Marathon running is becoming more and more popular in the US. There are over 700 marathons to choose from annually. In 2016, over half a million people participated in these marathons, up dramatically from only 25,000 in 1979. Marathon running has become a common activity for people that want to set a high fitness bar for themselves. However, these races vary widely depending on what you are looking for. Below are some of the top marathons to compete in as well as some unique, interesting ones to join in on.

New York City Marathon

The TCS New York City Marathon is the largest race in the world, with over 55,000 participants running through the city that never sleeps. The race starts in Staten Island and crosses the Verrazano Bridge into Brooklyn. The race proceeds through Queens, the Bronx and finally finishes in beautiful Central Park as millions in the city cheer you on.

Walt Disney Marathon

This race is held at the Disney Resort in Orlando. Held in January, many runners often combine vacation, New Year’s Eve and their marathon at this event. The race takes runners around the resort through the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and finishes at magical Epcot Center. Disney characters cheer you on along the race route while tens of thousands of people enjoy the park.

Chicago Marathon

This is the second largest marathon in the US with over 40,000 runners. It is loved for its flat surfaces and relatively easy course layout. The race goes throughout the major neighborhoods including River East, Lincoln Park, Wrigleyville, The Loop, Chinatown and finally finishes in Millennium Park.

Boston Marathon

This race is considered be one of the top races in the country because most of the runners’ eligibility is based on qualifying times at other marathons. The average runner is much more fit in this race than comparable citywide races. The town holds a parade and a local holiday called Patriot’s Day to celebrate the race.

Surf City Marathon

This marathon is a bit smaller and is held in Huntington Beach, California. It goes along the longest stretch of uninterrupted beach in California. Runners can view the beautiful Pacific Ocean throughout their run, watching surfers, enjoying music and taking in the sun. It is held in February to avoid intense heat.

Napa Valley Marathon

For the wine enthusiast, the Napa Valley Marathon might be the ideal choice. This 40 year old race takes runners up and down dirt roads along the gorgeous vineyards of Napa Valley. It has fantastic scenery and many racers get together for wine tastings after the race is over.

St. Jude Nashville Rock N Roll Marathon

Nashville is the headquarters of country music so there may be no city better suited to host this kind of event. Runners are greeted with an assortment of live musical acts as they run through the city streets. The race also benefits St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

Lake Placid Marathon

Lake Placid hosted the 1980 and 1932 Winter Olympic Games and is most famous for the Miracle on Ice Hockey game where the US team of amateurs beat the Russian professionals.  The marathon takes up on that theme to inspire runners to give it their all. The race starts and finishes at the Olympic Speedskating Oval. In between, runners are treated to a beautiful view of the lake and scenery.

Air Force Marathon

This race is held at an Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio and sponsored by the Air Force. 15,000 runners from all over the country participate. They get to experience a roaring flyover at the beginning of the race from several jets. Additionally, runners can see military aircraft along the running route.