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The Fastest Marathons in the US and World

The fastest marathons are popular options for runners hoping to qualify for Boston or simply earn a new marathon PR. These courses come in all sizes and locations, making them surprisingly accessible for most runners. Finding a fast marathon course will set you up for maximum success on race day.

What does a fast marathon course mean?

A fast marathon course means that the course profile is either flat or downhill, making it “easier” for runners to run their fastest by requiring the least effort. These courses often have a high percentage of runners qualifying for Boston, but not always.

Where is the flattest marathon course?

In many cases, the fastest marathon have a net downhill course profile. However, some of the fastest marathons might not be downhill, but instead are very flat. Some of the flattest marathon courses are:

  • Erie Marathon in Erie, PA
  • Galveston Marathon in Galveston, TX
  • Lookmatters Gopher Attack Marathon in Regina, SK, Canada
  • Palm Beaches Marathon in West Palm Beach, FL
  • Skagit Flats Marathon in Burlington, WA

What are the fastest marathons in the world?

The Berlin Marathon is often considered the fastest marathon in the world – and for good reason. 8 world records have been set at this marathon! However, many of the other fastest marathons take place outside the United States. Here are some of the fastest marathon courses in the world.

  • Berlin Marathon in Berlin, Germany
  • London Marathon in London, UK
  • Chicago Marathon in Chicago, Illinois, USA
  • Tokyo Marathon in Tokyo, Japan
  • Dubai Marathon in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Lookmatters Gopher Attack Marathon in Regina, SK, Canada
  • Valencia Marathon in Valencia, Spain
  • Frankfurt Marathon in Frankfurt, Germany
  • Milano Marathon in Milan, Italy

How to determine the fastest marathons?

The best way to narrow down the fastest marathons is to look at the course profile. The course profile shares some key information: terrain, flat versus hilly, and if there is a net downhill.

Downhill and flat road profiles are often the fastest marathon courses. These marathon set runners up with the least resistance, and require the least amount of effort to complete. Hilly courses and trail marathons require significantly more effort to complete, which causes runners to run slower.

In order for a marathon course to be legal for world records, it can’t have too much downhill. However, for runners simply hoping to PR or BQ, these net downhill courses are usually their best chance.

Try running one of the fastest marathons in the US for your next PR or BQ. Here are the flattest, fastest marathon courses to choose from!

25 Fastest Marathons in the US

It’s nearly impossible to rank the fastest marathons in the US in a definitive order, however, just about all of these marathons rank near the top of the list. If you’re looking for a fast marathon course to set your next PR, any of these marathons will give you a huge advantage.

REVEL Mt. Charleston Marathon

  • Where: Las Vega, NV
  • When: April 6, 2024
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 37%

Hawaii Bird Conservation Marathon

  • Where: Hilo, HI
  • When: May 8, 2023
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 36%

Baystate Marathon

  • Where: Lowell, MA
  • When: October 15, 2023
  • Course Profile: Mostly flat
  • Boston Qualifying: 27%

Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon

  • Where: North Bend, WA
  • When: June 11, 2023
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 39%

Jack and Jill’s Downhill Marathon

  • Where: North Bend, WA
  • When: July 30, 2023
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 28%

Mountains 2 Beach Marathon

  • Where: Venture, CA
  • When: May 21, 2023
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 20%

Tunnel Light Marathon

  • Where: North Bend, WA
  • When: August 13, 2023
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 44%

Super Marathon

  • Where: North Bend, WA
  • When: June 17, 2023
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 17%

Cascade Express Marathon

  • Where: North Bend, WA
  • When: September 16, 2023
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 34%

St. George Marathon

  • Where: St. George, UT
  • When: October 7, 2023
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 15%

Steamtown Marathon

  • Where: Scranton, PA
  • When: October 8, 2023
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 18%

Newport Marathon

  • Where: Newport, OR
  • When: June 3, 2023
  • Course Profile: Mostly flat
  • Boston Qualifying: 21%

Grandma’s Marathon

  • Where: Duluth, MN
  • When: June 17, 2023
  • Course Profile: Mostly flat
  • Boston Qualifying: 17%

Wineglass Marathon

  • Where: Corning, NY
  • When: October 1, 2023
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 19%

Chicago Marathon

  • Where: Chicago, IL
  • When: October 8, 2023
  • Course Profile: Very Flat
  • Boston Qualifying: 15%

Sundance to Spearfish Marathon

  • Where: Spearfish, SD
  • When: September 10, 2023
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 42%

REVEL Big Bear Marathon

  • Where: Redlands, CA
  • When: November 18, 2023
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 39%

REVEL Big Cottonwood Marathon

  • Where: Murray, UT
  • When: September 9, 2023
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 27%

Leading Ladies Marathon

  • Where: Spearfish, SD
  • When: August 20, 2023
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 28%

New England Green River Marathon

  • Where: Greenfield, MA
  • When: August 27, 2023
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 22%

Mesa Marathon

  • Where: Mesa, AZ
  • When: February 4, 2023
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 22%

Towpath Marathon

  • Where: Cleveland, OH
  • When: October 7, 2023
  • Course Profile: Mostly Flat
  • Boston Qualifying: 11%

Mohawk-Hudson River Marathon

  • Where: Albany, NY
  • When: October 8, 2023
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 24%

California International Marathon

  • Where: Sacramento, CA
  • When: December 4, 2023
  • Course Profile: Net Downhill
  • Boston Qualifying: 32%

These races are some of the fastest marathons in the United States – but they’re certainly not the only ones. Finding a smaller, local marathon that is flat can often be just as good as one of the more well-known “fast” courses.

When searching for a fast marathon course, check the elevation profile. If it is a road race with minimal to no elevation gain, it’s probably a safe choice. When running for a PR or to qualify for Boston, marathons with any significant hills can make it considerably more challenging to meet your goals.

These flat, fast marathon courses are a great confidence booster. Sign up for one of these fast marathons for your goal race this year!

More fast marathons in the US: