Marathon is a town about 5 minutes south of Highway 17.  Originally named Peninsula (having to rename half the country, I guess the CPR was running out of names), Marathon was founded as a railroad town and once had a population of up to 40 000, almost all of which (according to Wikipedia) were men. The highway around Marathon isn’t particularly pretty.  Glimpses of Lake Superior ended around Terrace Bay. From here-on in, it is rocks and trees my friends.

Driving into Marathon you’ll see signs that warn you about forest fires, advise you of the town’s shopping amenities, and most importantly you’ll find out that Marathon is the home of Kris Wirtz, the male skater in the pair of Kristy Sargeant and Kris Wirtz which won a number of medals at the national level in pairs skating and competed at the Olympics and that I always get mixed up with Paul Martini.

Marathon billboard Kris Wirtz Ontario

When you’re famous in northern Ontario, you get a full fledged billboard outside of your hometown

Marathon is no disappointment in the awesome northern slogan race. “Built on Paper, Laced with Gold” is the latest phrase designed to capture the imagination, while “Marathon – Superior in the Long Run” is no slouch either.

Today Marathon is a town of about 3500 supported by a pulp and paper mill and two gold mines at Hemlo, thirty kilometers east on Highway 11.  Marathon is just north of Pukaskwa Park.  Marathon is one of the larger towns on the north shore of Lake Superior.  Marathon has a bit of a francophone community too.

Marathon is known for its pretty and geologically-unique pebble beach which is a nice spot for a picnic.  There is golf, fishing, swimming, camping and hunting nearby.  Lakeview Manor is a really nice bed and breakfast, while the local Travelodge looks pretty nice too.  It also serves at the gateway Pukaskwa National Park for most travelers.   As for other tourist things, you swim, picnic, fish, and hike.
With 3500 people Marathon has a fair amount of amenities, including a few motels, some restaurants, and a little mall with a Zellers.  There is gas both in town and just outside of town on Highway 17.  I saw the largest number of hitchhikers in Marathon – I counted a total of four in and around the rest-stops on the Highway.

Marathon - highway 17 highway 11 ontario

Highway 17 somewhere within 50 km of Marathon

There are diners and gas stations on Highway 17 just outside of town. If you really are short on time you can get food, drink, and gas on the main highway. (Marathon is not far off the highway.  For whatever reason, I remember driving maybe 15 minutes from the highway into town which has been disproven by submitted comments.  I must have been driving for too long, because Marathon is apparently only 4 km from the highway! So it’s not a huge hike or anything…so just, stop in.)

I didn’t take any photos so if you have any, or want to add to this page, please let me know by emailing me.  I’ve only been here once, when I turned into Marathon for some breakfast.  At the time, all I found open was a brand-new A&W which was apparently hosting a number of bikers who were grumbling about how far they had to come off the highway just to get some breakfast. (They must have been driving for too long too since it’s only a few kms from the highway.) My address is info (at) highway11 (dot) ca.