Walkers voted from among the finalists for the favorite walker-friendly marathon. The finalists were nominated by readers and selected by our walking expert panel.
It rarely rains on this Portland, OR October marathon, although I was one drenched duck in 2010. "I don't call it a race, it's an event. I don't call them runners or walkers, I call them participants," says Les Smith of the Portland Marathon. It's a homegrown nonprofit, volunteer-run world-class race. There is no time limit - although later walkers get shunted onto the sidewalks on a walking course if they exceed the seven-hour pace limit. The finish stays open until the last walker crosses the finish line, gets wrapped in a heat sheet, handed a rose, crowned with a finisher medal, awarded a long-sleeved finisher shirt, and treated to the full range of edibles available to faster finishers. That's how they do it in Portlandia.
This December event is held in Dallas, TX. It has a course time-limit of 6.5 hours (14:50 minutes per mile pace), and organizers discourage anybody registering who cannot achieve that pace. After the cutoff, they do not report finish times or give finisher medals and certificates. Racers can complete the course but must move to the sidewalk and follow all pedestrian traffic laws. A nominator said, "Did not miss any support available to runners."
This late April marathon and half marathon in Oklahoma City, OK allows for an early start to give racers as many as 8.5 hours to complete the marathon. A nominator said, "It is a world-class event that draws and hospitably welcomes and supports everyone from the elite and seasoned marathoner to the novice walker. A humbling, uplifting and very memorable event benefiting the OKC Bombing Memorial. We run and WALK to remember."
This June event started in 1998 and was the first race of what became the Rock 'n' Roll series of marathons and half marathons, now operated by The Competitor Group. They feature bands on every mile of the course. The course time limit is 7.5 hours after the last corral starts. There are three cut-off points where slower racers get diverted when not on pace, but they are allowed to finish. More than 30,000 people are expected to participate in 2012.
This race is held in November in Columbus, GA. A nominator says, "Unique course starts and finishes on unique Avenue of Flags at the National Infantry Museum with outstanding uniformed soldier participation, then continues on historic Fort Benning and scenic RiverWalk, along Chattahoochee River. Attractive medals and coin." It is a smaller event with under 1,000 participants.