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The best marathons in the world!

New York Marathon
Standing out in the crowd at the New York Marathon

If you’re a marathon runner and would love to take on some of the best races in the world over the weirdest, wildest, most gruelling or most picturesque countryside on the planet, this post is for you!

I wrote this for all my sport-billy friends who will find it helpful to have – all in one place – a list of the world’s best marathons by date, links to the sites and all the info they need to plan their training schedule.

Note, I said I wrote this for my friends. I do not run. I have a perfectly good car!

BUT if your goal is to run the New York Marathon or the Paris or the Reggae Marathon in Jamaica or even run with the Big Five in Africa, read on…

Paris Marathon, April

Join 50,000 people in the 5th largest marathon in the world from the Champs-Elysees past all the major sites. Just a pity you won’t have time to take pics as you puff past.

Run past the icons in Paris
Run past the icons in Paris

London Marathon, April

The TCS London Marathon starts in Greenwich and runs through south London, crossing the Thames at Tower Bridge past Big Ben and parliament buildings to end at St James Park.

Boston Marathon, April

Held on Patriots Day each year, the Boston Marathon is the oldest annual marathon in the world having started in 1897.

The Great Wall Marathon, May

Climb, walk, run, drag yourself over the 5164 steps and shuffle along the Great Wall of China and work those muscles.

Great wall marathon
Puffing over the Great Wall!

The Big Five Marathon, June

You will literally run through a big game reserve in South Africa with nothing to separate you from the elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard. No fences, no rivers, just you and your Nikes. This marathon is so popular you need to register a year in advance.

Big 5 marathon
Run like a gazelle – or giraffe!

Sydney Marathon, September

Run alongside 35,000 people over the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge through the Botanic Garden, around the Rocks, into Hyde Park and finishing at the Sydney Opera House. There are also family fun runs held on the same day.

Auckland Marathon, October

Start in Devonport on Auckland’s north shore with 17,000 others, run over the Harbour Bridge and finish at Victoria Park, or you can do the half marathon or the kids fun run.

best marathons
Over the Auckland Harbour Bridge
The NY marathon rhino
Imagine running the whole way in this get up?!

New York Marathon, November

Probably the most iconic marathon in the world. You’ll run through New York’s five boroughs with two million spectators cheering you on. You need to have your application in by about April, so do it now and spend the rest of the year getting ready!

My brother ran the New York Marathon and my husband and I went over to watch him. We missed him. I have a few tips for how you can avoid that when you go on this post!Click here for my blog of Tips for race day at the New York Marathon >>>

Athens Marathon, November

This is where the first marathon started over 2500 years ago! Hopefully the originators fate won’t happen to you, but the very first marathon was run by a man named Phillipides who ran from Marathon to Athens (42.195 km) to announce that the Greeks had defeated the Persians. He then collapsed and died. If running a full marathon scares you, join in for the 5k or 10k run.

Queenstown Marathon, New Zealand, November

This is one of New Zealand’s newest and hands down, most spectacular marathon for the scenery. This running festival also includes a half marathon, 10km and 3km runs for the whole family between the Crown Ranges and the Remarkables and runs through the best of Queenstown.

Reggae Marathon, Jamaica, December

Head to Negril Jamaica, get your reggae running style on and enjoy the event, the food, and the reggae beats along the way. They also have a 5k and 10k run.

Jamaica marathon
A well earned cool down

Need tips on how to get ‘marathon ready’? This post has some great advice for how to prepare for your first marathon including training plans, fuel for the day, footwear and more. Click here for the

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!