We’re continuing our list of the world’s top 50 marathons. In part VIII, you’ll find even more adventurous and challenging courses to add to your list!
15. Monterey Bay Half Marathon
Featured as an out-and-back course starting in the historic downtown of Monterey, CA, this marathon runs along Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and by the scenic Pacific Grove shoreline. The course boasts views of waves crashing along rocky beaches, beautiful Victorian-era homes, and even sightings of sea life, including whales and dolphins.
However, participants should keep in mind that the Half Marathon course and finish line are open for a 3.5-hour finish pace, or 16 minutes per mile. The time limit begins at the final start wave. Runners who cannot maintain a 16-minute pace may be turned around early or directed to an alternate course. Official finish times, aid stations, finish medallions, and refreshments after the race are only offered to runners who maintain a 3:30 finish pace or less. For some, it helps incentivize picking up the pace.
After the finish at the downtown Custom House Plaza-Monterey State Historic Park, the post-race Finish Village offers the Treadmill Recovery Center, where participants and their families can take advantage of a free beer while they watch the Awards Ceremony.
14. Toronto Waterbank Marathon
The annual Toronto Waterfront Marathon has plenty of options for runners of all experience levels. In North America, the race has become an elite-level marathon and is only one of just five IAAF Gold Label Marathons on the continent. On race day, it hosts a half marathon, 5km race and a virtual marathon.
The 42k course runs through Toronto’s downtown district and along the city’s waterfront, heading past more than a dozen Toronto neighborhoods, offering unique sights and sounds. In partnership with ASICS, the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon is also happy to provide free premium upgrades to Runkeeper GO™, ️ including training plans, progress insights, workout comparisons, and live tracking.
On top of it all, the race stands out for its charitable donations. Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon has raised millions of dollars for charity since it was founded in 2000. The Engineers Without Borders organization is the largest charity attending the marathon in the past few years, which uses donations from the marathon for their Run to End Poverty initiative.
13. Missoula Marathon
Sometimes a laid-back marathon makes the challenges a bit easier. The Missoula, Montana environment offers just that in a marathon. In 2010, Runner’s World magazine called Missoula the best marathon in the United States. The following year, the state of Montana named it the state’s best tourism event as the town is known for turning out to support all the runners as they pass by. Residents on the sidelines also provide refreshments and entertainment as the runners move by, from juggling to a full band.
Coursing through tree-lined streets within Missoula’s University District and crossing over the Clark Fork River in downtown Missoula, the trail offers a joyous and entertaining time that brings out the whole community. It’s a great chance to see more of the United States and its people.
12. Medio Maraton de San Blas
The Medio Marathon de San Blas is one of the most popular destination races in the world, combining a Caribbean vacation with a first-class running competition. Participants run 26.2 miles along the Atlantic coast and various lagoons, discovering the fantastic scenery, and then can recover on the beach sipping on a drink.
Around 1,500 local and international athletes attend the competition, with the half marathon held in Coamo since 1965. However, runners should be prepared for heat and humidity. They can also take advantage of the aid stations with refreshments like Gatorade and water, placed a mile apart throughout the course. Since its inception, San Blas has become a cultural staple for runners and over 250,000 spectators that gather along the route. It’s a prime opportunity for runners to build up their tolerance to the heat while experiencing the lively buzz of the city.
11. Mount Saint Michel Marathon
If runners are looking for another marathon that takes runners along a challenging rush along a beautiful coastline — France’s northwestern Atlantic shore. The race itself is a race against one of nature’s most profound elements: the sea. The marathon can become difficult as the sea starts to rise back throughout the plane of Saint Michel to the shining gem of the monastery on top of the mountain.
The race begins in the Bretagne village of Cancale and ends in Normandy, in front of the world-famous eighth-century monastery of Mont Saint-Michel. As one of the most visited landmarks in France and on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the race is a unique opportunity to take in the scenery of France while enjoying the culture. Stunning views of the Normandy coastline aren’t the only things to invigorate participants. Even more invigorating is the effort to beat the waves and make it across the finish line, chanting Yes, we can. The race also features a celebratory after-party with what some consider the best after-race wine.