Best Marathons In Wisconsin – Runner’s Choose Wisconsin’s Top Marathons

Whether you're a Wisconsin native or looking to make a visit to America's Dairyland, here are the top marathons runners recommend for the Badger State. 

Runners Goal Lights

Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon​

Sign up early for this popular point-to-point fall marathon because it fills up quick. A favorite for its mostly downhill course, marathoners also enjoy the race's organization and post-race festivities. Click here to learn more.

The Course

Starting in Grafton, Wis., the primarily flat course provides a change of scenery as it transitions from rural countryside to quiet suburbs to Milwaukee's downtown skyline. The race is also a Boston Qualifier. 

Lakefront Marathon

Image Source: Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon

Reviews

“The course is perfect for setting a time, regardless of the conditions. Point to point with very little to no uphill and a course that falls downhill most of the way. The wind is the only factor. Excellent organization at the start and finish takes care of all of a runners needs. I will run this marathon whenever I can.” — M.S., Marathonguide.com Review

Spectators were into the race; most cheered and yelled your name. Milwaukee was a fun city to visit; the locals were very friendly and there is a lot of fun food. The beer was amazing. I rate this marathon a 10.” — C.C., Marathonguide.com Review

Cellcom Green Bay Marathon

The Green Bay Marathon attracts Packers and football fans from all over for the race’s finishing lap inside Lambeau Field. There’s also a tailgating-themed post-race party in the parking lot where runners can enjoy a live band, brats, beer, root beer, bagels and fruit.

The Course​

According to the race’s website, the Green May Marathon course is considered fast and flat by race industry comparisons. Starting in front of Lambeau Field, marathoners go through the villages of Ashwaubenon of De Pere, over a bridge and along the Fox River Trail for six miles into downtown Green Bay before heading back to Lambeau.

Reviews​

“Exemplary logistics in every way. Plenty of gatorade/water on the course and three well staffed GU points helped with a hot/humid day. Corral system worked well. Lambeau field focal point a real plus. Food was plentiful and no wait, usually the half marathoners pick it pretty clean.” — R.R., Marathonguide.com Review

“I was most impressed with the volunteers. This was my eighth marathon, and I've never run one that included so many friendly people. The encouragement that they all offered made all the difference in the world.” — J.R., Marathonguide.com Review

Eau Claire Marathon

In addition to a beautiful course, proceeds from the race help support several charities, including Girls on the Run and World Vision. Click here to see the full list of charities and learn more about the race.

The Course​

Marathoners will run over 11 bridges that cross Half Moon Lake and the Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers as they make their way through the city and several local parks.

ONU Polar Bear Marathon

Image Source: Eau Claire Marathon

Reviews​

“The course is well shaded and scenic, for the most part (I remember a hot flat stretch around mile 13 or so). There are some hills and a dirt stretch at the beginning of the last 10k. The crowd support is great! I ran it in just over 5 hours and still had people cheering me on at the end. Definitely recommend this race!” — S. D., Marathonguide.com Review

The mile markers were huge; you could see them a quarter-mile away. Also, the after-race food was very good. Along with the water, milk, fruit, juice and yogurt, there were nice ham or turkey sandwiches. Everyone was so nice that I am glad I picked this race for my Wisconsin marathon!” — T.C., Marathonguide.com Review

Milwaukee Running Festival

This new downtown race shows off several Milwaukee neighborhoods and landmarks, including the Milwaukee Art Museum along the lakefront, Brady Street, Pabst Mansion and more. Marathoners receive a technical shirt, goodie bag, finisher’s medal and mylar blanket. 

The Course​

The course is a Boston Marathon qualifier and is completely run in the city of Milwaukee. Check the marathon’s website for course maps.

ONU Polar Bear Marathon

​Reviews

“The goal of this marathon was to show off Milwaukee, and it definitely achieved that! We went by so many unique spots, and I discovered new hidden gems that were new to me! The hills in the second half were challenging, but not unreasonable. The course was pretty consistent with spectators, although there were some lonely sections through the Hank Aaron trail, but overall I was impressed with the awesome, friendly people lining the course.” — Meg, BibRave.com Review

Amazing course and a great way to see Milwaukee. It was hilly so I wouldn't expect a PR. We had great weather for the first year, which isn't a given in November in Milwaukee, but I would strongly encourage checking out this race if looking for a scenic big city marathon.” — W.J., Marathonguide.com Review

Paavo Nurmi Marathon — Hurley

Named after the Finnish long-distance runner, the Paavo Nurmi Marathon is the longest running marathon in the state, held in the small town of Hurley in northern Wisconsin.

The Course​

According to the race website, the marathon is known “for the course that runs through forests and fields, along rivers and lakes, numerous hills and elevation changes, and passing a cemetery or two.”

Reviews

“The water stops were filled wonderfully with water, ice, sponges, cookies, gatorade, etc. These are the best stocked aid stations I have witnessed for a marathon.” — J.B., Marathonguide.com Review

This race was absolutely SUPER!! Gorgeous course but very challenging. Very hilly so train for it. Definitely a destination race! Loved the small town of Hurley and everyone is so friendly.” — A.V., Marathonguide.com Review

Icebreaker Marathon - Milwaukee

Avoid the winter elements with this indoor marathon. Held at the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee, the race follows an Olympic theme, offering runners who run both the marathon and half marathon a gold medal, marathon runners a silver medal, and half marathoners a bronze medal. Click here for more information.

The Course​

Marathoners will run approximately 94.9 laps around the indoor track, which is a thin layer of rubber atop concrete. Since the track circles an ice rink, the average temperature is about 55 degrees.

Reviews​

“One of the most well organized and run races I've ever done. The volunteers and spectators are awesome and having the availability of aid whenever you want is spectacular. Such a unique experience to see the leaders the entire race and have them encourage you along their way as well as being able to encourage them was awesome. The camaraderie before, during and after the event was unmatchable. I will definitely be doing this race again.” — Adam, Marathonguide.com Review

This is a really nicely run marathon with a great course and amenities. Going round and round is a bit monotonous, but the other runners and spectators make it great. The volunteers are also great. The race director really responds to runner requests, improving the event every year.” — D.B., Marathonguide.com Review

HFM Maritime Marathon - Manitowoc

Runners looking for lakeside views will find them with this small race that runs almost completely along Lake Michigan. Participants can stay warm in the University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc prior to the race, and beer and food are provided afterwards. Net proceeds are also donated to local charitable causes. Click here to learn more.

The Course​

The course is a flat, fast out-and-back from University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc to Port Sandy Bay in Two Rivers, sticking along the Lake Michigan coastline the majority of the race. You can watch a video of the course here.

ONU Polar Bear Marathon

Image Source: HFM Maritime Marathon

Reviews

“If you are like me and prefer smaller races over large ones, this is a really nice one. Volunteers were very attentive and friendly, the weather was perfect for runners, the little town was very welcoming to all runners, from the few hotels to restaurants and bars.” — S.F., Marathonguide.com Review

Don't mistake a small field for short on planning and organization though. The race director and all the volunteers did a phenomenal job with aid stations, port-a-johns, medical, course markings, post-race party, and the medal too. I would definitely recommend this marathon.” — B.T., Marathonguide.com Review

CenturyLink Whistlestop Marathon - Ashland

This fall point-to-point marathon in Ashland runs along an old rail trail paved with limestone gravel. A Friday night pasta and fish boil dinner is included with registration, and runners can enjoy local blues music after the race.

The Course 

According to the race’s website, the is a firm, flat, fast trail surface that “is much more forgiving on the knees than asphalt.” Runners will pass 10 re-decked railroad trestles, wetlands, trout streams, the Chequamegon National Forest woodlands, dairy farms and residential neighborhoods.

Whistletop Marathon

Reviews​

“Neat medals, great finisher jackets and cool trophies make for unique swag.” — Melissa, BibRave.com Review

If you love nature, you’ll love this course. … Whistlestop is a relatively quiet marathon because of the setting, and that was refreshing. The aid stations were plentiful and nicely spaced with fantastic volunteers.” — A.S., Marathonguide.com Review

Michelob Ultra Madison Marathon

Winding through the state’s capitol, the Madison Marathon provides complimentary race photos, a long-sleeve technical shirt and a free Michelob Ultra beer at the finish line.

The Course 

The marathon starts and finishes at the capitol building, with plenty of hills along the way, as you can see by the elevation chart. Badgers fans will enjoy running by the University of Wisconsin, including the Camp Randall Stadium.

Whistletop Marathon

Reviews​

“I recommend this race for people who want a challenging marathon. There are quite a few hills that will certainly slow you down, and the most challenging hill comes at mile 18 or 19. The course takes you all over Madison. It's a small enough race that there are no start corrals and we were able to hop up front about one minute before the gun went off.” — Jeff, BibRave.com Review

“Organizers designed for the half marathon to do the back half of the marathon course—so the marathoners run without the half racers, which was really nice. Two totally separate races, but I felt completely supported the entire time. Loved the addition of the 'PR bell' at the finish line, too.” — J.S., Marathonguide.com Review