A marathon is a long-distance race where runners compete over 42.195 kilometers (26 miles, 385 yards).
The term comes from an ancient Greek story about Philippides who was present at the Battle of Marathon.
Reportedly, this athletic Greek ran all the way from the site of the battlefield to the capital city of Athens to declare that the Greeks had won.
Marathon running has become increasingly popular since its inception during the first Olympic Games in 1896.
In the United States alone, there are more than half a million registered runners who participate in marathons every year.
Running a marathon is no easy feat, after all, Philippides died after running his.
It takes months of training to prepare for such a grueling event.
If you want to take part in a marathon, then there are lots of events you can choose from, no matter where you live in the United States.
In this list, we will be covering a few of the best marathons that runners can register for in the state of Virginia.
- Locations: Charlottesville
- Date: April 9th
This is one of the biggest and most well known races in the state of Virginia with around 4500 participants each year.
There are three courses that runners can choose from including the main marathon, a half-marathon and a smaller 8k course.
If you are a fan of events with large crowds, then this isn’t the race for you, as the number of spectators is normally very limited.
What you will get from this race is some of the most beautiful and scenic running routes that Virginia has to offer.
Most of the race follows alongside the Rivanna river, and takes contestants past the numerous historic sites nestled in this valley.
There are water refill stations placed at even intervals along the course, and registration for each year normally begins in August.
- Location: Roanoke
- Date: April 16th
This marathon has been rated as one of America’s Toughest Road Marathons, and as such is not an event for the faint of heart.
While the contestants in the Charlottesville marathon will have a stunning view of the Blue Ridge Mountains looming up in the distance, runners in the race will get to see them up close.
Over the course of this race, contestants will have to contend with over 7,430 ft of elevation change as they run up the renowned mountain range.
As well as the standard marathon, this event offers courses for an ultra marathon, half-marathon and a 10K run.
This is a non-profit event, and all the proceeds go to local charities in the area as well as the national park.
The Blue Ridge Marathon is a Boston marathon qualifier, which means you can use it to register for this race provided you complete it within a specific time limit.
- Location: Roanoke
- Date: May 29th
This is another race that takes place in Roanoke, and another challenging course for runners that want to push themselves to their limits.
There is both a full marathon and a slightly shorter 25K race held at this event, which is based around Loch Haven Lake.
Only 300 contestants are selected for this race each year, and as such, it is best to apply early if you want to have a chance of participating.
The Carvins Cove Natural reserve is a stunning environment filled with natural beauty.
Runners will be challenged by the footpaths and twisting trails that both routes have to offer.
Both courses involve an elevation change of roughly, 3500ft, so be prepared for some serious uphill trekking if you do sign up for this race.
- Location: Covington
- Date: June 4th
If you are looking for something a bit more easy going than the last two events, then the Jackson River Scenic Trail Marathon is worth considering.
This race takes place mostly along the old Chesapeake and Ohio railway lines and as such is mostly flat, with only a few slightly uphill sections.
As such, this is a more relaxed marathon that allows runners to settle into their stride and admire the beautiful scenery this area has to offer.
The courses consist of a full marathon, half-marathon and shorter 10 -5k trails, meaning there is something for everybody regardless of their fitness level.
All of these routes will run parallel to the Jackson river, taking runners through scenic neighborhoods and enchanting woodlands.
This race is a Boston Marathon Qualifier and will make great training for serious marathon runners.
Location: Douthat State Park
Date: September 17th
This is a great race for bringing in Fall with a beautiful run through stunning woodland.
The longest trail that this race follows is 40 Miles long, but there are shorter courses for the full marathon, half-marathon and 6 mile races as well.
With so much to choose from, the running rampage offers something for all levels of runner, from beginners to seasoned cross-country veterans.
The loop will take runners-up 2,700ft of elevation before allowing them to descend again.
As such, expect some tough uphill sections for the beginning, followed by a refreshing descent that will give you a chance to take in the scenery.
- Location: Lexington
- Date: October 29th
This is another race that offers some truly incredible sights along its route.
Starting in the southern portion of the Shenandoah Valley, the Chessie trail will take runners all the way from the city of Lexington to the neighboring boom town of Buena Vista.
Along the way, runners can expect to see a wide variety of different landscapes as they loosely follow the Maury river and the old Chesapeake railway line.
As well as the main marathon itself, there is also a half-marathon and two smaller courses measuring 10k and 5k in length.
If you choose to run the whole thing, then you will get to see the whole trail twice and admire how the landscape changes with the evening sunset.
If you’re very lucky, you may even see a bald eagle along this route.
Date: November 12th
The Richmond Marathon will be celebrating its 45th running this year, and the organizers intend to offer the same incredible race day that runners have come to expect from this event.
Unlike lots of the other races on this list, the course for this one will mainly stick to the road.
As such, if you aren’t the best cross country runner, and want something a little more easy going, then this is definitely the event for you.
When you register for this race, you will be guaranteed a good experience.
The organizers have spared no expenses when it comes to providing regular aid stations, scenic routes and lots of extras for completing the race.
As well as the full marathon, there is also a half-marathon as well as a short 8K course to make sure that runners of all skill levels can take place in this historic event.
Date: December 4th
This race consists of 6.5 loops of a trail that starts in Riverview park and follows the path of the Rivanna river near Charlottesville.
It is a fairly flat course that makes it a good choice for anyone looking for an easier marathon that won’t require them to run uphill.
There isn’t as much choice when it comes to courses as there are only two routes, comprising a full marathon and a half-marathon.
That said, this is a very scenic run that will take its contestants around some of the most beautiful areas in Charlottesville.
It is a Boston marathon qualifier, so if you want to compete in that race, you can do so by completing the Rivanna Greenbelt within a specific time limit.
Location: Virginia Beach
Date: March 19th
For St Patrick’s Day next year, the classic Shamrock Marathon will be coming to Virginia Beach.
This event hosted by Yuengling is one of the oldest road races in Virginia and will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023.
The race starts at the Virginia Beach resort area and takes viewers all along the Atlantic Ocean before crossing the finish line at the giant statue of Neptune.
There are three racing events to choose from, with a 8k race run alongside the children’s event on the day before the main marathon.
On the big day, runners can choose between a half-marathon or the full thing, depending on their abilities.
Overall, this is a relatively easy-going and relaxing run that will allow contestants to admire the sandy beaches of Virginia.
As you can see, there are plenty of different marathons out there that are perfect for any type of runner.
Whether you’re planning to train for a local event, or just want to enjoy the scenery while running, these marathons should fit the bill perfectly.
If you’d like to find out more about what each of these marathons has to offer, then visit their webpages to see exactly what each course will entail.
Whether you’re a complete beginner or a marathon veteran, you are sure to find a race that will push you to your limits.