My marathon schedule as laid out last April is already off (missed Missoula, only did half of Blerch, and 2015 is all over the place). But the schedule was not so much about hitting those exact races in those exact years but rather seeing how long it could (would?) take to run the 50 States, and to create a list of the top races to do. The whole goal is to enjoy this quest, so I want to make sure to pick the right races. How can I know if I’m picking the best race? Random internet lists to the rescue!
The venerable website VacationHomeRentals.com (“by Trip Advisor”) recently posted a list of the Best Marathon in Every State in the USA. I agree with the sparse comments more than I do with the list – not that I’ve run that many of the listed races, but the fact that they included my least favorite marathon to date (Marshall Marathon in West Virginia) leads me to suspect they just randomly threw this list together. Shocking, I know, considering what a leading runners’ resource VacationHomeRentals.com is. Is my sarcasm coming through? This thing on? <thump thump feeeeedback!>
Since that wasn’t a reliable list, I decided to suss out (aka Google) other lists of the “Best Marathon in Each State.” There aren’t all that many. Interestingly enough, FlipKey.com (also “by Trip Advisor”) posted an unannotated list of the 50 “top marathons & races” in each state here (dated April 9, 2014). Not all are full marathons, but it looks like most are.
The 50 States Marathon Club also has a “favorites” list from suggestions from members, but it’s unclear how many members have actually given input or how often they update it, plus it often includes more than one marathon per state. I only found one comprehensive 50 Marathons in the 50 States list from a site that actually has to do with running – Active.com’s Top 50 Marathons to do Across America – which also includes a short description on each race. There’s no date and no comments, so I have no idea when they put this list together. I also hate that it’s spread across 7 pages so you have to click-through everything, making it difficult to compare this list with the others – so, I did it for you!
In alphabetical order by state, here are the 50 “best” marathons in each state from VacationHomeRentals, FlipKey, the 50 States Marathon Club, and Active.com. Click the images above to expand, or click here for a 3-page PDF of the compiled lists. I also included my tentative “to do” list but did not highlight when my selections overlapped with another’s. Someday I hope to be able to create a compact review of a race in each state myself!
I highlighted those races that appeared in more than one list (and bolded the races in my list I’ve completed). It’s interesting to note that no race was included in all four lists, but several races were included in three (Little Rock, AR; Hartford, CT; Mesa Falls, ID; Boston, MA; Steamtown, PA; Myrtle Beach, SC; & Richmond, VA). Are those 7 races the best of the best, or do those states just not have a lot of great options? There were 10 states that didn’t have any overlap on the four lists (Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, & Washington). Not surprising for those states that are full of natural beauty and/or a lot of runners (e.g. Alaska, Colorado, Montana, Washington, etc.), but I was surprised there were that many “best” races in Maryland and Missouri.
For the sake of thoroughness, although I did not include these lists in my compilation: here’s Men’s Health’s 2012 article 11 Races to Run Before You Die, clearly written by someone who was asked to name every race that he could name off the top of his head, with a couple of randoms thrown in (if you hate the slideshow format like me, here’s a spoiler: Chicago Marathon, NYC Marathon, Honolulu Marathon, Boston Marathon, Big Sur Marathon, Mt Desert Island Marathon, Indy Mini Half Marathon, London Marathon, Bay-to-Breakers, Miami Half Marathon, & Covered Bridges Half Marathon). But it’s no worse than the TopEventsUSA.com’s list (updated Feb 2014) of the “Top 20 Marathons or Marathon Events in the USA,” presented in such a maddening non-list I can’t bother to re-create it here. There’s also this crowdsourced list of marathons by month, but the links simply send you to comments made on MarathonGuide.com. Finally, here’s Marathon and Beyond’s 1998 list of the top 26 Marathons in North America. Surprisingly I think most are still being run!
As always, I think the best resource for information on marathons in the US is MarathonGuide.com – bless all those people who write detailed reviews – but now you have a color-coded compiled 50 “best” list, which is better than actually training for anything, right?
And for a bonus candy review – the candy pictured above was one of the new candies I got in Houston. It’s super delicious, like a delicate Kit Kat with chopped hazelnuts on top. The wafer is airy, the chocolate and hazelnut flavors are good, and the chopped nuts go perfectly with the wafers and chocolate. I could easily eat 50 of these things in every US State. Too bad I have no idea what this candy is called, even though I’m looking directly at the wrapper. (Ion Chocofreta? It’s all Greek to me!)
Do you have a list of the top 50 marathons by state, or a list of races you’d like to do? Do you have a list of the 50 best candy bars? Which list would you rather research and compile? Share in the comments!