What is the Best Marathon for First Timers?

Choosing a marathon is as important as training for one, especially for first time runners. Races are not one size fits all; they are meticulously plotted to attract various calibers of runners. There are races that are dominated by speed, and there are races that are dominated by degrees of difficulty. First time runners do not just go out and race the Boston Marathon at the head of the starting line or attempt to run uphill in the desert in July.

There are many races that are designed to attract new runners who have goals beyond the finish line. Many of these incorporate fundraisers for worthy causes and feature great crowd support, flat courses and tons of fun on the road. This article lists a few of my favorite contenders for the best marathons for first timers.


The Walt Disney Marathon in Orlando in July is hot, but one of the best race experiences available. The crowd support is phenomenal and the course is nice and flat. Oh, and it courses through the happiest place on earth. The course is a loop that starts and finishes in the same place, meaning you don’t have to walk or ride back to your vehicle. Some humidity training may be required, but it is well worth the effort. This race features Disney themed medals, finisher certificates, and runners in costumes. Seriously, what more could you want from a race?

My personal favorite first race is the Ing Marathon in Long Beach, California in October. This race features a fast, flat course, bands and crowd support, a plethora crowd of more than 10,000 and beautiful ocean views along Pacific Coast Highway. October in California is one of the best times of year to run a footrace, as the weather is mellow and crisp.


Desert dwellers may prefer the Rock and Roll Marathon in Phoenix, Arizona in January. The weather will be cold, but the music on the course is hot! With bands stationed at every mile marker, the Rock and Roll Marathon has the true party spirit complete with a beer garden at the end of the race. Rock and Roll is also a traveling marathon, and is featured all over the country if you would like to consider subsequent races.

New runners who are not intimidated by hilly courses should attempt the Odgen, Utah Marathon in May. This race rivals others for the most scenic race in America, and offers screaming crowds of support for those who need the extra crowd push. The hills are not mountainous like marathon courses in San Diego or Big Sur, but offers a bit of a challenge for runners who like to change it up from the flat course races.

Whichever race you choose for your induction to the marathon finisher club, be sure that it is one you will enjoy. Local races are typically best for first time runners because they offer the training climate and terrain that they are accustomed to.

This article was written for RunnersGoal.com by Kari H., a guest author.