Top Marathons for Walkers

These marathons include those that are primarily designed for runners but also welcome walkers and have a cut-off time generous enough to accommodate walkers and run/walkers. They also include marathons that are walker-only.

Portland Marathon

Portland Marathon Crosses St. Johns Bridge - Full Size
Portland Marathon Crosses St. Johns Bridge. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Portland, Oregon welcomes 3000 walkers and 5000 runners every fall. The finish is kept open till the last person comes in, although those finishing in over 7 hours are sent on an alternate route the final 4 miles. It's great for first-timers whether you are walking or running.  I've finished seven times in Portland (always beating the cut-off). Then one year I didn't walk and instead I staffed the late finish as a volunteer. It was a treat to be able to great the walkers at the finish with a full selection of goodies, personally drape them with heat sheet and hand them a rose, tree seedling, medal and finisher's shirt. If you want to be part of a big marathon and still be treated as a winner whenever you finish, Portland is the place.

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Walt Disney World Marathon

Walt Disney World Marathon Start
Walt Disney World Marathon Start. Matt Stroshane/Disney Parks/Getty Images Entertainment

This January marathon through the Magic Kingdom welcomes walkers and runners from all of the charity marathon programs. The official time limit is 7 hours and it is strictly enforced. They fill their quota with over 13,000 walkers and runners months in advance, so be sure to register early if you want to do this one.

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Honolulu Marathon

Honolulu Marathon
Honolulu Marathon. Marco Garcia/Getty Images Sport

This marathon in paradise greets over 30,000 participate each December. The course is gorgeous the entire way, but it can be hot and humid. The start is at 5 am and they guarantee finish line services until 2 pm, which would be a finish in nine hours. However, they allow everyone to finish rather than sweeping the course and say they will maintain the finish line until 4 pm.

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Rock 'N' Roll Marathons

Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Starting Line - Full Size
Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Starting Line. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Competitor's Rock 'N' Roll series of marathons and half marathons are real crowd pleasers. And they draw quite the crowd - 30,000 for some of their events. They are held in cities across the USA and feature live music and great on-course support. The caveat is that only about half of their marathons are walker-friendly, with a time limit of 7 hours. Others have a runner-only time limit. In most cases, they also have a half marathon with a walker-friendly time limit of four hours. I've been in the final corral to start several times and time limit clock doesn't start until we do. The on-course support has always been great, and they often follow it up with a concert at the finish line and an after party. The registration fee is steep, but the quality is usually worth the price.

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TCS New York City Marathon

Runners at ING NYC Marathon
Runners at NYC Marathon. © Jared Wickerham / Getty Images Sports

Walk the Big Apple in November with 30,000 walkers and runners. The time limit is 8.5 hours, but walkers must move to the sidewalk after they drop below an average 15 minute mile (6.5 hour pace) and don't want to use the "sweep" bus to ride to the finish. The course goes through all five boroughs and crosses five bridges to finish in Central Park.

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MoonWalk - London - Edinburgh - New York City

London Moonwalk
London Moonwalk. Olga Bermejo/Getty Images Entertainment

These fun fundraising walks walk through the night for breast cancer charities. You can choose a marathon or half marathon distance. Walkers of all genders are welcome and wear decorated bras. It's a walking-only event, with no running allowed. It's not a race and is not timed. The London MoonWalk is held in May and attracts 15,000 walkers, and they have added an Edinburgh MoonWalk, held in June. They have also expanded to New York City MoonWalk, held in August. The entry costs are the same as for a typical marathon or half, about 50 pounds for the British walks and $79 for the NYC walk, with additional fundraising encouraged but not required. Walkers can form teams or come as an individual. Our readers voted this as their top marathon walk in 2013.

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Avon 39 - The Walk to End Breast Cancer

AVON 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer
AVON 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer - Aly Raisman and Eloise Caggiano. Darren McCollester/Getty Images for Reebok

Choose to walk a marathon followed by a half-marathon the next day, or a half-marathon each day. Walkers must raise $1800 in donations to participate. It is held in several cities throughout the USA. These walks are extremely well-supported, with many food and water stops, meals, and a tent city to spend the night.

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US FreedomWalk Festival

Jogger Passes Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument, DC
Jogger Passes Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument, DC. Sam Antonio Photography/Moment/Getty Images

This yearly walking festival is held in October from Arlington, Virginia and features a marathon-plus route (44 kilometers) that visits all of the memorials of Washington DC as well as great trails in Arlington, Virginia. Sanctioned by the IVV and IML Walking Association. The festival includes shorter distance walks of 5K, 10K, half-marathon.

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Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk

This yearly marathon fundraising walk is held in September. For 2016, the minimum fundraising required is $300. It benefits the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Running is not allowed as the walk does not close streets and is conducted on sidewalks. It hosts over 8000 walkers, who can choose from a 3-mile through a 26.2 mile route on the Boston Marathon course

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Victoria Phoenix Festival

This Canadian marathon is part of their walking festival held on odd-numbered years in April amid the blossoms in Victoria, British Columbia. The course is not closed to traffic. It is sanctioned by IVV and Canadian Volkssport Federation.

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Myrtle Beach Marathon

A friendly March marathon in South Carolina limited to 3500 runners and walkers with a time limit of 8 hours.

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Dublin Marathon

October Irish marathon with an 8-hour time limit. It's a major destination marathon for the charity programs and has a time limit of seven hours.

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Marine Corps Marathon

Scenic course around Washington DC in late October with 13,000 participants, but walkers must be on a 6.5 hour pace to beat the cut-off point at mile 17.5 and "struggler's bus" pick-up at mile 20.

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Maui Oceanfront Marathon

Walkers get an early start and have 7.5 hours to finish. They tout 26.2 miles of waves, whales, and mountain vistas. There is also a half marathon and 15K if you are bringing along walking friends who want a shorter course.

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Lake Tahoe Marathon

It may be hard to choose between all of the different events and races going on as part of the Lake Tahoe Marathon weekend in September. The Sunday marathon event especially caters to walkers, with an eight-hour time limit, "After that, the bears eat you!" This is high-altitude fun in spectacular scenery. But you will start in the dark, so you'll need a flashlight or headlamp.

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We Walk! Marathon

This yearly competitive walking marathon is held in May on the Lake Wobegon Regional Trail between Melrose and St. Joseph, Minnesota. It's a fun event that includes a Lake Wobegon costume contest the night before. Other distances include a 50K and a half marathon. The course for both the marathon and 50K is open for nine hours.

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Bataan Memorial Death March

Commemorate the memory of those World War II American and Filipino soldiers who endured or died the Bataan Death March with a 26.2 mile walk through the desert at White Sands, New Mexico. They have both Heavy and Light categories, denoting whether you carry a 35-pound pack or not. Military participants may register in the military category and wear BDUs, ACUs or their service equivalent uniform and only military-recognized boots.

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