5 Biggest Marathons


London Marathon

If you're looking for a pleasant spring marathon and a scenic course, the London Marathon in April is a good choice. Another flat course, the London Marathon twists its way through historic sections of England's capital city amid a rambunctious crowd and party atmosphere. Getting its start in 1981, the London Marathon has a fast course that gives runners a good chance to set personal bests, and elite runners gain an opportunity for world records. More than 1 million rowdy spectators cheer on a field of 35,700, and in 2010, the record for finishers was set at 36,550. The total purse for the race is $295,000, with $55,000 going to both the top male and female runners and the rest going to the other top 12 male and 10 female finishers. Sammy Wanjiru set the men's course record in 2009 with a time of 2:05:10. Paula Radcliffe claimed the women's record of 2:15:25 in 2003.

The race starts in southeast London's Greenwich Park and winds its way through the city along the cobblestone streets by the Tower of London, along the River Thames and past the House of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. One unique aspect of the London Marathon is that it's a fundraiser for the London Marathon Charitable Trust. The trust grants money to recreational projects, and in 2009, the race raised more than 4.5 million pounds ($7 million) -- more than any other race in the world, thanks in part to the 100-pound ($155) entry fee.