Taking on a marathon can be a very DAUNTING task, especially if you’re new or perhaps not physically fit enough to be running for long periods of time.
If you are not fit enough to run or jog, then a walking-friendly marathon might be the perfect option for you.
Walking a marathon usually takes 6 to 8 hours (you can read more in our article “How Long Does It Take To Walk A Marathon“).
- As marathon walking becomes increasingly popular, more marathon races open their routes to walkers.
- For a marathon to be walker-friendly, there must be enough time for walkers to finish.
- Time limits typically vary from 6:30 to 8 hours.
- Since the pace of walkers varies greatly (from leisure walking to brisk), no one marathon suits all.
- If this is your first marathon, choose one with an extended time limit (7 hours or more would be best).
- If you’re wondering how long is the marathon, it is 26 miles and 385 yards (42,195 km).
Walking is actually a great way to get into marathoning! It will help build your CONFIDENCE as well as improve your fitness levels. It also allows you to enjoy the scenery along the route.
There are many different types of walkable marathons available. In this article, I’ll explain my top 10 picks for a walking marathon!
When you are ready to run, here is our list of the ten best beginner-friendly marathons in the US.
1. Walt Disney World Marathon
This is my absolute favorite pick! Can you think of a better or more magical place to walk around than Disney World?
The views from the parks are amazing and there are so many things to see and do.
You could even run through the Magic Kingdom and end up at Epcot which would be an awesome surprise for your friends and family.
This is one of the most popular races in Florida (it gets sold out quickly!).
The course itself is easy to follow. You just need to make sure you have good shoes with a good grip on them.
There is a minimum of 16-minute-per-mile pace (a total time of 7 hours).
The Disney marathon starts very early in the morning! They want to reduce the impact of the races on traffic in and around the parks. The start time is 5:00 am on a Sunday. The last runners/walkers start about an hour after the first wave.
2. Portland Marathon
Another great choice for a walking marathon is the Portland Marathon and especially the half marathon. This event takes place every year in Oregon and has been going strong since 1985.
There are a few climbs and drops along the route, but none is particularly steep or long. The route is scenic and you can expect plenty of people cheering you on as you go past.
Marathon begins at 7 am. There are no fixed corrals.
The full marathon’s time limit is based on a 15-minute per mile pace (a total time of 6:30). Which means a brisk walk or a light jog.
But the half marathon’s time limit is based on a leisure walking pace of 30 minutes per mile! So that is a much better option for walkers.
3. New York City Marathon
NYC Marathon is one of those big marathons that gathers tens of thousands of participants yearly. The relatively flat course makes it easier to go through.
The event starts at 8 am. There are multiple start groups, with the last wave going out around noon.
Sweep buses will follow the marathon route at 6-1/2 hours, at 15 minutes per mile pace.
After the buses pass, the city streets will open to traffic, and walkers on the course should move onto the sidewalks. The finish line will be open to late participants.
For the New York marathon, you need to aim for a walking speed of around 15 minutes per mile, which is not a leisure walking speed.
4. Honolulu Marathon
The Honolulu Marathon is one of the big marathons in the US.
This marathon is unique in that there is no time limit to finish, attracting many walkers (an 81-year-old woman walked the route in 16 hours a few years ago).
The start time is early in the morning (5 am), so there is still dark. Finish line services will be open late in the afternoon.
5. Los Angeles Marathon
The Los Angeles Marathon has been held each spring since 1986 (inspired by the 1984 Summer Olympics in LA). It is one of the largest marathons in the country. It gathers hundreds of thousands of spectators along the route.
The event has a maximum finish time of 6 hours and 30 minutes (15 minutes/mile pace, so it is a brisk walk).
A more leisure option for walking is the half marathon. It is a charity event with a massive charity program raising millions for participating charities.
6. Boston Half Marathon
If you’ve never done a marathon before then why not try something a little shorter like the Boston Half Marathon? This is a great opportunity to try something new without having to commit to a full marathon.
You don’t have to worry about getting lost because the course is clearly marked. There are hundreds of walking competitors at every single event, ensuring you won’t be left on your own as the serious runners take off.
7. Cleveland Marathon
The Cleveland Half Marathon is held annually in Ohio and is considered the fastest-growing half marathon in the US.
In addition to the full marathon, they have many other distances: half, 10K, and 5K.
The race starts off in downtown Cleveland and takes runners through some beautiful neighborhoods.
Cleveland is a city known for its architecture and art, and this race offers a unique chance to explore these areas.
The full marathon has a time limit of 7 hours. The half marathon course will be open for 4 hours. Participants who fall behind are required to move to the sidewalks. The finish line will remain open and be staffed beyond the time limits.
8. Shamrock Marathon And Half Marathon
This St. Paddy’s Day tradition in Virginia Beach, Virginia, has a race distance for everyone: marathon, half marathon, and 8K.
It is a flat and scenic course on Coastal Virginia, where you have scenes of the Atlantic Ocean. The post-race celebration is held on the beach!
Walkers are welcome in all the races. The full marathon cutoff time is 7 hours from the start of the last corral. For half, the cutoff time is 4 hours.
9. Seaside Full And Half Marathon
The seaside marathon is held every year in Ventura, California.
This race takes place during the summer months and has a very low probability of precipitation. Temperatures tend to be warm during this time of year.
The course is really flat so it should be a nice easy walk with the benefit of a beautiful view. Because let’s face it – who doesn’t like to be beside the seaside!
Walkers are welcome, as well as stroller moms and walking clubs. There is 7 hours time limit to finish the marathon (about 15 minutes plus per mile).
10. San Diego Marathon
San Diego Marathon has 3 distances: marathon, half marathon, and 5K. It is part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series, which has many events across the country.
The hills of San Diego are not easy for a runner or walker used to flatter terrain.
The time limit is 7 hours for the full marathon and 4 hours for the half, which means this is a walkable marathon.
As you can see there are loads of half and full marathons that facilitate walkers. So please don’t be put off trying one for the first time.
You can finish a half-marathon without training just by walking if the time limit is long enough (you have to be fit to walk anyway!). Or you can have walking breaks while running. For a full marathon, you need to prepare a little bit more!
If you are still feeling a little nervous, here are a few last tips for you:
- Search the race information and its time limits.
- When you know the distance and how long you’ve got to cover it, you can train for it.
- You can also check the finish results for previous years. If those times seem doable then why not give it a go!
- There are usually course maps with elevation profiles so you can get a general idea of the terrain to see if it’s flat enough for you!
If a marathon or half marathon seems too much, you can start with a fun run event, where people walk or run a certain distance without time limits for pleasure.
In case you’re already fit to run a marathon and gather the best bucket list races, here are the top 10 largest marathons in the US.