Start Training! 7 Marathons to Run This Year

shot of runners legs during a road race

Source: iStock

Running a marathon involves months of training and aching muscles, but the feeling you get when you cross that finish line (and 26.2 off your bucket list) is definitely worth it. But can you really run that far? We’re betting so considering a record 550,637 individuals completed the distance in America during 2014, according to Running USA’s most recent report.

Once you’ve decided you want to tackle the challenge, figuring out which to run seems nearly as difficult as the physical feat because there are more that 1,100 marathons in the U.S. each year. We’ve sorted through the bunch to bring you seven of the best ones, no matter your experience or specific goals.

1. Most scenic

San Francisco Marathon
Where: San Francisco, Calif.
When: July 31, 2016

This hilly course sounds a bit intimidating, but your worries will melt away when you’re running through the historic streets of San Fran and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.

2. Toughest course 

Pikes Peak Marathon
Where: Colorado Springs, Colo.
When: August 21, 2016

Pikes Peak rises more than 14,000 feet above sea level and is home to one of the toughest marathons in the country. You’ll climb 7, 815 feet for the first 13.1 miles, at times using your hands to scramble up the 13.4% grade. The last three require you to use hands and feet to crawl up rock. And don’t be fooled into thinking the downhill part will be much easier as footing can be questionable.

3. Most under-the-radar

Newport Marathon
Where: Newport, R.I.
When: October 9, 2016

The less-popular Newport Marathon is another incredibly scenic route. The City by the Sea offers picturesque views which include historic mansions and, of course, the ocean. The race ends downhill, making for a motivating finish.

runners during a race

Source: Thinkstock

4. Best chance for a personal best

Chicago Marathon
Where: Chicago
When: October 9, 2016

This race is flat and fast, making it great for beginners and those looking to clock a new personal record. Chicago is also known for its crazy spectators, about 1.7 million, who loudly cheer runners to the finish line. It’s also one of the six World Marathon Majors, meaning this marathon is no joke and making it a super exciting event each year.

5. Best for beginners

Portland Marathon
Where: Portland, Ore.
When: October 9, 2016

Portland’s laid-back feel extends to its marathon, where participants don’t have to worry about any time limit. The scenery is beautiful, so those who wind up walking still have plenty to enjoy. The entire experience features live entertainment, including belly dancers, cheerleaders, and live bands.

6. Destination marathon

Honolulu Marathon
Where: Honolulu
When: December 11, 2016

Turn your race into a vacation by going for this iconic event in Hawaii. The race starts early (5 a.m.), and the temperature hikes up to the low 80s by 10 a.m. It might be toasty, but no time limit means you can take your time. And after finishing your 26.2 miles, you can enjoy a little bit of time to relax on the beach.

7. Most historic

Boston Marathon
Where: Boston
When: April 18, 2016

With its debut in 1897, Boston is the oldest marathon in the country, and it’s also one of the most iconic. Some of sport’s greatest moments have occurred during this race, and its strict qualifying standards only add to the appeal. If you manage to make the cut, definitely give it a go.

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