Marathon is the supreme discipline of long-distance running. They are not only attractive for top athletes, but also for hobby runners. The choice of events is almost endless. So which marathons are the most breathtakingly beautiful ones? We have put together our top 10.
With its 1,829 meters of altitude (of which approx. 1,500 meters only start from kilometer 25), the Jungfrau-Marathon, might not be a marathon for beginners. The finish is at 2,320 meters above sea level. This means that – after you have already run 25km on flat terrain – the actual showdown only really begins with the remaining 1,500 meters of altitude difference in ever thinner air. It is therefore important to divide up your forces well so that you don’t experience any nasty surprises at the end. But the long ascent is definitely worth it and the view is truly magnificent.
Course records: 2:49:02 (Jonathan Wyatt, 2003), 3:12.56 (Maude Mathys, 2017)
Number of participants: Record at 8,572
Tromsø Midnight Sun Marathon
The exceptional thing about this race is certainly the midnight sun, which gives it a unique atmosphere – granted that the weather plays along, of course. The combination of snow-covered mountain peaks and the sea is also very special. The course runs almost exclusively along the sea and is therefore much flatter than that of the Jungfrau-Marathon. On this course it is therefore much easier to achieve a good marathon time.
Course records: 2:20:31 (Ebrahim Abdulaziz, 2019), 2:38:22 (Brynhild Synstnes, 2019)
Number of participants 2019: 1,022
Queenstown International Marathon
Although, for most people, New Zealand doesn not exactly lie around the corner, this running experience is definitely worth the trip. Queenstown is located in the southern part of New Zealand’s South Island. On the course you will pass several smaller lakes in an idyllic landscape consisting of mountains, meadows and forest. The last 10 kilometers lead along the famous Lake Wakatipu to the center of Queenstown. This marathon is a relatively “pleasant” run with its approx. 330 m altitude, the alternating surface (tar and gravel path) and the moderate climate. According to the motto of the relaxed New Zealanders: Stay relaxed and enjoy!
Country: New Zealand
Course records: 2:23:56 (Samuel Wreford, 2017), 2:52:21 (Hannah Oldroyd, 2017)
Number of participants: 11,062 (so far registered for 2019)
Big Sur International Marathon
This marathon follows the Californian coast from Big Sur to Carmel (between Los Angeles and San Francisco). From Big Sur Station, 108m above sea level, the route goes 665m uphill and 770m downhill, so that in Carmel you almost reach sea level (3m above sea level). The endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean, the beaches, cliffs and gentle hills make this marathon a wonderful experience.
Course records: 2:16:39 (Brad Hawthorne, 1987), 2:41:45 (Svetlana Vasilyeva , 1996)
Number of participants 2018: 3,291
Great Wall Marathon
The Great Wall Marathon is truly an extraordinary marathon and certainly one of the most demanding. Most of the course is directly on the iconic Great Wall of China! There are several meters of altitude to climb, many of them in the form of stairs. The gradient of the course is up to 10% in some places. Thus, it is not for those aiming for a fast marathon time. However, this run not only offers amazing sceneries, but also an unforgettable cultural experience.
Course records: 3:09:18 (Jorge Maravilla, 2013), 3:32:12 (Siliva Serafini, 2013)
Number of participants 2019: 645
Patagonian International Marathon
The event takes place at the southern tip of the South American continent in western Patagonia, east of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field (the largest glacier area in the southern hemisphere outside Antarctica) and south of Torres del Paine National Park. The landscape is hilly, quite rough and adventurous and will surely be remembered for a long time.
Course records: 2:57:36 (Luke Meyer, 2012), 3:30:29 (Inez-Anne Hagen, 2018)
Number of participants 2018: 148
Virgin Money London Marathon
If you prefer to a real classic among the marathons, the London Marathon is the right place for you. It doesn’t offer spectacular natural scenery, but a city sightseeing along several landmarks of the British capital. For this day, it seems that the entire population of London is in the streets to cheer on the many runners. The London Marathon is not only popular among hobby runners, is also an absolute favorite among the world’s top runners, as it is considered to be the fastest marathon in the world. Both the women’s and men’s world records were run here.
Image: Derby Telegraph
Country: Great Britain
Course records: 2:02:37 (Eliud Kipchoge, 2019), 2:15:25 (Paula Radcliffe, 2003)
Number of participants 2019: 41,906
Mt. Fuji International Marathon
The Mt. Fuji International Marathon is another jewel among the marathons. The race takes place in autumn, which means that it is relatively cool on the one hand, but at the same time the leaves on the trees have turned mesmerizing shades of red and gold. In combination with the white summit of Mt. Fuji in the background and the water of the two lakes you run around, you get an absolutely stunning landscape.
Course records: 2:21:36 (Yusuke Kodama, 2018), 2:39:47 (Tomomi Sawahata, 2018)
The event takes place in Moshi, the largest city near Kilimanjaro, which lies about 800m above sea level. The route leads through parts of the city, many small farms and villages, banana and coffee plantations and forest areas, to the great delight of the local people who cheer the runners on. The highest freestanding mountain in the world dominates the whole area in the background with its presence.
Image: World’s Marathons
Month: Late February/ Early March
Course records: 2:13:50 (David Kiprono, 2012), 2:38:03 (Alice Kibor, 2016)
Number of participants 2018: 614
Petra Desert Marathon
The Petra Desert Marathon is a challenging adventure marathon in a beautiful desert region of the Jordan River. The race starts in an ancient city called Petra, from where the route leads around the city. The landscape consists of stone mountains, sand and bushes and the heat demands a lot of stamina from the participants. But the unique nature experience is definitely worth the sweat.
Course records: 3:15:03 (Salameh Abdel Karim Al Aqra, 2009), 3:43:25 (Inez-Anne Haagen, 2015)
Number of participants 2018: 121
We would like to emphasize that this list is subjective, and it was very difficult for us to make a selection. If you would like to add other marathons to the list, you are welcome to tell us in the comment field below. 😉
Article by: Marion Aebi