Training for, nevertheless running, a full marathon is a major accomplishment. It takes hours dedicated to putting sneaker to pavement, countless amounts of sweat (and possibly a few toenails), and of course, maybe a few pounds. And while some people are naturally better at taking to running than others, others simply dream of running the 26.2-mile race one single time so that they can say, once and for all, that they are a marathoner.
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Sound familiar? Good for you, you've got the bug. Now all you need to do is pick the perfect race. There are loads of factors that go into choosing the right course for your first time. While location and proximity to home may be majorly important factors, other things like elevation, crowds, and bonuses (think entertainment and spectators) are all things to think about.
Need help picking your first marathon? Take a looksee at these seven beginner-friendly marathon courses:
Date: February 16, 2016
Why we love it: With a race cap at 5,000 runners, this marathon is small enough to not make a new runner feel overwhelmed and lost amongst a flock of sneakers. Runners will run through some of Austin's most scenic areas, including Hyde Park and the University of Texas campus. Plus, there are 15 bands along the way to keep participants entertained until they hit Congress Avenue in the shadow of the State Capitol Building for the finish.
Date: October 9, 2016
Why we love it: With winding ocean-side roads and miles of waterfront views, this race is perfect for a newbie looking to snag some great scenery along the way. However with a quick stint by The Breakers, it may be hard to avoid getting off track.
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New Jersey Marathon
Date: May 1, 2016
Why we love it: Helloooooo flat. This course, which ends on the oceanfront Promenade, has no significant hills and is virtually flat. Translation? Perfect for snagging that personal record.
Lehigh Valley Health Network Via Marathon
Date: September 11, 2016
Cost:$95 before January 8
Why we love it: Designed by Bart Yasso, the Via Marathon has a net elevation drop of 240 feet, making it a speedy and popular choice. Also known for its bountiful amounts of shade, the course spans from Allentown to Easton, Penn.
Flying Pig Marathon
Date: May 1, 2016
Why we love it: The name alone makes it hard not to love this race. Back in the 1800s, Cincinnati was called "Porkopolis" because all of the stockyards and the meat packing industry often ran pigs though the downtown streets. It felt only natural, when organizers were looking to name the event in the late '90s, that the Flying Pig Marathon was appropriate. But the real draw to this race? The spectators. Over 100,000 people line the streets to cheer on runners.
Walt Disney World Marathon
Date: January 10, 2016
Why we love it: It's hard not to adore a course that stretches through all four Walt Disney World Theme Parks and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. With Mickey, Minnie, and the whole gang ready to cheer you on, there's no better place for a beginner to make life-long memories.
Date: November 20, 2016
Why we love it: Another flat one, here. Past racers credit the course with only having one true hill around mile 8, as well as minimal major turns making for an easy, enjoyable run. Packed with spectators along Chestnut street, you'll enjoy your fair share of local college students cheering you on from the many universities in the city's center.