Charity marathons, commonly known as “thons,” are wonderful in the way that they accomplish a dual-purpose, most of them benefiting health-related charities while promoting the health of the participants at the same time. Marathon participants typically put long, grueling hours, over many months, into training for the event, be it a full running marathon, a triathlon, a walk, or a cycling race. There are probably many moments where they feel like throwing in the rag (and many do), but training is made all the more meaningful when the end goal is to raise money for charity. Personal growth is certainly one vital aspect of a marathon, but so is fundraising for the charities they benefit.
It would be impossible to highlight all of the impactful charity marathons held in the United States, as there are just too many of them. A smaller, local event can be just as meaningful, albeit less recognized, than a larger one. If you’re looking to prioritize your health while contributing to a great cause, start by looking at the organized marathons in your local community. Then, consider one of these popular charity thons in America to suit your skill level and support a cause that’s close to you.
One of the most well-known marathons in the United States, especially following the tragic bombings in 2013, the Boston Marathon is the creme-de-la-creme of marathons for experienced runners. Think of it as the Harvard of marathons- runners must have a qualifying time from another marathon to even participate. Drawing approximately 30,000 runners annually, the marathon is one of the largest in the world and it supports at least 30 charities a year. The official organization for the marathon raises over $12 million a year, which it directs toward areas of need in the Boston metropolitan area.
One of the most buzzed-about cancer events in the nation, the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure marathon benefits breast cancer research around the world. Since its founding in 1982, the foundation has raised over $2 billion for breast cancer research. Races are now held all around the world, with 14 international races in 9 countries expected in 2017, and over 150 total across the globe.
As the largest cycling event in America (raising more money than any other cycling event for any other cause), Bike M.S. supports an excellent cause. Multiple sclerosis is a devastating disease of the central nervous system, often culminating in blindness and paralysis. It affects more than 2.3 million people around the world. With events held around the country, it is easy to find a ride and form a team.
It is only natural that the “happiest place on Earth” would hold a marathon to spread some of that positive energy to a noble cause. The event, which includes everything from a kids race to a full marathon, aims to both raise awareness and raise awareness for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Arguably the most well-known marathon event around the nation, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life is more than just a fundraiser- it is a celebration of the lives of all those who have been affected by cancer. Because cancer doesn’t stop, neither does your team for the duration of the event; a participant of each team is asked to remain on the track at all times. Last year alone, participants raised $406 million for cancer research.
Not feeling up to the physical challenge? No worries. There are plenty of ways to get involved in charity marathons that don’t involve much physical activity. Fundraisers are always looking for volunteers to cover tasks like handing out water, setting up the route, and working the registration desk.