New for the 2011-2012 marathon season: we've analyzed 75 of the top marathons in North America -- with 330,000 finishers and 50,000 Boston Qualifiers -- to determine which ones are the biggest, toughest, fastest, and more.
Beyond the numbers, we've got personal experience, having competed in many of the marathons listed here, a total of 85 marathons overall, to add credibility to the rankings.
Toughest: Boston is toughest of our top 25, but with a deceptively fastest overall time, being exclusive to the qualified marathoners. Among marathons open to all runners, Los Angeles, Disney World, Portland (Oregon), RnR San Diego and Marine Corps are most challenging, based on average finish times.
Noteworthy: Chicago's 4:43 in 2010 ranked it 6th toughest overall. For more, see our detailed analysis of Chicago Finish Times by Age Group.
Easiest: There is no such thing as an easy marathon. 26.2 miles is 26.2 miles, and competing in one is an awesome undertaking and an extraordinary achievement. But when it comes to faster marathon courses, Hamilton, Bay State, Pocono Mountain, Sugarloaf and Hudson River top the list.
And yes, we know very well that there are many, many smaller marathons not on this list that are wicked hard. We limited the analysis to these races, representing hundreds of thousands of finishers. For more see our Complete Marathon Coverage, and more detailed analysis, below.
Race Pace Examples: How to Qualify for Boston at Chicago Marathon
Predicting your full marathon time based on your best half marathon: Marine Corps Marathon example.
Average finish times by Age Group: New York Marathon example.
Average finish time by Age, year-by-year: PF Chang's Arizona Marathon example.
Impact of Weather on Average Race Results: Boston Marathon Example.
And more . . .