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Marathon Major Alternative Marathon Races

Aug 31, 2018 | Marathon Majors, Marathon Majors, Running | 3 comments

One of my most asked questions is ‘How to Run the World Marathon Majors’. If that’s what you’re here for – look at this post, and then see how I became a Six Star Finisher here.

But what if you’ve run all the marathon majors, or, you are struggling to get in to them. Most of the Majors (in fact, all of them now) are a lottery. Boston, is effectively a time lottery now that so many people run the qualifying time.

If you don’t get in to London try… Edinburgh 

From one capital city to another… although technically this race doesn’t go through the city centre and instead loops out to Musselburgh (for good reason – it makes a very flat course). It’s mid-May so it makes for a great post London marathon option.

Or Brighton. 

One of the best alternatives to London, the right time of year, well supported and a great course. Oh, and my friend Steph is the main photo on the homepage which is almost enough to get me to sign up!

If you don’t get in to Boston try… Eugene 

Whilst not the Marathon Mecca of Boston, Eugene is steeped in its own running history. Affectionately known as Tracktown USA, this town is mad for sports and runners in particular. Sadly, the infamous Hayward Field is under construction but you can still run on Pre’s trail, and of course, you’re not far from the Nike campus.

Or Athens

Ok, so I was trying to stick to races in a similar location, but I couldn’t not compare Boston to Athens…the OG marathon. Starting in Marathon at the stadium, taking you through the Greek countryside to the Panatheniac stadium. I have heard that the hills are brutal.. but it’s a once in a lifetime race.

Boston Marathon Race Recap

If you don’t get in to New York try…. Marine Corps Marathon  

Known as the ‘marathon of monuments’, this race runs through the US capital city and is one of the largest in the country. Without offering prize money to winners, it has also become known as the ‘People’s Marathon’, started in the post-Vietnam era to showcase goodwill in the Marine Corps, serve as a recruiting tool and provide a race that Marines (and now anyone!) can qualify for the Boston Marathon!

Or Honolulu

Maybe this isn’t the same, but New York is epic and Hawaii is epic. Although I would say, this is still one of the harder races to get in to.

If you don’t get in to Chicago try…. LA Marathon 

With a downhill aggregate, technically this course should provide fast times like the Chicago race. However, the weather sometimes gets the better of its runners and the natural Pacific Ocean ice bath is a welcome relief.

Or Phoenix

Fast. Flat (downhill) point-to-point course, and in February, this makes the weather perfect for a PB.

Tokyo Marathon 2018 Race Recap

If you don’t get in to Tokyo try…. Singapore

Hotly tipped to be the next addition to the Marathon Major circuit, this Asian race is sure to put on quite the show in the coming years to show it deserves ‘Major’ status.

Or Fukuoka. 

If it’s running in Japan that you’re after, (and why wouldn’t you, Japan has become the marathon capital of the world), then Fukuoka is one of the best.

If you don’t get in to Berlin try… Paris 

I’ve run this race twice, and had very different but good experiences both times. I think as a marathon, Paris is only getting better (and it’s a great Spring alternative to London!). Run along the Champs Elyses, past the Eiffel Tower and finish by the Arc de Triomphe. A great sightseeing tour of one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

Or Seville

Described as the flattest course in Europe, this February race isn’t quite as big of a city race as Berlin or Paris, but the profile and weather make it as good a PB option as Berlin.

Running the Berlin Marathon


  1. Laraine

    Some of these look amazing! As one a bit closer to home, I’d highly recommend the Loch Ness marathon. Not expensive, a great medal and t-shirt and the most stunning route along Loch Ness. Getting bussed to the start, a forest in the middle of nowhere, is pretty cool!

  2. Phillip Prophett

    Im running in the Moscow Marathon at the end of September. Very flat with wide open roads great for a PB attempt.

  3. kristi

    My first marathon was the Edinburg Marathon. It was great a part from having several different seasons in one marathon.

    But the Marine Corps Marathon was my favorite. it’s absolutely beautiful. The fall colors are out. The people are out. There is one mile where it’s called the blue mile and family/friends hold up signs of people they lost in the war. It’s emotionally perfect for that mile. My two criticisms are that you have two deadlines. The first one is to get to the bridge at 19 miles before they reopen to the public and that bridge is the most boring 1.5-2 miles since there are no supporters and very tired people running. The second is the finish line which the last 0.1 mile is uphill, steep uphill to the finish. But there was some very sexy marines in their shorts cheering us on right before we went uphill. I do highly recommend it!


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