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In my opinion, this is a great topic but it does not fit on this website.

So I think that an objective criteria to compare marathons could be the number of participants.

So what are the city marathons with the largest number of participants by continent?

I would like to consider only the marathons available for amateurs (no requirements of qualifying times, only something like a bill of health).

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The largest marathons by continent, as of 2016, are:

  • North America: New York City
  • Europe: Paris
  • Asia: Tokyo International
  • Africa: Soweto
  • South America: Buenos Aires
  • Australia: Melbourne

(Source: ARRS.)

South Africa's Comrades Marathon would be considered, but it is actually an ultramarathon.

South America has a very big Sao Silvestre race in Brazil (New Year's Eve traditionally has multiple Saint Silvester races worldwide) but it's 15km, not a marathon, despite being listed as one in several places.

  • In the "interesting side note" department, the largest Japanese marathon used to be in Hawaii. Marathon running is a huge sport in Japan, but until fairly recently the major Japanese marathons (Fukuoka, Osaka, Beppu-Oita, et al) were invitation only and did not have mass-participation entry. Therefore, Japan Air Lines became a sponsor of the Honolulu Marathon, and for a long time the majority of the entrants in Honolulu were Japanese. I don't know if this is still true now that there are some mass-participation marathons in Japan, though. – pjmorse Feb 6 '17 at 15:42

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