by more than two million New Yorkers along the route and watched by an additional 300 million on the live broadcast. Beyond the numbers, you’ll get a great look at the city as you start on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge on Staten Island and then run through all five boroughs before crossing the finish line in iconic Central Park.
NOVEMBER| New York, New York
Good vibes, reggae music and an unbeatable pre-race pasta party make this marathon a standout. A massive spread of every kind of pasta plus other carbs will fuel your muscles through the marathon and beyond.
DECEMBER | Negril, Jamaica
There’s nothing better than trading in the dark days of winter for the vibrant and magical vibes of Miami. The course, although mainly flat, does have a few inclines over the bridges. However, let the beautiful ocean and harbour views distract from these more challenging moments of the marathon. The course runs through Miami Beach and the city, with a great mix of stunning views and bustling excitement.
JANUARY | Miami, Florida
Bermuda Triangle Challenge
In 2020, the race course was updated to begin in the historic Royal Naval Dockyard, offering participants a unique running tour of the island. Pass beautiful beaches and historic sites as you run just about the entire island. For an added touch, the Bermuda Marathon has introduced rum stops because what better way to fuel your run? With on-course entertainment and cheering squads, this will be a marathon to remember!
JANUARY | Bermuda
Big Five Marathon, South Africa
Run through the Entabeni Game Reserve accompanied by herds of antelope, grazing giraffes or trumpeting elephants! With a couple of big hills and surfaces ranging from deep sand to pavement, this race is sure to challenge your limits. But the magnificent scenery and amazing
wildlife are sure to take your run to another dimension.
JUNE | Limpopo, South Africa
The International Marrakech Marathon
One of the world’s fastest marathons and with a mild climate, Marrakech is a great choice for your first marathon. Run along the side of the city’s 12th-century ramparts, through the Menara gardens and along the dusty roads lined with palm trees, orange trees, and olive trees.
JANUARY | Marrakech, Morocco
This marathon will make your bucket list happy as you run in the shadow of Africa’s tallest mountain – Mount Kilimanjaro. Start your race in the northern town of Moshi. The 2023 route took runners uphill first, towards the looming mountain before coming back down through the
town. Feeling extra adventurous? Extend your stay and hike to the top of the world-famous mountain.
FEBRUARY | Moshi, Tanzania
Rome Marathon is one of the most fascinating in the world. Runners fill the ancient streets of the iconic Italian city. The race begins at the Imperial Fora, just blocks away from the Colosseum. From there, runners pass the Victor Emmanuel II monument, run along the Tiber River past Castel Sant’Angelo and then past St. Peter’s Basilica.
March | Rome, Italy
TCS London Marathon
What better way to see the iconic sights of London than by running through the city? Beginning at Blackheath and finishing on the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace, this mainly flat course will see you pass through Greenwich Park, run across Tower and London Bridge and head along the Embankment to Parliament Square. There’s literally a piece of history to see along every inch of the route.
APRIL | London, England
NN Rotterdam Marathon
Want to set your personal best? The NN Rotterdam Marathon is flat, often leading to fast times. The route circles through the city and past some of its stunning, cutting-edge architecture. Enthusiastic crowds add to the excitement along with bands, DJs and orchestras to encourage you.
APRIL | Rotterdam, Netherlands
In Edinburgh, you’ll go from the grounds of one of the oldest universities in the world past Musselburgh Links, the oldest golf course in the world, and through the heart of this most Scottish of cities. With the iconic Edinburgh Castle as the backdrop for part of the race, you’ll see some of the most historic sites in the city and perhaps make a bit of history yourself.
MAY | Edinburgh, Scotland
Icefjord Midnight Marathon
Although geographically considered to be part of North America, this northern land is actually part of Denmark, making it a unique bucket-list location on it’s own, but imagine testing your trail-running skills on this spectacular midnight race. Beginning and ending at the historic Hotel Hvide Falk, runners head through the picturesque town of Ilulissat before tackling Greenland’s rough terrain. Run past impressive icebergs in the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With virtually no flat parts along the trail, the rewarding views will make up for the challenging run.
JUNE | Ilulissat, Greenland
Midnight Sun Marathon
Starting at 8:30 p.m., this race is for night owls. But don’t worry about bringing a headlamp—the sun won’t dip far below the horizon at this northern locale. Located 400 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, Tromsø has 24 hours of sunlight in June. Expect a scenic route through the city with rolling hills.
JUNE | Tromsø, Norway
BMW Berlin Marathon
The Berlin Marathon is one of the most prestigious marathons in the world. Holding world records for fastest marathons for both men and women, Berlin’s cool conditions, flat and well-maintained roads make it a popular spot for athletes. Set off on this history-making course around the culturally rich city, passing landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate.
SEPTEMBER | Berlin, Germany
Marathon des Châteaux du Médoc
It may be the longest eating and drinking race in the world with over 20 places along the marathon route to stop for wine tastings and treats including grapes and ice cream. The course takes you through more than 50 scenic vineyards around the Medoc region and participants are required to run in costume, which just adds to the fun.
SEPTEMBER | Bordeaux, France
Sparkasse 3-Länder Marathon
Starting in Germany, this marathon route will take you into Austria and Switzerland before circling back to Austria at Bregenz. The route starts at the beautiful spa town of Lindau, Germany, and takes you along the shoreline of Lake Constance. Enjoy enchanting villages and white-capped mountains along the way.
OCTOBER | Austria/Germany/Switzerland
Paris 2024 Mass Participation Marathon
This is a marathon for the history books. With Paris hosting the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, they have introduced the Mass Participation Marathon. For the very first time, running events open to the general public will be held, so amateur athletes can run the same route as the Olympic marathon. Experience the unique and original route, which highlights the history of the area. Begin at Paris City Hall and pass by Paris’s beautiful monuments on the way to Versailles before returning to the finish line on the Esplanade des Invalides.
AUGUST 2024 | Paris, France
Australian Outback Marathon
This race is the quintessential “Down Under” experience. Australia’s famous Uluru is the backdrop to the starting line, with the outback’s red dusty landscape stretching out before you. As you run, enjoy the stunning views of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and the barren landscape of Northern Australia. The course itself is relatively flat, with few short sand dunes rewarding your hard work with stunning views of the outback.
JULY | Yulara, Australia
This primarily flat course features 70 per cent hard-packed trails and 30 per cent paved surfaces. You’ll pass through the stunning Lake District surrounding Queenstown with a backdrop of majestic mountains and pastoral countryside.
NOVEMBER | Queenstown, New Zealand
Bagan Temple Marathon
The challenge with this course doesn’t come in the elevation, as it is relatively flat, but in the hot and dusty conditions. However, runners will be easily distracted by the wonderous atmosphere as they pass beautiful ancient temples, sacred pagodas and small friendly villages.
NOVEMBER | Bagan, Myanmar
Petra Desert Marathon
Is there any place more enchanting to begin a marathon than the ancient cave city of Petra? With the starting line in the Street of Facades, this marathon will treat runners to history, culture and nature. Runners will pass mountainside carvings, ancient tombs, monasteries and caves before being released into the arid Jordanian desert.
SEPTEMBER | Petra, Jordan
Plan to arrive at least a week ahead to acclimatize before running this marathon at 3,500 metres above sea level. Known as one of the world’s toughest marathons due to the altitude, this race is not for beginners. The route begins in the historic town of Leh, then heads out along the Indus River and past several monasteries, churches and even a palace. With the Stok Mountain Range as a backdrop, this race is as scenic as it is challenging.
SEPTEMBER | Leh, India
Patagonian International Marathon
Run along the gravel roads of Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most stunning regions in the world. The breathtaking scenery of lakes and snow-capped mountains will be a welcomed distraction from the strenuous, hilly course and relentless and hostile climate of the area.
SEPTEMBER | Puerto Natales, Chile
Antarctic Ice Marathon
Recognized by Guinness World Records as the southernmost marathon on earth, the Antarctic Ice Marathon is not for the faint of heart—or for the faint of money as this once-in-a-lifetime race has an entry fee of US$21,500. Departing from Punta Arenas, Chile, participants will fly to the Union Glacier camp in Antarctica, where the race will begin. Be sure to pack your layers, as temperatures range from -10 C to -20 C during this time of year.
DECEMBER | Antarctica
Feature image of Patagonian International Marathon by Eduardo Hernández
You may also like: Top Vegan Travel Destinations
Read This Story in Our 2023 Running Issue
Featuring Rory Linkletter, Canadian half-marathon superstar. Add to your bucket list with the top Destination Marathons Around the World. Train for 10 km right up to a marathon – plus a 70.3 program. Increase your strength and work your core with Canada’s Top Fitness Trainers. Enjoy plant-based, post-run breakfasts and so much more.