If you want to run a fast marathon, you need to run on a fast course. Or so it's said. Lots of truth to that. A course without any hills is easier to run than a hilly course. Any hills or even rises after mile 20 seem like mountains in a marathon, like the hill at the golf course on the monkey marathon at mile 23. I think a course needs a few rises and falls, rolling hills at least to give your legs a break from the same motion. The Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Alabama is a "flat and fast" course. It does have a few hills, very minor. The year I finally qualified for Boston, I knew it was the day when I hit mile 17 or so and floated up and over the one major hill on the course. It only rises about 50 feet, not a hill by Tennessee standards.
I've run several of the fast marathon courses over the years chasing after that elusive Boston Marathon qualifying time. Kansas City was a DNF. Austin's old course wearing race flats, ouch. Kiawah had to many turns and I strained my calf. Country Music Marathon way to hilly. Chicago and Mid South marathon dehydration problems. Really the only course that wasn't PR friendly would be Country Music. But, its the local marathon, like the Flying Monkey, so I made an attempt.
Trent started a thread on the strider board with marathon elevations to the same scale. He pulled the information from Motionbased.com or really he probably ran most of them. This is really helpful to see the true rise and fall of the courses as compared to other courses. Below is the official, "flattened" out course map of the Flying Pig marathon and the Motion Based map. The official map doesn't show the several little hills at the end of the marathon. Pretty sneaky, huh?