Top marathons for 2013

Preview the six World Marathon Majors of 2013-- a series of championship races that now includes Tokyo alongside Berlin, Boston, London, New York, and Chicago -- as well as a selection of races that offer something a little different.

Amsterdam's is among the flattest of courses, ideal for beginners, while Tromsø's Midnight Sun event takes advantage of the Norwegian nights (or the lack thereof). Turkey's Intercontinental starts in Asia and ends in Europe, while South Africa's Two Oceans links the African and Indian seas.

Tokyo Marathon
February 24, Japan
Registration: Closed. 2014 registration expected August 2013.

For the 2013 race, the Tokyo marathon is upgraded as one of the world's major champion races, World Marathon Majors. It draws around 30,000 mostly amateur runners.

Two Oceans Marathon
April 7, Cape Town, South Africa
Registration: open for online registration

At 56km/35mi instead of the usual 42km/26mi, Cape Town's annual race serves as a (relatively) gentle introduction to the world of ultramarathons. Both its name and its route refer to the Indian and Atlantic Oceans which meet at South Africa's tip.

Marathon International de Paris
April 15, France
Registration: Open

The Paris Marathon takes in many major landmarks contained within the City of Light, as the Champs-Élysées, Louvre, Bastille, Seine, and of course Eiffel Tower mark out its metropolitan circuit.

Boston Marathon
April 16, USA
Registration: Closed, although charity registration is still possible. Registration for April 21, 2014 is set to begin in September 2013.

Successful entrants to the Boston Marathon, one of North America's most prestigious, qualify via completion of a previous marathon within a set time. Eligible marathons are approved by the USA Track & Field association, Athletics Canada, or the Association of International Marathon and Road Races.

London Marathon
April 22, UK
Registration: Closed, though charity registration is still possible. 2014 registration expected late April 2013.

The world's third largest marathon in 2011 with 34,705 finishers, behind only Chicago and New York, the London event is also known for its fundraising, with major charities given a set number of entries which they then allocate to sponsored runners.

Midnight Sun Marathon, Tromsø
June 22, Norway
Registration: Open until capacity is reached.

The Midnight Sun Marathon commences, as one would expect, at midnight, and yet in full sunlight due to the endless daylight hours experienced at the peak of Scandinavian summer. Participants are advised to register before January, after which hotel accommodation for the race weekend becomes scarce.

Chicago Marathon
October 13, USA
Registration: to be announced

One of the World Marathon Majors along with Berlin, Boston, London, New York, and Tokyo. The Chicago Marathon came to prominence in the 1970s and '80s following the increased popularity of long distance running thanks to the New York Marathon and an Olympic Gold for the USA in Munich.

Amsterdam Marathon
October 20, The Netherlands
Registration: Starts November 12

Said to be an ideal beginner's marathon because of its flat route, and also one of the fastest marathons in the world for the very same reason -- winners typically finish in just over 2 hours 5 minutes.

Beijing Marathon
Date not yet announced, China

Held October 21 in 2012, the Beijing International Marathon is the largest and most popular marathon organized in China. Accredited with the IAAF Gold Label for Road Races in 2010, it has become one of the top marathons in the world, in terms of both organization and popularity, with as many as 30,000 runners taking part.

Berlin Marathon

September 29, Germany
Registration: Closed

The 2013 race reached its 40,000 capacity in three and half hours. The Berlin Marathon is a festival of long distance races over a fast, flat course. Prior to the main event there's an inline skating marathon, a mini-marathon and a children's Bambini Run on Saturday 29.

New York City Marathon
November 3, USA
Registration: Stay tuned to website for details

While its marathon was canceled this year due to Hurricane Sandy, New York boasts of the world's five largest recorded marathons in terms of number of participants. Places are allocated via lottery, with guaranteed spots for New York Road Runners club members, charity fundraisers, those who purchase an official travel package, and competitors who have successfully completed at least 15 previous NYCMs.

Intercontinental Istanbul-Eurasia Marathon
Date not yet announced, Turkey

Held November 11 in 2012, the intercontinental marathon takes advantage of Istanbul's Bosphorus-straddling situation in order to be the world's only marathon that starts in one continent (Asia) and ends in another (Europe).