Tag Archives: Peak to Creek Marathon

Best Marathons to Qualify for the Boston Marathon

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The Boston Marathon has long been the goal for runners. The tradition of the oldest U.S. marathon and the challenge to qualify leads thousands of marathoners each year on a quest for that coveted unicorn-decorated finisher’s medal.

In recent years, it has become more difficult to earn a spot on Main St. in Hopkinton for the start. For the 2013 marathon, the B.A.A. reduced the qualifing standards by five minutes for all age groups and the increased demand lately has led to some runners who have met their qualifying times to be turned away due to registration being full.*

With being accepted into the race not guaranteed, even if the qualifying times are met, it is important to choose a qualifying race that gives you the best chance to run your best. We have compiled a list of races that have demonstrated over the past few years (2014-2017) to be great Boston Marathon qualifying races.

Race Average BQ%
(2014-Aug. 2017)
 Average Number of BQs per Year 
Last Chance BQ.2 Marathon (IL) 50.3% 102
Last Chance BQ.2 Marathon (MI) 45.8% 51
LOCO Marathon 32.4% 52
Erie Marathon at Presque Isle 31.6% 407
Pocono Mountain Run for the Red Marathon 29.8% 170
Mountains 2 Beach Marathon 28.9%  520
Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon 27.1%  136
Baystate Marathon 25.3% 360
California International Marathon 22.2% 1,300
REVEL Big Cottonwood Marathon 24.2%  332
Peak to Creek Marathon 24.2% 69
Tunnel Lite Marathon 32.4% 117
**REVEL Mt. Charleston Marathon 39.1% 377
**Tunnel Vision Marathon 37.5% 107

* From 2014-2017, an average of 3,110 qualifiers who registered for the Boston Marathon  were not accepted
** Only 2 years of history

 

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The Best Marathons of 2016

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At FindMyMarathon.com we have compiled our list of the winners of the Best Marathons of 2016. Our lists are based on runner reviews, social media comments, and various input from the running community for races run in 2016. In the case of the Fastest Marathons and Best Marathon to Qualify for Boston categories, additional statistical data was used to determine the winners. In all of the categories, the races are listed in no particular order.

Several races appear in more than one category. The REVEL Mt. Charleston Marathon shows up three times in our lists (Fastest Marathons, Best Marathons to Qualify for Boston, and Best New Marathons). In addition, the California International Marathon, Big Sur International Marathon, Chicago Marathon, Boston Marathon, Akron Marathon, and Mount Desert Island Marathon all appear in two categories.

Best Marathons of 2016

Best Marathons of 2016

Narrowing down the Best Marathons of 2016 from hundreds of races was very challenging. Unfortunately, we couldn’t include every great race (and there are a lot). Our list is based on reviews from our site as well as from social media and running community comments, and other reviews. The list is in no particular order.


Best Mid-Sized Marathons of 2016

Like with the Best Marathons list, narrowing down the Best Mid-sized Marathons of 2016 was also very challenging. Our list is based on reviews from our site as well as from social media and running community comments, and other reviews. The races on this list range from approximately 500 to 2,000 marathon finishers.


Fastest Marathons

Our Fastest Marathons list is based on our PR Score for each marathon in 2016. The PR Score is calculated using an algorithm based on the course elevation changes, weather during the race, and the race elevation. Read more about our Marathon PR and Course Scores and view the Scores for all marathons in 2016.


Best Marathons to Qualify for Boston

Our Best Marathons to Qualify for Boston list includes races with both a high percentage of runners achieving Boston Qualifying standards for their age group and also having a high number of runners qualifying. In addition, runner reviews and running community comments are also taken into condieration.

View the BQ percentage and number of BQers for all marathons on our Marathon Rankings list or check out all Boston Qualifying races on our BQ calendar.


Most Scenic Marathon

The Most Scenic Marathon is based on runner reviews, course descriptions, and social media and running community comments.


Best Organized Marathon

The Best Organized Marathon is based on runner reviews and social media and running community comments about the race organization.


Best New Marathon

The Best New Marathon is based on runner reviews, course descriptions, social media and running community comments.


Please feel free to post a Review for any marathon you’ve run.
Leave Feedback.

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It’s All Downhill from Here: Ten Options for Downhill Marathons

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Over the past few years, the running community has witnessed a significant increase in the number of downhill marathons – races with a net elevation loss over the length of the course.  Whether it is just a result of the increase in the overall number of marathons in the last decade or an increased interest in runners seeking Boston Marathon qualifying-friendly races, there are more choices than ever for this type of marathon.

 

We’ve compiled a list of ten of these downhill courses.  The list includes a mix of new and well-established races, large and small marathons, as well as races with gradual and significant elevation losses.  In addition to these races, a comprehensive list of downhill marathons, as well as elevation charts for each can be found at FindMyMarathon.com.

All courses on our list are certified by the USATF and can be used to qualify for the Boston and New York City Marathons.

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Canyon City Marathon

Azusa, CA
November 7, 2015

High/Low Elevation: 5,816′ / 605′
Net Elevation Loss from Start to Finish: 5,211′
Finishers (2014): 624
Percent of Finishers Achieving Boston Qualifying Times (2014): 22.4%

The first on our list is the Canyon City Marathon.  The course starts in the Crystal Lake Recreational Area in the Angeles National Forest, winds its way through the canyon and finishes at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains in Azusa, east of Los Angeles.

The course boasts a dramatic drop in elevation – nearly a vertical mile from start to finish.  This elevation loss equates to an average downhill slope of 3.8% – approximately the same as the incline for Boston’s famed Heartbreak Hill.

In addition, for those not yet willing to take on the challenge of 26 downhill miles, the race has a companion half marathon starting at the marathon halfway point.

 

Freakin’ Fast Marathon
Boise, ID
September 5, 2015

High/Low Elevation: 6750′ / 2592′
Net Elevation Loss from Start to Finish: 4155′
Finishers (2014): 65
Percent of Finishers Achieving Boston Qualifying Times (2014): 12.3%

The Freakin’ Fast Marathon the smallest marathon on our list with 65 finishers in its first year.  Formerly known as the Bogus Marathon, it is one of the steepest downhill marathons in the United States with a net elevation drop of over 4,000 feet.

The course starts at the Bogus Basin Recreation Area and winds down the mountain to the finish in Boise, Idaho.  The race features a ten mile stretch from miles five to fifteen where the course loses 2,700 feet, an average downhill grade of 5%.  With most of the elevation loss occurring in the first twenty miles, runners will experience a relatively flat last ten kilometers.

 

Jack & Jill’s Downhill Marathon
North Bend, WA
July 26, 2015

High/Low Elevation: 2,603 ‘ / 521’
Net Elevation Loss from Start to Finish:  2,028′
Finishers: 2015 Inaugural

The Jack & Jill’s Downhill Marathon’s name leaves little doubt about what runners will encounter while running this course.  The race starts just south of the Snoqualmie Tunnel, a 2.3 mile railroad tunnel formerly used by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (don’t forget your headlamp).  The course follows the John Wayne Pioneer Trail and finishes on the Snoqualmie Trail in North Bend, Washington.

Lots of downhill races start at very high altitudes to achieve significant changes in elevation.   Fortunately for those runners who are negatively affected by higher altitudes, this is not the case for the Jack & Jill’s Downhill Marathon.  The course starts at a modest (for downhill races, at least) 2,600 feet and drops 2,000 feet to the finish.

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View from inside the 2.3 mile long Snoqualmie Tunnel just past the start of the Jack & Jill’s Downhill Marathon.


Peak to Creek Marathon

Morganton, NC
October 24, 2015

High/Low Elevation: 3,786′ / 1104′
Net Elevation Loss from Start to Finish: 2,682′
Finishers (2014): 234
Percent of Finishers Achieving Boston Qualifying Times (2014): 26.9%

Tucked away in the Western North Carolina mountains, the Peak to Creek Marathon has earned a reputation as a fast downhill course despite having a large number of switchbacks and twenty miles of dirt and gravel road.  In addition to over a quarter of finishers running under Boston Marathon qualifying times in 2014, the median finishing time of 3:52 is more than ten minutes faster than any other race on our list.

The course loses most of its elevation in the nine mile stretch between miles six and fifteen.  The average downhill grade is nearly 5% as the course loses 2,200 feet in this section.  This leaves a mostly gentle decline for the last eleven miles.

 

Pocono Mountain Run for the Red Marathon
Stroudsburg, PA
May 17, 2015

High/Low Elevation: 1,837′ / 442′
Net Elevation Loss from Start to Finish: 1,395′
Finishers (2014): 624
Percent of Finishers Achieving Boston Qualifying Times (2014): 29.1%

Of the races on our list, the Pocono Mountain Run for the Red Marathon boasts the highest percentage of finishers achieving Boston Marathon Qualifying times.  Nearly one-third of finishers (29.1%) in the 2014 race finished with times under the Boston Marathon qualifying standard for their age group.  (Update: 19.1% of finishers achieved Boston qualifying times in the 2015 race despite high race day temperatures and high humidity levels.)

Like other Eastern U.S. downhill marathons, the Run for the Red start is at a modest 1,837 feet above sea level.  Runners will experience a few uphills as the course drops 1,395 feet from the start in Pocono Summit down to the finish in Stroudsburg.

Tomorrow we will feature five more downhill marathons.

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Fastest Marathons in 2014

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Below is our annual list of the fastest marathons in the United States and Canada for 2014.  Seven of the races also appeared on last year’s list along with three newcomers. New marathons to the list include two races in the Revel series – Canyon City Marathon and Big Cottonwood Marathon – in addition to the Tunnel Lite Marathon.

What makes a marathon fast or slow?  We’ve developed an algorithm (Personal Record Score) to measure the relative speed of a marathon course based on several factors based on peer reviewed research as well as our own analysis of hundreds of marathon courses. You can read more about how the algorithm is derived here.

Find out more about each marathon by clicking on the race link.

Race Personal Record Score Boston Qualifiers
Percentage
Median Finish Time
Canyon City Marathon
Azusa, CA
110.80 22.4% 4:10:27
Peak to Creek Marathon*
Morganton, NC
106.04 26.9% 3:51:55
Leavenworth Marathon*
Leavenworth, WA
102.80 14.4% 4:18:38
Tunnel Lite Marathon
North Bend, WA
102.53 26.8% 3:59:10
Pocono Mountain Run for the Red Marathon*
Stroudsburg, PA
102.43 29.1% 3:53:35
St. George Marathon*
St. George, UT
101.81 16.8% 4:12:53
Winthrop Marathon*
Winthrop, WA
101.57 12.1% 4:30:25
Steamtown Marathon*
Scranton, PA
101.22 19.3% 4:02:16
Big Cottonwood Marathon
Cottonwood, UT
100.83 19.4% 4:08:55
Tucson Marathon*
Tucson, AZ
100.73 14.8% 4:16:50

* Included in Fastest Marathons in 2013

 

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