Blurred runners in the background shoot off from marathon starting line with banner overhead
(Photo/Suzanne Tucker)

2021 Will Be the Year of the Marathon: Here’s Why

Marathons have always been a popular challenge. But for 2021, they’ve become an especially historic event.

Depending on the marathon, “race season” usually fluctuates every year. Certain marathons always aim for spring (like the Boston and London Marathons) or even a certain date — like the NYC Marathon, held on the first Sunday of November.

But after the postponements and various race complications caused by COVID-19 over the last year, 2021 has looked very different. Namely, some — really most — of the world’s most historic marathons are happening back to back.

We’ve got everything you need to know about which marathons are happening when, which still have registration open, and why this year could be the best year ever for marathon runners.

Major Marathons in 2021

Major international marathons including the “Big 5” — Berlin, London, Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong — are all happening back to back within a 2-month period. And the biggest marathons in the U.S. — like the Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and NYC Marathons — also take place within that same timeline.

NYC Marathon Running Race
Athletes running in the 2013 NYC Marathon; (photo/Eduard Moldoveanu)

How did that happen? Well, race organizers have been making constant updates as to when they feel safe to welcome back a large field of runners in person. The Boston Marathon and London Marathon (usually held in April), and the Hong Kong marathon (usually held in early spring) were all postponed to October.

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Not only is this in-person, fall marathon lineup a big deal for elite runners, but it will also be a big deal for spectators.

And the hype around this year’s massive marathon schedule — whether its back-to-back nature was on purpose or a coincidence — is big. Even brands are stepping in, kitting out marathon runners and designing marathon-themed shoes to help celebrate.

Here are the biggest marathons to watch for in 2021, in order by race date:

Editor’s note: Most of the marathons on the list above have virtual race options this year. Virtual registrations are still open. 

More U.S. Marathons Happening: Register Today

Marathon Road Running Feet
(Photo/Pavel1964 via Shutterstock)

We are 30-60 days out from maybe the biggest marathon event in history. Here are a few U.S. 2021 marathons that are still accepting applications:

If you deferred registration for a marathon in 2020 or qualified in 2021 to run this year, best of luck. We’ll see you out there!

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Mary Murphy

Mary Murphy is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and serves as the leader of Lola Digital Media’s DEI Committee.

She has been writing about hiking, running, climbing, camping, skiing, and more for seven years, and has been on staff at GearJunkie since 2019. Prior to that, Mary wrote for 5280 Magazine in Denver while working as an outdoor instructor teaching climbing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and mountain biking at Avid4Adventure. Based in Denver, Colorado, Murphy is an avid hiker, runner, backpacker, skier, yogi, and pack-paddleboarder.