Top 10 Easiest Marathons in the US for Beginners


Running a marathon is a tremendous accomplishment, but for beginners, it can be overwhelming. One of the best ways to ease into the world of long-distance running is by participating in the easiest marathons. These races cater to new runners by featuring flatter terrains, supportive crowds, and scenic courses. In this article, we’ll reveal the top 10 easiest marathons in the US that are perfect for beginners and discuss how to prepare for your first race.

Why Easiest Marathons Appeal to Beginners

Beginners find easiest marathons appealing as they offer a more manageable introduction to long-distance running. Instead of confronting challenging terrains or strict time limits, these races provide a gentler environment to build confidence and endurance. Plus, with the support of fellow runners and enthusiastic spectators, first-timers can fully enjoy the marathon experience.

Factors that Make a Marathon Easier

Several factors contribute to a marathon’s level of difficulty, including the course’s terrain, elevation changes, and weather conditions. Flatter routes and mild climates typically produce an easier marathon experience, allowing beginners to focus on building their stamina and mental fortitude.

Top 10 Easiest Marathons in the US


Walt Disney World Marathon

Location: Orlando, FL

Terrain: Flat and paved

The Walt Disney World Marathon takes runners through all four Disney theme parks, giving participants a magical experience. This flat and fast course attracts many first-time marathoners due to its beginner-friendly nature and on-course entertainment, with Disney characters cheering you on along the way.

Marine Corps Marathon

Location: Arlington, VA

Terrain: Gentle hills and paved surfaces

Hailed as the “People’s Marathon,” the Marine Corps Marathon is a favorite among beginners. The course, with its mostly gentle hills, offers picturesque views of the Washington, D.C. area. High levels of motivation and camaraderie make this a popular choice for those embarking on their marathon journey.

Chicago Marathon

Location: Chicago, IL

Terrain: Flat and fast

The Chicago Marathon is one of the top US marathons and a World Marathon Major, renowned for its fast, flat course. Beginners benefit from crowd support, smooth roads, and optimal weather conditions for long-distance running, making this an excellent introduction to marathon running.

Philadelphia Marathon

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Terrain: Mostly flat with some rolling hills

The Philadelphia Marathon offers beginners a scenic course through historic landmarks, parklands, and vibrant neighborhoods. Its mostly flat route, with minor elevation changes, is suitable for first-time marathoners.

Honolulu Marathon

Location: Honolulu, HI

Terrain: Moderately hilly

The Honolulu Marathon features a tropical, mostly coastal course with moderate hills. There is no time limit, making it extremely beginner-friendly. Plus, runners get to indulge in scenic views of the Pacific Ocean, Diamond Head, and Waikiki Beach.

Big Sur International Marathon

Location: Carmel, CA

Terrain: Rolling hills and coastal roads

For those seeking a picturesque and beginner-friendly marathon, look no further than the Big Sur International Marathon. Although the course features rolling hills, its breathtaking coastal roads and mild weather make it a popular choice for first-time marathoners.

Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon

Location: Cincinnati, OH

Terrain: Rolling hills with some steep inclines

In spite of a few steep inclines, the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon’s supportive atmosphere and scenic waterfront route make it a great choice for new runners. The course takes participants through historic areas, parks, and bridges, providing a memorable experience.

St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

Location: Nashville, TN

Terrain: Rolling hills and city streets

With live music at every mile, the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon is perfect for beginners looking for an entertaining race. Though the course has some elevation gain, it’s manageable for first-time marathoners and weaves through iconic sights like the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Seattle Marathon

Location: Seattle, WA

Terrain: Moderately hilly and scenic

Though the Seattle Marathon features moderately hilly terrain, its scenic beauty makes it an attractive option for beginners. The course, which passes along Lake Washington and through vibrant neighborhoods, boasts fantastic views of the city skyline and surrounding mountains.

California International Marathon

Location: Sacramento, CA

Terrain: Gently rolling hills and urban streets

The California International Marathon offers a net downhill course that appeals to new runners. Beginning in the picturesque countryside, the route takes participants through tree-lined streets and charming neighborhoods, ending at the California State Capitol. The marathon is known for its supportive spectators and lively atmosphere, making it a popular choice for beginners.

Fun Facts and Interesting Statistics

World Records Set in Easiest Marathons

Many of the easiest marathons, such as the Chicago Marathon, have seen world records set or broken. These achievements contribute to the race’s credibility and popularity.

Celebrities Who Have Participated in These Marathons

Easiest marathons also attract several celebrities, including actors, musicians, and politicians looking to test their endurance. For example, Oprah Winfrey famously completed the Marine Corps Marathon in 1994, inspiring many others to take up running.

Preparing for Your First Marathon

Choosing the Right Training Plan

Selecting an appropriate training plan is crucial for preparing for your first marathon. New runners should choose a program designed for beginners that focuses on gradually increasing mileage and incorporates rest and cross-training days. Consult resources such as the “20 weeks half marathon training plan” to find a suitable schedule.

Tips for Tackling an Easy Marathon

To succeed in an easy marathon, beginners should remember to start slow, pace themselves, and practice proper running form. Staying hydrated and fueling during the race is also crucial. For more tips and advice, refer to our guide on [“how to get ready for a marathon.”]

How long is a marathon?

A marathon covers a distance of 26.2 miles or 42.195 kilometers.

How can I train for my first marathon?

Choose a beginner-friendly training program that gradually increases mileage and incorporates cross-training and rest days. Stick to a consistent workout routine and prioritize rest and recovery.

What should I wear for a marathon?

Wear moisture-wicking running clothes and comfortable, well-fitting running shoes. Dress according to the weather and remember to wear sun protection if needed.

Do I need to fuel during a marathon?

Yes, consuming energy gels or other easily digestible forms of carbohydrates during a marathon helps maintain energy levels and prevents fatigue.

What is the average time for completing an easy marathon?

Completion times vary depending on the runner’s fitness and experience levels. However, average finishing times for beginners range from 4 to 6 hours.


The Benefits of Choosing an Easy Marathon

Easiest marathons offer a perfect introduction to long-distance running for beginners. By selecting an event with a gentler course and supportive atmosphere, first-time marathoners can build confidence, endurance, and a love for the sport.

Next Steps: Registering for Your First Marathon

Once you’ve identified the best beginner-friendly marathon for you, it’s time to register, choose a training plan, and begin your journey towards long-distance running success. Be sure to check our list of must-run marathons to inspire your future running endeavors.

Comparison of Top Easiest Marathons in the US

Walt Disney World MarathonOrlando, FLFlat and paved
Marine Corps MarathonArlington, VAGentle hills and paved surfaces
Chicago MarathonChicago, ILFlat and fast
Philadelphia MarathonPhiladelphia, PAMostly flat with some rolling hills
Honolulu MarathonHonolulu, HIModerately hilly
Big Sur International MarathonCarmel, CARolling hills and coastal roads
Cincinnati Flying Pig MarathonCincinnati, OHRolling hills with some steep inclines
St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll MarathonNashville, TNRolling hills and city streets