10 Of The Best Winter Marathons In The World

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Bundle up and hit the roads in these winter marathons

Winter weather doesn’t mean your running adventures should go on hiatus. Instead of mothballing your running shoes for six months, sign up for one of these awesome winter marathons and enjoy the cold instead of dreading it.

1. Seattle Marathon

Get ready for cold and possibly rainy weather in this hilly Pacific Northwest race that cuts through the heart of Washington’s “Emerald City.” With temperatures in the mid-30s to 40s and a good chance of winds coming off the Puget Sound, you’ll want to pack a windbreaker for this big-city marathon.

When: November 29, 2020
Where: Seattle, USA

2. La Rochelle Marathon

Expect balmy weather in the 40s or 50s at this seaside race in western France. Held in historic La Rochelle, a city with over 1000 years of history in its streets. The flat, fast course loops through the historic districts of the city, traversing cobblestone roads and skirting the edges of the Bay of Biscay.

When: November 29, 2020
Where: La Rochelle, France

3. Peak Snow Devil Winter Marathon

Pack the snowshoes for this one. This grueling trail marathon is held in Vermont’s Green Mountains in the middle of the winter, and snowshoes (albeit low-profile racing snowshoes) are mandatory. The course is a 6.5-mile loop, with each loop containing 1200 feet of vertical climbing.

There’s no better choice if you really want to test yourself against Old Man Winter, but make sure you’ve trained hard before attempting this race.

When: February 2020 (date TBA)
Where: Pittsfield, Vermont, USA

4. Topo Trail Marathon

Temperatures near freezing await on this trail marathon held just outside of Cincinnati. The course is 100% single track trail and includes some short and steep hills to test your grit in the cold temperatures.

When: December 6, 2020
Where: Ohio, USA

5. Johannesbad Thermen-Marathon

Expect snow at this marathon as you make your way through the residential streets surrounding this spa destination near the border with Austria.

After your race, warm up in the thermal spas and saunas of Bad Füssing and plan some day trips to see Bavaria at the height of winter.

When: February 7, 2021
Where: Bad Füssing, Germany

6. Mispo Winter Marathon

For something truly off the beaten path, check out the Mispo Winter Marathon in Vändra, Estonia. It will bring you to a little-visited corner of Eastern Europe at the beginning of winter, and after your race, you can grab some traditional Estonian Christmas food and see the snow-covered forests of the Estonian countryside.

When: December 4 & 5, 2020
Where: Vändra, Estonia

7. Der Frauenfelder

This Swiss marathon is unique in that it plays host to a military marathon as well as a civilian marathon. Service members from across Europe show up to complete the hilly marathon course in full battle dress.

Civilians start after the military members and follow the same course. With cool weather in a great locale, it’s a fantastic excuse to see Switzerland in the winter.

When: November 15, 2020 
Where: Frauenfeld, Switzerland

8. Zoom! Yah! Yah! Indoor Marathon

If the prospect of a winter weather marathon is a bit much, you could always run one inside. Northfield, Minnesota plays host to a marathon held on the indoor track at St. Olaf College in this idyllic mid-western college town.

Completing this marathon takes a dizzying 150 laps, but don’t worry—you’ll pass 600 aid stations en route! Lest you get tired of running counter-clockwise for the entire race, the entire field switches running directions every 30 minutes.

When: January 10, 2021 
Where: Minnesota, USA

9. Watchung Winter Marathon

This wintery trail run is about as low-key as it gets: no t-shirt, no medal, and no awards. Entry is dirt-cheap, and the course time limit is dictated by sunset.

Only 200 runners are permitted on the snow-covered forest trails of the Watchung Reservation.

When: January 2021 (date TBA)
Where: New Jersey, USA

10. Neujahrsmarathon Zürich

For a New Year’s Eve unlike any other, sign up for this midnight race along the Limmat River in Zürich, Switzerland. Pack your headlamp, because after the firework-illuminated starts, you’ll be traversing the riverside trails in the dark as you complete four 10.5 kilometer loops.

For a New Year’s Eve unlike any other, sign up for this midnight race along the Limmat River in Zürich, Switzerland.

When: December 31, 2020 – January 1, 2021
Where: Zürich, Switzerland

There you have it folks, 10 winter marathons that should be on your list.

Where’s your next race going to be? 

Related Articles:

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The Six Must-Do Marathons In Africa

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John Davis

John Davis is a runner, writer, and coach based in the United States. A graduate of Carleton College, he has been writing about running, health, and fitness for over four years. His own website, Running Writings, gives insight into scientifically-based treatments for running injuries and the training programs of top distance runners. His first book, Modern Training and Physiology, was published in 2013. Website: www.runningwritings.com Twitter: @JDruns


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