2015 Fall Marathon Preview
Fun facts about each of the major fall marathons, and tips on how to get in next year's race.
We’ve curated fun facts about each of the biggest and most popular marathons this fall, and tips on how to get in next year’s race:
Chicago Marathon, Oct. 11
2014 finishers: 40,595
What to expect this year: A year after her historic 1984 Olympic Marathon win in Los Angeles, Joan Benoit Samuelson established a new course and American record at the Chicago Marathon in 2:21:21, which stood until 2006 when Deena Kastor set a new American record at the London Marathon. This year, Samuelson, 58, is challenging herself to run within 30 minutes of her 1985 Chicago Marathon finishing time, and Kastor, 42, hopes to break the women’s American masters record of 2:28:40.
Did you know? This year the Chicago Marathon became the largest certified sustainable running event in the world. With participant T-shirts made from 100 percent recycled polyester fibers and more than 60 volunteers overseeing trash collection at the event, the race received Silver Level Certification from the Council of Responsible Sport.
How to get in: Although general registration closed in the spring, the opportunity to run for an official race charity or with an international tour partner was still open as of mid-August. A two-part registration for time-qualified runners and lottery applicants opens in mid-April for the 2016 race.
Marine Corps Marathon, Oct. 25
2014 finishers: 19,689
What to expect this year: Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, this 26.2-miler that runs through D.C.’s most historic sites from Arlington, Va., to the Marine Corps War Memorial will have a ruby theme representative of the Marine Corps’ scarlet and gold colors. Runners will receive new ruby-colored shirts and a specially designed 40th anniversary medal. Plus, a Ruby Reception will be held the Friday before race day on Oct. 23 for those registered in the Marine Corps Marathon runners club.
Did you know? Oprah Winfrey, Drew Carey, The Bachelor’s Dr. Andy Baldwin, the Vice President’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and former Vice President Al Gore have all crossed the MCM finish line.
How to get in: The race is sold out, but the MCM Transfer Program offers the opportunity to obtain an entry from a registered runner who no longer intends to run. The 2016 lottery registration will open in mid-March.
New York City Marathon, Nov. 1
2014 finishers: 50,530
What to expect this year: Although under new leadership—Peter Ciaccia will be the event’s fourth race director in its 45-year history—not much of this iconic marathon through the Big Apple’s five boroughs will change. However, this year’s race will focus on youth, with kids’ running activities throughout race weekend and on race day.
Did you know? Since its founding in 1970, the race has consisted of 73 percent of first-time New York City marathoners. Out of that 73 percent, only 12 Americans have won their very first New York City Marathon.
How to get in: The race sold out months ago, but the opportunity to run for one of the race’s many official charities was still an option as of mid-August. Otherwise, registration opens in mid-January for the 2016 running.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon, Nov. 15
2014 finishers: 3,228 (35,000 total)
What to expect this year: Before running Sin City’s Strip at night, rock out to the event’s headline concert by Kid Rock. The Sunday night races, which include a new 10K distance along with the half marathon and marathon, begin at 4:30 p.m., just as the sun is starting to set. This year the Saturday evening 5K will also have a new start and finish line at the MGM Resorts Festival Grounds. Earn the Las Vegas Remix Challenge medal by completing both nights of running.
Did you know? Aside from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and ½ Marathon, the only other time the Las Vegas Strip is closed to traffic is on New Year’s Eve.
How to get in: General registration is still open for all events.
California International Marathon, Dec. 6
2014 finishers: 5,804
What to expect this year: With the qualifying window for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials closing on Jan. 17, the California International Marathon will be one of last realistic chances runners will have to earn a berth in the trials race on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles. Expect quite a few American runners chasing the qualifying times (2:18 for men and 2:43 for women, respectively) on this downhill, point-to-point course. Bonuses up to $2,500 will be awarded to those who meet the qualifying standards.
Did you know? The “fastest course in the west” is as fast as it ever was, but larger participation numbers have made the field much slower in recent years. Last year, the average finishing times were 4:02:49 for men and 4:30:46 for women, considerably slower than what they were in 1985 (3:29:22 for men, 3:53:18 for women).
How to get in: General registration will likely close by early September. However, guaranteed entries are available Oct. 1–16 for runners who have run within 5 minutes of their age-division Boston Marathon qualifying time in the past two years.