Marathon travel plans

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Marathon Travel Plans

Traveling to the world’s top five marathon destinations

Whether you’re running the race or cheering the athletes on, there are some important travel tips to keep in mind when heading to a marathon destination. We’ve put together some tips for marathon travelers who plan to hit one of the top five running cities worldwide.

Boston – April

Held on the third Monday in April, the Boston Marathon is the oldest and considered one of the most prestigious marathons in the world. In 2011 – the 115th year of the big race – almost 27,000 people entered the Boston Marathon. The weekend leading up to the race is a great time for visitors coming to Boston, but be prepared for some crowded streets.

Things to know about the Boston Marathon:

  • Several hours before racers reach the Back Bay of Boston, the area from the Boston Public Library and Hereford Street close to pedestrians crossing.
  • The North End – Boston’s Little Italy – is packed the Sunday night before the race with runners loading up on pasta.
  • If you’re in town to see more than just the runners, consider downloading the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Family-Friendly ValuePass. The pass offers discounts at restaurants, stores, museums and more.

London – April

Considered one of the most popular marathons, the Flora London Marathon is also a treat for spectators. Linda Vessa from ESPN Sports Travel notes that the “camaraderie between crowd and runners sets this marathon apart.”

Things to know about the London Marathon:

  • If you’re not familiar with London or the race route, it’s best to use the spectator routes guide provided by the London Marathon’s official site.
  • If you need a break (and a pint), stop off at one of 80+ pubs along the course. You can cheer the runners on, hear live music and enjoy food and beverages all at the same time.
  • According to the marathon’s official site, it’s best to avoid the area near mile 25 through the finish line if you don’t want to be immersed in an especially crowded area.

Chicago – October

Autumn may be the perfect time to visit Chicago – the oppressive summer weather has subsided and winter’s harsh temperatures haven’t arrived yet. More than 1 million spectators line the marathon route supporting the 45,000 runners. With so many people headed to the Windy City in October, it’s best to book your Chicago flight and hotel as early as possible. It’s worth it to compare Chicago hotel prices since many of them offer special rates for the marathon weekend.

Things to know about the Chicago Marathon:

  • Want to be the ultimate spectator? Join the 26.2 Curb Crew and from July through October, you’ll receive e-mail updates with maps, marathon-related tips and information on the race and other events taking place in Chicago.
  • It’s best to learn Chicago’s public transportation (CTA) routes along the marathon since this will be the quickest and most economical way of traveling through the city.

Washington, D.C. – October

The nation’s capital is more than just museums and historic monuments. Each year, the Marine Corps Marathon (nicknamed “The People’s Marathon”) attracts approximately 100,000 spectators. Catch a glimpse of the White House, Lincoln Memorial, the Pentagon and other notable landmarks as you move from place to place on the marathon route.

Things to know about the Washington D.C. Marathon:

  • Not sure where to watch the race from or how to get around the city? Check out these suggested routes from the Marine Corps Marathon site. Purchase a one-day Metro pass for easy traveling around the city.
  • Like other major marathons, hotels and flights are book up fast in the city, so plan ahead and make your plans as far in advance as possible.
  • Check out the Finish Festival when the runners have completed the race. The 2007 festival included a beer garden, an apparel store and more.

New York City Marathon:

  • Plan your marathon-viewing route since the race runs throughout the city. Travel easier and quicker by purchasing an all-day, unlimited MetroCard.
  • Take a break from the race and enjoy live music along the course.
  • The official NYC marathon site recommends viewing the professional runners (the ones that can run a five-minute mile) around Mile 14 and 15. Have a friend or family member running? A good viewing spot is around Mile 8 in Brooklyn.

No matter which marathon you choose to attend, remember that most cities will see an influx of visitors during the weekend of the race, which can mean less hotel and flight options, so make sure you plan ahead. This can be a great opportunity to really see the city, since you’ll be following the race all over, make sure you take advantage.

(Featured image: israeltourism)

Marathon travel plans was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Melisse Hinkle
Author: Melisse Hinkle (271 posts)

A New England native but explorer at heart, Melisse has traveled throughout North America, biked through rice paddies in Bali, seen the Northern Lights in Iceland, walked alongside llamas in Machu Picchu and made her way around Europe while studying abroad in London. She is the Head of Content and Social Media for North America at Cheapflights.