Are you gearing up for your first marathon experience in Amsterdam? Fantastic! This guide is your one-stop resource for all the information you need to complete your first Amsterdam Marathon.

Running your maiden Amsterdam Marathon is a significant achievement, and throughout this guide, I’ll walk you through each step to ensure you’re well-prepared and geared up for success in Amsterdam.

One of the first crucial steps is securing your spot. Registration usually opens in late October, about 2-3 weeks after the race has concluded. The non-refundable registration fee is €105.00.

I only entered in April of the year of the race so this is not a marathon that sells out immediately.

We understand that taking on the Amsterdam Marathon might seem a bit daunting initially, but fret not! With this handbook, you won’t have to navigate it alone. 

We’re here to provide you with EVERYTHING you need to know as a first-time Amsterdam Marathon participant. 

So, let’s get started!

A Brief Intro About The Amsterdam Marathon

The TCS Amsterdam Marathon is an annual marathon hosted in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It was first held in 1975 and has been an annual event in October, with exceptions in 1978 and 2020. 

The marathon features several races, including a Full marathon, a half marathon, an 8K race, a Kids race, and a Mini marathon. 

The course in Amsterdam is renowned for its flat, fast, and historically significant nature, and it starts and ends at the historic Olympic Stadium.

The TCS Amsterdam Marathon holds the distinction of being a World Athletics Platinum Label Road Race, ranking as the fourth fastest marathon in the world.

The Mizuno Half Marathon

The Mizuno Half Marathon is a prominent half marathon that shares many exciting elements with the main Amsterdam Marathon event. 

Runners get to experience running through Vondelpark, passing the Rijksmuseum, and, most notably, finishing in grand style at the Olympic Stadium. 

It’s the largest half marathon in the Netherlands, well-supported by enthusiastic spectators, and boasts a fully assisted route, making it a fantastic running experience.

The TCS 8K

The TCS 8K is a cool short race with a flat route that’s perfect for testing your speed over a medium distance. 

It initially follows the same route as the full marathon, taking you through Vondelpark and past by the Rijksmuseum, and then heads straight back to the Olympic Stadium for an awesome finish in front of the grandstand. 

They’ve got three different start times, so the speedy folks can take off first, and then the corporate runners and those looking for a more relaxed run can enjoy the course at their own pace!

The Kids Run

For the youngest participants, aged four to 13, there’s the Kids Run, covering a distance of 800m (0.5 miles). 

Starting near the Olympic Stadium, the route winds through the Olympic Quarter in a single lap, finishing alongside the canal. 

Along the route, there are also three mini-marathons available where children can run a 1K section of the official marathon route. 

It’s a fantastic opportunity for kids to be part of the weekend’s running festivities!

Note: This is a great opportunity to discover Amsterdam in a sportive way one day before the TCS Amsterdam Marathon.

Now let’s find out how to enter into the TCS Amsterdam Marathon…

How To Enter The TCS Amsterdam Marathon

Entering the TCS Amsterdam Marathon is a bit different from some other big races. There’s no need to wait and cross your fingers for a ballot. When the entries open, you can jump right in and register to secure your spot. 

Registration is done through the official Amsterdam Marathon website

But remember, it’s first come, first served, so you’ve got to be quick on the draw! Keep an eye out for the next entry date.

If you don’t want to leave anything to chance, there’s another way to get in. You can run for a charity. 

Why Should You Consider Running For Charity? 

Well, when you run for a charity, you commit to raising money for that organization, and in return, they guarantee you a spot in the event. 

Plus, they offer lots of support to make your experience top-notch. Here’s what you can expect:

  1. Help with fundraising, including materials and expert advice.
  2. Training support, with programs and tips on staying injury-free.
  3. A cool branded t-shirt to rock on race day, often customized with your name.
  4. A cheering squad to keep your spirits high during the event.
  5. Access to a post-race reception with food and a massage.
  6. A dedicated charity representative to answer your questions and guide you.

The goal is to ensure you have a fantastic time at the TCS Amsterdam Marathon and help you reach your fundraising target.

Now, here’s the deal with applying to run for a charity. You agree to raise a certain amount in fundraising, which varies depending on the race and the charity. For the TCS Amsterdam Marathon, the average is £300. You’ll also pay a reduced entry fee compared to general entries.

Choosing the right charity involves a few things to think about: the cause they support, the minimum fundraising commitment, and the entry fee cost. 

Some folks are passionate about a specific cause, while others weigh these factors carefully. Either way, running for a charity can make your marathon experience even more meaningful!

Grab your Amsterdam Marathon Training Plan Here!

The Amsterdam Marathon Course Highlights

Here are some of the highlights along the TCS Amsterdam Marathon route:

  • The Olympic Stadium. This is where the marathon begins and ends. It’s a grand stadium built for the 1928 Summer Olympics and restored to its former glory in 1996. Starting your race here, with cheering fans in the stands and fellow runners on the track, is a memorable experience.
  • Vondelpark. This picturesque 47-hectare public park is situated right in the heart of Amsterdam. You’ll pass through it twice during the marathon, offering a refreshing green escape with meadows, canals, and serene tree-lined paths.
  • Rijksmuseum. Founded in the 18th century, this iconic museum is a cultural gem in Amsterdam. The marathon route takes you right through the museum, allowing you to soak in some art and history as you run.
  • Amstel River. Leaving the city behind, you’ll follow the scenic Amstel River south for about 5 km (3.1 miles) to Ouderkerk aan de Amstel. On the way, you’ll enjoy the tranquility of the open countryside and catch sight of some iconic windmills.
  • Iconic Canals: As you make your way back towards central Amsterdam from the river, you’ll run along charming canals, cross historic bridges, and pass through urban parks. The city’s unique architecture and classic townhouses will be on full display.
  • Grandstand Finish: Finally, you’ll return to the Olympic Stadium to complete your marathon journey. Ending on the track of this historic venue, with the stands filled with enthusiastic supporters, is an experience like no other.

These route highlights promise a mix of urban and rural scenery, cultural immersion, and a grand finale that will make your TCS Amsterdam Marathon truly unforgettable!

Now that you’ve got the lowdown on how to secure your spot at the start line of the Amsterdam Marathon, let’s shift our focus to the most crucial event you should mark on your calendar before race day…

MUST-READ: Amsterdam Marathon Training: A Must-Have ESSENTIAL Guide  

The TCS Amsterdam Marathon Expo

The Amsterdam Marathon Expo is a thrilling three-day event that’s a must-visit if you’re prepping for the Amsterdam Marathon or just want to soak in the marathon’s vibrant atmosphere.

The international Marathon Expo, powered by Run2Day, will be held at the sports venue Sporthallen Zuid from Thursday to Saturday, and on the morning of race day. 

This is where you can pick up your race bib, and remember, race bib collection is also available on race day from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you’re running the full marathon, it’s a smart move to go on either Thursday or Friday to avoid potential crowds.

Keep an eye out for an email in early October with instructions on collecting your bib number at the Marathon Expo. You’ll find the bib number distribution point in Hall 3 at Sporthallen Zuid.

At the Expo, you’ll discover a wide range of top brands from the sporting goods industry showcasing the latest sportswear, running shoes, and other equipment at attractive prices.

With over 50 national and international exhibitors on site, you’ll have plenty to explore. Plus, the sponsors and suppliers of the TCS Amsterdam Marathon will also be present at the Expo.

But the Amsterdam Marathon Expo is more than just a place to pick up your race packet; it’s a hub of excitement where you can connect with fellow runners and fitness enthusiasts while immersing yourself in the pre-race buzz.

Attending the Expo offers you valuable insights, the chance to explore new running products and technology, and the opportunity to connect with a supportive community of like-minded individuals.

However, there’s a golden rule to keep in mind: avoid trying anything new on race day. 

While it might be tempting to try new products and nutrition at the Expo, it’s best to save them for future training sessions. Practice and get comfortable with them before risking them on the big race day.

Also, exercise caution when it comes to products like massage guns and recovery gadgets you might come across at the Expo. If you’re unfamiliar with these devices, it’s a safer bet to skip trying them out there. 

You want your muscles in top shape for the race, and using unfamiliar massage devices, especially if they’re too intense, can negatively impact your performance. So, it’s wiser to avoid them at the Expo to prevent any issues on race day.

Looking for directions to get to the Expo? Check out A COMPLETE Guide to Amsterdam Marathon Expo: Must-Know Info. 

Getting Around Amsterdam

The best way to get around Amsterdam is by getting yourself an OV-chipkaart, which allows you to use trams, buses, and the metro. 

You can easily top up this card with credit at various locations throughout the city, making it a convenient option to hop on and off different modes of transportation as needed. 

Alternatively, you can cycle. If your legs are up for it, you’ll find numerous private bike rental companies in the city that offer bicycles for a few hours. 

Avoid this if you are only arriving and hitting the expo on Saturday.

What Is An OV Chip Card?

An OV-chipkaart, often referred to as an OV chip card, is a smart card used for public transportation in the Netherlands. The “OV” stands for “Openbaar Vervoer,” which means “public transport” in Dutch. 

This card functions similarly to a contactless payment card and is designed to simplify travel on various forms of public transportation, including trains, trams, buses, and metros.

Here’s how an OV-chip card works:

  • Loading Credit. You can load credit onto the OV-chipkaart by purchasing travel credit or adding a travel product (like a monthly subscription) to the card.
  • Checking In. To begin a trip, you check in by holding your OV-chipkaart near the card reader at the entrance of the station or vehicle. The system deducts the appropriate fare from the card’s balance.
  • Traveling: You can travel within the public transportation network, switching between different modes of transport if needed.
  • Checking Out: Upon exiting the vehicle or station, you check out by holding your OV-chipkaart near the card reader again. The system calculates the fare for the journey based on the distance traveled and deducts it from the card’s balance.
  • Balance Management. You can check your card’s balance, add more credit, or renew travel products at various locations, including stations, retail outlets, and online.

You may notice that you are charged twice, both when checking in and when checking out. 

This double charge is to ensure that you are billed accurately for the distance you’ve traveled. 

This system allows you to switch between different modes of transportation during your trips without needing separate tickets, and it ensures that you are billed correctly based on your actual route. 

It’s essential to check in and check out correctly to avoid overcharging or balance issues with your OV chip card.

Where Is The Best Place To Stay For The Amsterdam Marathon?

Since the Amsterdam Marathon involves a 26.2-mile run, it’s crucial to choose accommodation that takes this into account. You wouldn’t want to walk long distances to your hotel after the race. 

Here are some hotels conveniently located near the Olympic Stadium:

Hilton Hotel Amsterdam

This hotel is conveniently located within 2 km (1.2 miles) of the marathon start line. Guests can enjoy comfortable rooms equipped with a 49″ HD flat-screen TV, minibar, and coffee/tea facilities. Free Wi-Fi is available in public areas. 

The hotel boasts an on-site restaurant, lounge, and terrace. Access from the airport is easy, with a 15-minute train or taxi ride.

Bilderberg Garden Hotel 

Situated less than 200 meters (0.1 miles) from the Hilton Hotel and a 30-minute walk from the start line, this 5-star hotel offers air-conditioned rooms with tea and coffee-making facilities and modern bathrooms. 

Guests can dine at the De Kersentuin restaurant, which serves French cuisine, and enjoy the cozy bar. 

It’s also conveniently located around a 15-minute walk from the PC Hooftstraat shopping area.

Olympic Hotel Amsterdam 

Located just 300 meters (0.2 miles) from the marathon start line, this hotel offers express check-in and check-out, non-smoking rooms, and complimentary Wi-Fi. You can relax in the garden, enjoy a drink at the bar, and dine at the on-site restaurant. 

The hotel is popular among cyclists, offering bike hire. It’s also relatively close to attractions like the Van Gogh Museum and Moco Museum, which are 3.5 km (2.2 miles) away.

Hotel Central Park (Dutch Design Hotel Vondelpark) 

Situated in the Oud Zuid district, this hotel is a mere 100 meters (0.06 miles) from Vondelpark. 

Free Wi-Fi is available, and the hotel is a 21-minute walk from the marathon start line and 300 meters (0.2 miles) from the Amstelveenseweg tram stop, providing direct links to Museumplein and Amsterdam Central Railway Station. 

Exclusive shopping at PC Hooftstraat is just a 20-minute walk away.

Hotel Twenty Eight 

Offering a unique hotel/apartment concept with spacious design apartments, this hotel features an on-site restaurant, sauna, and fitness facilities. 

The apartments are equipped with a fully equipped kitchen, a living room, and a luxurious bathroom. It’s conveniently located within 300 meters (0.2 miles) of the nearest metro station and the Olympic stadium. 

There’s also a direct tram to Museum Square and the City Centre right across from the hotel. 

Nearby attractions include Amsterdamse bos and Vondelpark, both 1.5 km (0.9 miles) away, as well as the Zuidas, WTC, and RAI within 2 km (1.2 miles).

The Pre-race Pasta Party

If you need one more reason to enter the Amsterdam Marathon, here it is: the evening before the race, runners gather at the Olympic Stadium for a unique experience. 

Picture this – a catering tent right in the middle of the track, serving up pasta to fuel you up for the big day!

You can secure your spot at this pre-marathon party when you register for the event. For just €25.00 (including one drink), you’re guaranteed a fantastic meal. There are three time slots available:

1. 16:30 – 17:45

2. 18:00 – 19:15

3. 19:30 – 21:00

It’s the perfect way to get into the marathon spirit!

Cultural Highlights

While Amsterdam may be known for its laid-back cafes and nightlife, the city offers a wealth of cultural highlights beyond that. 

Of course, the renowned Rijksmuseum and expansive Vondelpark are must-visit attractions, but we’d also suggest exploring the Foodhallen

This gem is a collection of food stalls and bars set within a converted tram depot, offering a delightful culinary experience in a relaxed atmosphere—perfect for unwinding after a long run.

The TCS Amsterdam Marathon is a fantastic opportunity to blend an exceptional marathon with a cultural city visit. 

The flat and fast course takes you through Amsterdam’s picturesque streets and into the Dutch countryside, making for a one-of-a-kind running experience. 

This event typically marks the end of the marathon season and serves as a fantastic way to wrap up your year of running.

Related: Amsterdam Marathon: What You’ll Find At The Water Tables

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With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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