World's Best Marathons

Ten travel-worthy races that make for truly memorable journeys on the run.

Doug Steakley / Courtesy Big Sur International Marathon
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Big Sur International Marathon

Considered the largest rural marathon in the world, Big Sur’s miles unfurl along northern California’s Highway One, a National Scenic Byway with stunning coastal views. The highlights are numerous, from starting on a downhill in a redwood forest and climbing two miles to Hurricane Point (a notoriously windy spot), to crossing the famous Bixby Bridge. Music groups dot the point-to-point course, including Taiko drummers, and race organizers encourage runners to bring their own water bottle in an effort to stay green. The race is capped at 4,500 entrants, but 11,000 people in total register for the marathon and the weekend’s other events: a marathon relay, a 5K and 21-, 10.6- and 9-milers. Organizers call the experience “running on the edge of the Western world”—and for good reason. April 26, 2015; 831-625-6226;

Where to Stay: L’Auberge Carmel, Monte Verde at Seventh, Carmel-by-the-Sea; 831-624-8578;