Ask 10 runners what the best marathon in the world is, and you could get 10 different answers. Marathon memories are, to say the least, vulnerable to our own biases. Smash a PB in the Luton Marathon and (lets take a leap of the imagination here) it could be instantly higher on your list than London, where you forgot your lucky socks and that man was so rude to you on the Tube.
Thats why when we decided to name the worlds 10 best marathons, we went straight to the top. We collected the opinions and experiences of the staff of the seven international editions of RUNNERS WORLD (a report like this will appear in each). We all cast our votes, and even though we all run and report on international marathons for a living, we each added the votes of an expert from our country from inside the sport (in our case RW Contributing Editor Hugh Jones, the secretary of the Association of International Marathons and a former London Marathon winner).
We werent so interested in the elite fields; mainly the experience of the ordinary runner (of course, the two can be related: elite fields draw the TV coverage, which draws crowds, competitors and money to the race). Among other things, we scored the races for beauty, atmosphere and speed. And, hand on heart, we did nothing to sway the outcome. Read on, start noting dates in your diary, and, if you get your entry accepted for the worlds greatest marathon, in April, now is the time to be doubly proud.
Without further ado; the world's top 10 marathons:
1. London Marathon, April
2. Berlin Marathon, September
3= New York City Marathon, November
3= Chicago Marathon, October
5. Boston Marathon, April
6. Stockholm Marathon, June
7. Rotterdam Marathon, April
8. Paris Marathon, April
9. Honolulu Marathon, December
10. Amsterdam Marathon, October
The easiest option for running a European marathon is to book a package with a tour operator who can guarantee an entry into a race. The following companies offer packages for UK travellers for many of the above races: 2:09 Events 0870 3500 209; Sports Tours International 0161-703 8161; Nirvana 01670 859300.