Tag Archives: Black Mountain Marathon

The Hardest Marathons in the United States

Blue Ridge Parkway Marathon
The challenging Blue Ridge Parkway Marathon in Roanoke, Virginia is one of the most difficult marathon courses in the United States

For most marathoners the quest is to set Personal Records (PRs) or qualify for the Boston Marathon. Often these journeys include finding the fastest marathon courses with the most favorable running weather.  For some runners, however, the goal is to challenge themselves on the most difficult marathon courses. These runners seek out the hardest courses in terms of elevation change, warm, humid weather, or run at a consistently high altitude.

We’ve listed the four most challenging marathons in the United States and Canada based on the race’s Personal Record (PR) Score*, elevation change, median finish times, and the lowest percentage of finishers running Boston Marathon qualifying times.

All races on the list are certified by The USATF and are Boston Marathon qualifiers.

Race Personal Record Score Percentage of Boston Marathon qualifiers Median Finish Times High/Low Elevation Difference
Black Mountain Marathon 90.85 0% 5:40:08 (2015) 2,879’
Blue Ridge Parkway Marathon 92.61 1.7% 5:11:45 (2015) 1,230’
Red Rock Canyon Marathon 90.81 3.9% 4:37:28 (2015) 1,107’
Kauai Marathon 89.12 3.1% 5:02:37 (2015) 803’

* PR Score utilizes the course profile, elevation, and typical race day weather to create a score that can be compared to other marathons to determine at which race you could expect to run faster. The higher the score, the faster the race.  Read more on our FAQ page.