Big Sur International Marathon: California
The Big Sur International Marathon is largely regarded as one of the most spectacular marathons in the country. This Northern California run takes place along the breathtaking Highway One, winding its way from the redwood forests of Big Sur to Carmel's white-sand beaches. Spectacular Pacific Ocean views and towering sequoias provide the motivation needed to round every turn in search of that next picture-perfect moment.
Kona and Maui Marathons: Hawaii
What do the Kona and Maui marathons have in common? Simply put, they take place in paradise. The Travel Channel rates the Kona Marathon on the Big Island of Hawaii as one of the four most beautiful marathons in the America. Beginning and finishing at the Keauhou Beach Resort, the race follows a portion of the Ironman Triathlon, tracing along miles of lush coastline and black-rock beaches. On the island of Maui, the marathon starts at the charming town of Kahului and finishes at the Whaler's Village in the magnificent Kaanapali Beach Resort. The race, which covers more than 17 miles of oceanfront road, passes through sugarcane fields and the charming village of Lahaina, while offering impressive views of the Mt. Haleakala volcano.
Mount Desert Island Marathon: Maine
Deemed by ESPN as the "most scenic" marathon in North America and nicknamed "Big Sur East" by competitors, the Mount Desert Island Marathon off the coast of Maine gives runners a uniquely New England aesthetic experience. The race begins in downtown Bar Harbor and runs between the Champlain and Dorr mountains before passing the towering Cadillac Mountain. From here, the route soon traverses a series of sea cliffs and headlands along the Hunters Beach Trail. Seal Harbor, the Cranberry Isles, six charming seaside villages, breathtaking fall foliage and the pink granite of the Somes Sound fjord are all amazing sights to behold before crossing the finish line in Southwest Harbor.
San Francisco Marathon: California
Another Travel Channel pick, the San Francisco Marathon, full of iconic "city by the bay" natural wonders and landmarks, will truly capture the heart. Runners begin their journey at the Embarcadero below the Bay Bridge, racing past Fisherman's Wharf in order to cross and re-cross the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise, the city skyline sparkling in the distance. From there it is onto the Presidio, Golden Gate Park and the infamous Haight-Ashbury district. Lavishly renovated Victorian homes, with their ornate spires and balustrades, dot the entire course. After a stretch through the eclectic Mission district, the race ends at Giant's Stadium.