Here Are The 13 Best Fall Marathons In The US

Fall marathons are extremely popular because the mild temperatures allow for fast race times and often more predictable weather than spring marathons.

Plus, if you run a fall marathon, you can do the bulk of your marathon training through the summer.

Depending on where you live, although summer running can pose challenges due to the heat and humidity, it is often easier to do your long runs and stick with consistent training with the extended daylight of the summer months and the warmer temperatures relative to training for a spring marathon through the winter.

So, what are the best fall marathons in the US to choose from? In this article, we will share our top picks for some of the best fall marathons in the United States.

We will look at the following: 

  • What Are the Best Fall Marathons In the US?
  • The 13 Best Fall Marathons In The US

Let’s get started!

People running a marathon.

What Are the Best Fall Marathons In the US?

The autumn season is one of the most popular times to run a marathon, and as such, there are hundreds of fall marathons in the US and even more globally that runners can choose from.

Because every runner has different preferences and needs in a marathon experience, choosing the best fall marathon for you is a matter of considering your priorities and marathon goals. 

That said, we have put together a list of some of the best fall marathons in the US by trying to select marathons that are well organized, very highly rated by finishers, and have different types of attributes to appeal to marathon runners with different goals and race preferences.

It is important to note that there are plenty of other great fall marathons in the USA that did not make it on this list of the best marathons to run in the fall, but that is more of a function of practicality since it would be nearly impossible to make a succinct, comprehensive list that covers all of the top fall marathons in the US.

An aerial shot of people running a marathon.

The 13 Best Fall Marathons In The US

Here are our choices of the best fall marathons in the US:

#1: TCS New York City Marathon, New York, NY

Almost every list of the best fall marathons in the world includes the New York City Marathon. Here’s why:

  • Biggest marathon in the world.
  • Opportunity to run through all five boroughs.
  • Entire race is lined with spectators.
  • Typically great marathon running weather.
  • Good destination race for international runners.

#2: Marine Corps Marathon, Arlington, VA

The Marine Corps Marathon is another one of the biggest marathons in the United States.

It is a great marathon to run in the fall and routinely sells out early, so make sure to jump on registration as soon as it opens if this is your top fall marathon choice. There is a lottery to get in.

Here are some of the perks of choosing the Marine Corps Marathon:

  • Holds a deep meaning to those who have served the country or have loved ones who have been in the armed services.
  • Excellent weather and beautiful foliage in late October.
  • Historical views along the Potomac River and of Washington, D.C.
  • Pretty flat and fast course.
A scenic photo of Portland.

#3: Portland Marathon, Portland, OR

Portland is a mecca for distance running, making the Portland Marathon a great marathon to run in the fall.

Here are some additional reasons to choose this race:

  • Varied course with downtown views, neighborhoods, and outdoor landscapes.
  • Fun town to visit with lots of things to do while you are there. 
  • Small field size is less intimidating and creates a friendly atmosphere.

#4: California International Marathon, Sacramento, CA

The California International Marathon, more commonly referred to as the CIM is one of the most popular marathons to run in the fall. 

Here are some reasons why:

  • Net elevation loss helps you run a fast marathon time.
  • Almost always has perfect running weather.
  • Strong elite field chasing Olympic Trials qualifying times makes for an exciting race and helps draw a lot of crowd support.
  • No lottery necessary; you just have to register.
A scenic photo of Sacramento.

#5: Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, Indianapolis, IN

The Indianapolis Monumental Marathon is one of the biggest marathons in the US every year.

Here are some of the top reasons to run the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon:

  • Surprisingly scenic for a large city marathon
  • Excellent fall foliage along the course, particularly in the neighborhoods
  • There is no lottery to enter the race (you just sign up), yet you have all of the perks of a big city marathon. This makes the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon a great alternative as one of the best fall marathons for runners who cannot qualify for or get into the New York City Marathon or Chicago Marathon.
  • A flat, fast course is great for setting a marathon PR.
  • Option for a half marathon on the same day, allowing couples or families to participate together if both are not up to running a full marathon.

#6: Wineglass Marathon, Corning, NY

Here are some of the main reasons why the Guthrie Wineglass Marathon is one of the best fall marathons in the US:

  • Flat, fast course is great for qualifying for Boston or setting a PR.
  • Very scenic route that avoids the congestion and the hustle and bustle of a city.
  • Within striking distance of New York City.
  • Fun finishing medal and swag.
A city scence.

#7: Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Chicago, IL

The Chicago Marathon is one of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors. It is one of the most popular marathons in the US.

Here are some of the top reasons to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon:

  • World Marathon Major will get you one race closer to becoming a six-star finisher.
  • Flat, fast course is great for running a PR.
  • Large, competitive field so that you won’t be alone on the course; you will always have other runners to help push you.
  • Great crowd support.
  • Lots of lodging options within walking distance, helping cut back on the logistical challenges of running one of the biggest marathons in the USA.
  • Routinely one of the best fall marathons, as rated by runners around the world.
  • Very well organized.

#8: Philadelphia Marathon, Philadelphia, PA

Here are some of the reasons why the Philadelphia Marathon is one of the best US fall marathons:

  • No lottery makes it a good alternative for those who do not get into the New York City Marathon.
  • Because it occurs a couple of weeks after the New York City Marathon, if you had planned to run that race but ended up getting sick, you can save your training cycle and choose this race given its close proximity to NYC.
  • Massive, big party at the finish.
  • Relatively flat course with a fair amount of crowd support.
Here Are The 13 Best Fall Marathons In The US 1

#9: Twin Cities Marathon,  Minneapolis, MN

The Twin Cities Marathon is one of the most popular fall marathons in the US for the following reasons:

  • There are more than 300,000 spectators cheering you on.
  • You get to run through two major cities in Minnesota: St. Paul and Minneapolis.
  • Full weekend of events with different race distances for the whole family to participate.

#10: St. George Marathon, St. George, UT

The St. George Marathon is less popular than some of the other races on this “Best Fall Marathons list,“ but there are many reasons to choose this marathon:

  • Stunning scenery of the mountains in southwest Utah.
  • Net downhill race can help you qualify for Boston.
  • Very positive attitude and supportive feel to the race.
A town.

#11: Charlotte Marathon, Charlotte, North Carolina

The Charlotte Marathon is not one of the largest fall marathons in the US, but it is still a great choice.

Here are some of the top reasons to love this fall marathon:

  • Early November date in North Carolina lends itself to optimal running temperatures.
  • Marathon weekend has events of many distances for the whole family.
  • Scenic, very hilly loop course will be challenging but enjoyable.

#12: Steamtown Marathon, Scranton, PA

Not all of the top fall marathons in the US are necessarily flat and fast, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t great options.

Here are some of the reasons to choose the Steamtown Marathon:

  • Challenging course will push you over the rolling terrain, yet a surprising number of racers hit Boston Marathon qualifying times.
  • Gorgeous fall foliage.
  • Small, manageable field size cuts back on logistical challenges and crowds on the course.

#13: Richmond Marathon, Richmond, VA

The Richmond Marathon is another great full marathon in the United States, offering some of the following benefits:

  • Beautiful loop course.
  • Party atmosphere with two “junk food“ stops on the race course.
  • Events of multiple distances to choose from.
  • Lovely riverfront finish.
  • Nice scenery along the course through historic neighborhoods and river views. 

Looking for a training plan for your next, or first, big marathon? Click here for our marathon training plan database.

People running a marathon.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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