How To Run America’s 20 Biggest Marathons in 2016

How To Run America's 20 Biggest Marathons in 2016

The TCS New York City Marathon finish line (Courtesy of NYRR)

Want to run one of the biggest marathons in the U.S.? You’ve got to know when to register.

Registration for the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon lottery opened on Thursday, January 21 at noon ET. (I’m one of its race announcers.) It’s the largest marathon in the world, and one of the toughest to get into.

Like the TCS New York City Marathon, America’s biggest marathons are in demand as some of the largest in the world. And most of them sell out before race day. So here’s how and when to register for the 20 biggest 26.2-milers in the U.S. Many of these races offer half-marathon, 10K, 5K, or other races distances, too.

20 Biggest Marathons in the U.S.

1. TCS New York City Marathon

New York
49,365 finishers in 2015
50,386 finishers in 2014
#1 in the world in 2014
Next race: November 6, 2016
Registration: Lottery open now until February 21, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Drawing is March 8, 2016. If you’re lucky enough to have a guaranteed entry, you must claim it during this one-month window. Entry via NYRR’s charity Team For Kids is available now. Other charity entries will become available in after the drawing in Spring. Entry via International Travel Partners is also available.
Half Marathon? No, but a 5-miler and 5K take place in the week before the race. Registration will open later in the year.

2. Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Illinois
37,395 finishers in 2015
40,595 finishers in 2014
#2 in the world in 2014
Next Race: October 9, 2016
Registration: Lottery opens March 15-April 12. Runners with guaranteed entry, such as legacy finishers, time qualifiers, charity runners, and international tour group runners, can apply between March 8-April 12. Charity entries will be available.
Half Marathon? No

3. Boston Marathon

Massachusetts
26,612 finishers in 2015
31,932 finishers in 2014
#6 in the world in 2014
Next Race: April 18, 2016
Registration: Closed. Next registration window for 2017 qualifiers will open September 2016. Charity entries are available.
Half Marathon? No, but registration for the 5K opens Wednesday, January 27, 2016.

4. Marine Corps Marathon

Washington, D.C.
23,184 finishers in 2015
19,689 finishers in 2014
#12 in the world in 2014
Next Race: October 30, 2016
Registration: Lottery will open March 24-30, 2016. Selected runners will be notified on March 31. Charity entries will be available. Travel agency entries are available. Bib transfers will also be allowed.
Half Marathon? No, but there’s a 10K and Kids Run.

5. Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon

California
21,940 finishers in 2015
21,508 finishers in 2014
#10 in the world in 2014
Next race: February 14, 2016
Registration: Open now. Not a lottery, but usually sells out before race day.
Half Marathon? No, but there’s a 5K.

6. Honolulu Marathon

Hawaii
21,551 finishers in 2015
21,814 finishers in 2014
#9 in the world in 2014
Next Race: December 11, 2016
Registration: Early, discounted entry open now for U.S. and Canadian residents until January 31. General registration opens in April. Not a lottery and no field cap, so it doesn’t sell out.
Half Marathon? No, but there’s a miler and 10K walk.

7.  Walt Disney World Marathon

Florida
19,074 finishers in 2015
19,201 finishers in 2014
#13 in the world in 2014
Next Race: January 8, 2017
Registration: Opens April 26, 2016 at noon ET. Not a lottery, but the marathon and all other weekend events sell out.
Half Marathon? Yes, plus a 10K, 5K, runDisney Kids Races, Dopey Challenge, and Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge. Registration opens at the same time as the marathon.

8. GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon

Pennsylvania
9,161 finishers in 2015
10,359 finishers in 2014
Next race: November 20, 2016
Registration: Opens April 1, 2016. Not a lottery, but the race typically sells out in October from one month to a few weeks before race day. Charity entries will be available.
Half Marathon? Yes. It also typically sells out a month before race day. The weekend has an 8K run, too.

9. Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon

Minnesota
8,543 finishers in 2015
8,853 finishers in 2014
Next Race: October 9, 2016
Registration: Opens February 2, 2016 at 10 a.m. CT. Not a lottery, but the race typically sells out a few months in advance.
Half Marathon? No, but the event hosts a 10-miler with a lottery that opens July 6, 2016. 10K, 5K, and kids race registration opens February 2, 2016.

10. Chevron Houston Marathon

Texas
7,145 finishers in 2015
7,048 finishers in 2014
Next Race: January 15, 2017
Registration: Early registration for 2017 is open through January 21, 2016 at 3 p.m. CT. Guaranteed entries open May 5-31, 2016. General registration and charity entries open June 1, 2016 until they sell out.
Half Marathon? Yes, and a 5K too.

11. Grandma’s Marathon

Minnesota
6,077 finishers in 2015
6,211 finishers in 2014
Next Race: June 18, 2016
Registration: Closed. Charity entries are available.
Half Marathon? Yes. Lottery held in October. There’s also a 5K.

12. San Francisco Marathon

California
6,036 finishers in 2015
6,620 finishers in 2014
Next Race: July 31, 2016
Registration: Open now. Not a lottery, and doesn’t typically sell out.
Half Marathon? Yes, two of them. Runners can register to run the first or second half of the marathon. The first half typically sells out. There’s also a 5K and ultramarathon.

13. Portland Marathon

Oregon
5,716 finishers in 2015
6,431 finishers in 2014
Next Race: October 9, 2016
Registration: Open now. The 2014 race sold-out a month in advance.
Half Marathon? Yes. Open now. The 2016 Portland Half Marathon is close to selling out, per the race website.

14. California International Marathon

California
5,627 finishers in 2015
5,804 finishers in 2014
Next Race: December 4, 2016
Registration: Opens March 1, 2016. Not a lottery, but the race sells-out. Charity entries will be available.
Half Marathon? No, but the Relay Challenge lets runners tackle the marathon in teams of two, three or four.

15. St. George Marathon

Utah
5,461 finishers in 2015
5,804 finishers in 2014
Next Race: October 1, 2016
Registration: Lottery opens April 1 to May 2, 2016. Charity entries will be available.
Half Marathon? No

16. Anthem Richmond Marathon

Virginia
4,523 finishers in 2015
5,112 finishers in 2014
Next Race: November 12, 2016
Registration: Open now
Half Marathon? Yes, plus an 8K

17. Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon

Ohio
4,443 finishers in 2015
5,459 finishers in 2014
Next Race: October 16, 2016
Registration: Opens February 1, 2016. The 2015 race sold out in August.
Half Marathon? Yes

18. Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon

California
4,327 finishers in 2015
5,331 finishers in 2014
Next Race: June 5, 2016
Registration: Open now. The race has sold out anywhere from two months to a few days before race day.
Half Marathon? Yes, plus a 5K and 2-person half-marathon relay

19. Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon

Pennsylvania
4,303 finishers in 2015
4,559 finishers in 2014
Next Race: May 1, 2016
Registration: Open now and typically sells out.
Half Marathon? Yes, plus a 5K, marathon relay, kids race and pet walk

20. Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Indiana
4,027 finishers in 2015
3,736 finishers in 2014
Next Race: November 5, 2016
Registration: Open now and typically sells out.
Half Marathon? Yes, plus a 5K and kids run

Statistics are pulled from Athlinks, the 2014 Running USA Annual Marathon Report and individual race websites.

Join Karla's Running Adventures

Get registration reminders, race reports, reviews and more straight to your inbox!

Karla Bruning

About 

Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the Panasonic New York City Triathlon + regular contributor to Shape + Redbook online. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims, spoils her dog + travels compulsively.

21

01 2016

4 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    Thanks for the tips! My plan for this year is to toss my name into several lotteries and let fate decide my next 26.2, haha. I already entered NYCM and I’m dying to do Chicago and/or Marine Corps this year, so…fingers crossed. :)

    • Karla Bruning
      2

      Good luck! Marine Corps is still on my personal to-do list now that I’ve checked off NYC, Chicago, Honolulu, Disney, Philly & Toronto. So many races to run!

  2. 3

    This is a great list, very impressive and everything’s very easy to read! I’m going to bookmark this :) Any plans to do the same for 5k’s and 10k’s?



Your Comment

CommentLuv badge