Here Are The 13 Best Fall Marathons In The US

Get inspired with these iconic fall marathons.

Fall marathons are extremely popular among runners because the mild temperatures allow for faster race times and the scenic autumn foliage is just stunning to look at.

Plus, depending on where you live, doing the bulk of your marathon training through the spring and summer months can be more feasible than through the winter as you would need to for a spring marathon.

For the most part, you can run your workouts outdoors more often than indoors on a treadmill as you won’t likely run into cold temperatures and icy and snowy conditions.

The longer summer days and warmer weather have their appeal, although running through the heat and humidity can also pose challenges.

So, are you looking for a fall marathon to start training for? In this guide, we will share our top picks for some of the best fall marathons in the United States so you can sift through them and choose the most appealing one for you.

People running a marathon.

The 13 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, and here’s why:

  • It is the largest marathon in the world, with over 51,000 participants in 2023!
  • You have the opportunity to run through and experience all five boroughs of the city including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and The Bronx.
  • The entire marathon course is lined with spectators to motivate you and help get you to that finish line.
  • Typically, the weather is great for fall marathon running.
  • It’s a great destination race for international runners, with a representation of over 148 countries and all 50 states in 2023.

It’s tough to get into the NYC marathon, as there is a lottery, so be sure to apply in advance for a chance to run this fantastic, iconic race.

#2: Marine Corps Marathon, Arlington, VA

Also known as “The People’s Marathon”, the Marine Corps Marathon is another one of the biggest marathons in the United States with over 23,000 runners in 2023.

It is a great marathon for beginners and routinely sells out early, so if this is your top fall marathon choice, make sure to register as soon as it opens. There is a lottery to get in.

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

  • It holds a deep meaning to those who have served the country or have loved ones in the armed services.
  • There is usually excellent weather and beautiful foliage in late October.
  • This historic route takes you past some of the most iconic monuments in Washington, D.C. such as the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Capitol, and the Pentagon.
  • It’s a pretty flat and fast course making it great for beginners and anyone trying to get a PR.
A scenic photo of Portland.

#3: Portland Marathon, Portland, OR

The Portaland Marthon is one of the best ways to tour Rose City, running through the most iconic neighborhoods and landmarks such as the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry and its famous submarine, the USS Blueblack.

You can also enjoy and participate in the Portland Cheer Challenge on race day. The 95 different neighborhoods take over their stretch of the course with music and decorations to boast their unique culture.

The next day, runners can vote for their favorite neighborhood experience!

Here are some additional reasons to choose the Portland Marathon:

  • It is a varied course with downtown views, neighborhoods, and outdoor landscapes.
  • It’s a fun town to visit with lots of things to do while you are there. 
  • There is a small town field size for those looking for a smaller race. This can be less intimidating and create a friendly atmosphere.

#4: California International Marathon, Sacramento, CA

The California International Marathon, commonly called the CIM, is one of the most popular marathons in the fall. It is a Boston qualifier and known as the “fastest course in the west” with its rolling hills and a “flat, fast finish.”

  • It’s a point-to-point net elevation loss course that helps you run a fast marathon time.
  • There is almost always perfect running weather.
  • A strong elite field chasing Olympic Trials qualifying times makes for an exciting race and helps draw a lot of crowd support.
  • No lottery is necessary to get in; 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 that boasts a big race energy with local charm. It is also a Boston qualifier for those looking for a fast time.

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 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 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

With stunny early-autum scenary, the Guthrie Wineglass Marathon is one of the best fall marathons in the US.

  • It is a flat, fast, point-to-point course and is great for qualifying for Boston or setting a PR.
  • It has a very scenic route that avoids a city’s congestion and hustle and bustle.
  • There is a fun finishing medal and swag.
  • After the marathon, there are tons of things to do and experience, including wine tastings, local breweries, shopping, or one of their world-famous museums.
  • It’s within striking distance of New York City for a trip afterward.
A city scence.

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

The Chicago Marathon is one of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors, and one of the most popular marathons in the US. Reaching the finish line in Grant park is on the bucket list of many new and experienced runners alike.

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

  • It is a World Marathon Major that will get you one race closer to becoming a six-star finisher.
  • It has a flat, fast course and is great for running a PR.
  • There is a large, competitive field, so you won’t be alone on the course; you will always have other runners to help push you.
  • There is amazing and motivating crowd support.
  • There are 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.
  • It is very well organized.

#8: Philadelphia Marathon, Philadelphia, PA

The Philidelphia Marathon has a beautiful and scenic course taking runners by historic landmarks such as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, picturesque waterfronts and vibrant neighborhoods lined with encouraging spectators. 

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

  • There is no lottery, which 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 your plans fall through, you can save your training cycle and choose this race, given its close proximity to NYC.
  • There is a massive party at the finish.
  • Its relatively flat course makes it a good choice for beginners running their first marathon or experienced runners looking for a personal best.
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 because it has something for the whole family to take part in with lots of fun activities.

  • There are more than 300,000 spectators cheering you on from the sidelines.
  • You get to run through two major cities in Minnesota: St. Paul and Minneapolis.
  • There is a full weekend of events with different race distances for the whole family to participate in, including the Diaper Dash, Toddler Trot, Half-Mile and Mile for kids, 5K, 10K, 10 Mile, Half-Marathon, Loony and Ultra-Loony Challenges.
  • There is a small field size of about 8,000 marathon runners at the start line.

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

The St. George Marathon is a must for the scenic views, cliffs and canyons of Utah. The magestic scenary throuought this race is motivation enough.

Other than the stunning sceneary, here are more reasons to run St. George:

  • It is a net downhill course that can help you qualify for Boston.
  • It is a well-organized race with helpful race organizers and volunteers.
  • It boasts great community support with enthusiastic spectators.
  • The small-town charm and positive attitude of the community give a supportive feel to the race.
A town.

#11: Charlotte Marathon, Charlotte, North Carolina

The Charlotte Marathon, also known as the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon is another multi-event weekend with something for everyone.

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

  • The early November date in North Carolina lends itself to optimal running temperatures.
  • Marathon weekend has events of many distances for the whole family, such as a half marathon, relay, and a Chick-fil-A 5K.
  • The scenic, very hilly, loop course will be challenging but enjoyable.
  • It is a certified Boston Qualifier.
  • It is a charitable event as your participation benefits the Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital.
  • There is great crowd support from the local community.

#12: Steamtown Marathon, Scranton, PA

The Steamtown Marathon boasts gorgeous fall foliage along its scenic course and gives you a big marathon experience, but with a charming, small-town feel.

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

  • A challenging point-to-point course will push you over the rolling terrain, yet a surprising number of racers hit Boston Marathon qualifying times because it has a net loss.
  • Small, manageable field size, with a limit of 3,000 runners, which cuts back on logistical challenges and crowds on the course.
  • The Steamtown Marathon is a charitable event that benefits the children and residents of St. Joseph’s Center, Scranton.

#13: Richmond Marathon, Richmond, VA

The Richmond Marathon, also known as “America’s Friendliest Marathon,” is another great fall marathon that takes you through scenic and historical Richmond, and along and across the James River.

  • The race course has a party atmosphere with bands and two “junk food“ stops.
  • There is a lovely riverfront finish.
  • It is a Boston Qualifier.
  • It is a beautiful loop course with great scenery and meanders through historic neighborhoods and river views. 
  • There is post-race part on the riverfront.
  • There are events of multiple distances to choose from, like a half marathon and 8K.

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.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.