Monday, September 12, 2011

5 of the Best Marathon Courses Around the World

Berlin Marathon 2007Image via WikipediaTaking part in a marathon is both a challenging and extremely rewarding experience. There are many marathon courses run around the world but there are few that are as well known and regarded as the following 5 marathon courses:

Chicago Marathon

Held in early October every year since 1977, the Chicago Marathon event is known for its fast, flat course.

Running numbers are capped at 45,000, so if you want to compete it's a good idea to register early. The entrance fee for international runners stands at $170 (£104).

Starting in Grant Park, participants head northwards before turning east into historic neighbourhoods, such as Little Italy and Old Town, and looping round to finish back at the park.

Berlin Marathon

The Berlin Marathon, meanwhile, allows runners to see some of the German capital's most historic buildings as they race. While the starting and finishing point is next to the iconic Brandenburg Gate, other sights you can take in include the Berliner Dom and the Reichstag building.

A million spectators enjoy the race each year with many heading to the corner of Friedrichstrasse and Torstrasse, which is a great place to see the action.

Regarded as one of the flattest major marathons, Berlin has seen a number of record-breaking runs since the inaugural event in 1974. These include 2008 where four-time champion Haile Gebrselassie from Ethiopia beat the record he set on the course just 12 months earlier.

Held on the last Sunday in September, some 40,000 people run the main event, while inline skaters race a version of the course the day before the main event.

Boston Marathon

For a really historic run, there is perhaps nothing like the Boston Marathon. Established in 1897, it is the oldest annual 26.2-mile race in the world and attracts around 27,000 runners on the third Monday of each April.

However, the race doesn't actually start in Boston. Instead, the beginning point is the nearby town of Hopkinton, where you will pass Ashland and Wellesley before arriving in the city for the finish at Copley Square, near to the public library.

The course is known for its challenging hills and perhaps one of the most difficult sections is at the 20-mile mark. Over a 600-metre stretch near Boston College, you'll have to tackle an incline of 88 feet.

The entrance fee for the event is $150, but you will also need to finish a qualifying marathon around nine months beforehand. This must be completed in a certain time and has to be a race certified by USA Track and Field or an equivalent international body.

London Marathon

The London Marathon is another famous long-distance event. Taking place every April, the first run was held in 1981 and the route has remained largely unchanged ever since it started.

Beginning in Greenwich, you'll pass by Canary Wharf, Big Ben and other famous London sights before turning past Buckingham Palace for the finish at the Mall.

With more than 36,000 people taking part, this is one of the most popular marathons in the world and while the entrance fee is £32, you can only participate if you are selected in the lottery draw.

In addition to attracting elite athletes and members of the public, numerous celebrities also take part in order to raise money for charity, with comedian Joe Pasquale and model Nell McAndrew among those to have run it in the past.

New York Marathon

Held on the first Sunday of every November, the New York Marathon has taken place since 1970 and attracts more than 45,000 participants.

From its starting point in Staten Island, the race encompasses all five of the city's boroughs, which also include Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and The Bronx, so whether you're running or a spectator, it can be a great way to take in the iconic US destination, particularly as it ends in Central Park.

During the race, dozens of live bands perform at designated stations in order to keep runners motivated, while the Queensboro Bridge, which links Queens and Manhattan, is one of the most popular spots for spectators.

All of these races form part of the World Marathon Majors series, so whether you're running or observing, heading to any of these courses means that you'll experience some of the best marathon action around.
This post was written by, a travel comparison website that has great deals available on flights and hotels in all of these famous marathon locations


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