The World’s Largest Running Events on a Map

The Guinness Book of World Records lists world records both of human achievements and the extremes of the natural world. This can be anything from the tallest living woman to the longest-airing sitcom—or the largest running events.

The world’s largest running events are based on the number of registrants, not distance. The 10 largest had more than one million people registered. And while not all registrants will complete the race, it’s estimated that between 80 to 85% do. However, that doesn’t mean these large running events aren’t also long, with distances up to 87.6 kilometers.

View Largest running races in a full screen map

1+ Million People Registered for the 10 Largest Races

Wings for Life World Run

At least 20,000 people have registered in each of the world’s largest running events. In total, it’s been over 3.5 million. Yet the top 10 make up nearly 30% of that.

  • Wings for Life World Run: 184,236 registrants
  • A Run for the Pasig River: 116,086
  • Bay to Breakers: 110,000
  • Cursa El Corte Ingles: 109,457
  • Royal Run: 93,620
  • Broloppet / Broløbet: 92,266
  • Vancouver Sun Run: 89,000
  • City2Surf: 86,696
  • Dam tot Damloop: 74,020
  • Hong Kong Marathon: 73,070

The 2021 Wings for Life World Run was the largest race in the world. However, that’s not surprising, seeing as the race is global. Participants from all over the world start running at the same time in support of spinal cord research.

The Philippines’ 2010 A Run for the Pasig River has also had registrants in the hundreds of thousands. At one point, it even held The Guinness World Record for having the most participants in a racing event. Previously in 1986, San Francisco, California’s Bay to Breakers was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest footrace.

It’s also worth mentioning that Copenhagen is home to both the Royal Run and Broloppet which each have seen more than 90,000 registrants. The Royal Run was held in May of 2023 while Broloppet took place in June 2000.

Speaking of months, specifically May and June, this is the most common time these large races occurred. In addition to Royal Run, May has also held Wings for Life World Run and Bay to Breakers. June, on the other hand, was the month of not only Broloppet but Cursa El Corte Ingles as well.

You’ll have to check out the rest of the largest races’ registrants and months on the map because we’re moving on to distance.

Largest in Distance

The world’s “largest” races might have many meanings. While in this case, we’re talking about participation, we also have information about their distances. So let’s see the longest of these, starting with the Comrades Marathon.

In June of 2000, the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa saw 20,047 participants run 87.6 km (54.4 miles) in the annual Comrades Marathon. While that participation may seem low compared to the Wings for Life World Run or A Run for the Pasig River, it’s also the only ultramarathon (any footrace longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometers) on the map.

Meanwhile, there are many (24) traditional marathons (42.195 km) with high participation from the Hong Kong Marathon to the Naha Marathon. Group the map by “Distance (km)” and filter by “87.6 – 30” to see them.

Where the Largest Races Take Place

We’ve mentioned the locations of some of the 10 largest races and longest races. But some countries are home to multiple of the world’s largest races.

  • United States – 20 largest races
  • Australia – 7
  • United Kingdom – 5
  • The Netherlands – 5
  • India – 3

More of the largest races are held in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world. Among the most popular cities are Chicago, which is home to the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle, Chicago Marathon, and JPMorgan Corporate Challenge. Philadelphia and New York City also put on two of the largest races each: the Broad Street Run and Philadelphia Marathon along with the New York City Marathon (held in November) and New York City Half Marathon (held in March). California also is hosts to two, albeit in different cities: Bay to Breakers in San Francisco, which has the largest participation of any U.S.-based race, and the Los Angeles Marathon in L.A.

Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and India also have multiple large races. Get insights into your data’s most common locations when you make a map with BatchGeo.