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General Information and Strategy

There is no comprehensive source of information on speedrunning Bungie's Marathon trilogy. This page intends to correct that.

Aleph One

The open-source engine for modern computers is the most common way the Marathon games are played. Since M1A1 (the port of Marathon 1 for Aleph One) is based on the engine of Marathon 2, runs of it should not be accepted, as there are a multitude of changes to physics and enemy AI as compared to the original M1. For the later two games, it works practically identically as far as I can tell, with only slight differences enough to cause vids from the original versions to desync when played back through A1. Unless someone more knowledgeable on the topic says otherwise, I see no reason not to accept A1 runs of these games.

A note about the crosshairs: Aleph One has an option in the preferences to place a crosshairs onscreen. As this did not exist in the original versions of the games, it should not be allowed.

Aleph One has one notable bug: if you complete 15 levels in a row without dying, the game will crash loading the 16th - you will hear game audio but the screen will be completely black. This means you have to waste a little bit of time saving, killing yourself and reloading before you've finished 15 consecutive levels. This bug should be fixed in the next version of Aleph One.


For some reason (I suspect the framerate), a number of physics-based things work completely differently in the XBLA release of Marathon 2. As such, it is a separate category.


If playing the original versions of the games, assign your 'run' key to caps lock. Aleph One has an "always run" option, where running/swimming is on by default, and holding down the run key turns it off.

Types of Maps

If a level has no special requirements, you just have get to the end and you will be teleported out. Most levels have one or more flags for additional requirements. These requirements are:


Kill almost every enemy on the level, then go to the end to be teleported out. In Marathon 1, according to the Pfhorte Handbook, up to 8 enemies can be left alive.


Go to specific locations on the map (certain polygons need to show up on your map screen), then go to the end to be teleported out.


Certain items must be picked up before the level can be finished.


Certain switches must be activated before the level can be finished.


This flag is to make the player save as many BOBs as possible. It's meaningless for speedruns because even if you fail the objective, you can still leave the level.

Difficulty setting

Similar to how Halo speedruns are done on Easy and Legendary, only two of the five difficulty settings should be used for runs: Kindergarten and Total Carnage. The intermediate difficulties would make for too many categories.

Other Resources

Here are other pages that have maps and tips for many levels of the game:

Vidmaster Tips & Tricks page

Marathon Spoiler Guide

Major Tricks

The following tricks exist across all three Marathon games, though some work a bit differently in M1 compared to M2 and Infinity.

Grenade Jumping

Simple enough on the surface. Shoot an assault rifle grenade at your feet to get boosted into the air in exchange for about 60% of a full bar of shields. Firing the primary trigger on the AR at the same time results in a notably bigger boost. There are variants in exactly how this is done, depending on the situation, but you will always want to hold "aim down" throughout the jump. Tutorials exist for both M1 and M2/Infinity.

You can also grenade hop by simply firing a grenade down in front of you. You take no damage and get a tiny boost, enough to reach very short ledges.

links to come.

Marathon Grenade Jumping

Grenade jumping in Marathon is generally done while moving toward your destination. As mentioned above, fire the primary trigger along with the grenade to gain extra height and make jumps that are tricky/not possible otherwise.

Of special importance is wall climbing. By facing a wall at a slight angle and running forward, then firing grenades (again combined with the primary trigger for a greater boost), you can gain a faintly ridiculous amount of height with just two or three grenades, allowing large parts of some levels to be skipped.

M2/Infinity Grenade Jumping

The easiest way to get high grenade jumps in the updated engine is by facing away from your destination, moving forward for a short moment, holding down both fire triggers, then switching to moving backwards.

Grenade jumping out of water has different physics, since rising out of the water adds to your momentum, allowing for even greater height.


This one is very simple. Using both the strafe key and the move forward key to run makes you move notably faster.

Rocket Jumping

Similar to grenade jumping, but with rockets. If moving backwards while firing both rockets in the round, will gain about the height of a grenade jump, without taking damage. Also gives good movement speed. If you let the first rocket hit you, you gain much greater height and speed, in exchange for a bit less than two full bars of shields.

AR flying

In M2/Infinity, while moving backwards, aim down and fire both triggers on the assault rifle to fly horizontally. In M1, AR flying can be done while pointing in the direction of travel, but it's not as effective.

Running Punch

When you have nothing but your pistol, a running punch does significantly greater damage. On Kindergarten, it can take out fighters in one hit. On Total Carnage, it takes three.


There is a M1 only trick to rapid-fire the pistol/rapid punch. Quickly press the weapon switch keys one after another to reset the cooldown on firing. This might make the pistol actually useful in a speed setting. This works for every weapon, and could conceivably also be useful for the rocket launcher to very quickly fire both chambered rockets.

Note that the levels are numbered from 0 as this is how they're numbered in the "Begin New Game" dialog.

0: Arrival

A simple first level. On Kindergarten, just run straight through, punching any fighters that get in your way. A good straferun will let you jump over a good bit of the ledge leading to the maintenance tunnels. In the tunnels, take the route that isn't elevator-dependent, then keep going to the end.

On TC, you'll need to take the time to lure the fighter by the stairs away a bit so he doesn't block you (or kill him, if you can do it really quickly), then run up and trigger the fighters in the room with the pattern buffer, backtrack and wait for them to come down the stairs, then circle around the all and make a run for the door. Same path through the tunnels. On both difficulties, you may want to make a detour for the ammo in the secret room; if you're quick, you can pick it up and get back out before the door starts to close. Circle around the projectile fighters to reach the switch, then run for the end.

1: Bigger Guns Nearby

After grabbing the AR, return back the way you came and use a grenade to hit the switch for the stairs through the window to cut out a few rooms of travel and fighting (you can reach the ledge off of the second-to-last step, rather then waiting for the final one to rise).

The second part of the level is notably different depending on difficulty. On Kindergarten, you'll want to take the stairs between the two BioCore Vvents; it's maybe half-a-second slower than the grenade jump "secret", but preserves your health so you can instead use a grenade to skip the elevator to the exit terminal.

On TC, not only are the stairs much more congested with Phor, but trying to grenade jump straight to the final term is practically suicide. This time, you do want to use the "secret" route, then rush to the final room, using the primary fire of the AR to take out the Phor you need to kill (usually the second fighter in the zigzag hallway though you can sometimes slip past while shooting him, the projectile fighter in the straight narrow hallway should be shot as you approach to prevent him attacking, and the one on the spiral stairs immediately after blocking your way). The final room is very tricky. You can either immediately activate the elevator, praying you don't die in the process, then use some of your limited grenades together with bullets to take out some of the Phor on the ledge above as you go to the elevator, hope the compilers don't catch up and kill you as you wait for it to rise, then get to the exit terminal before you die; alternatively, slow down a bit to thin out the enemies first.

2: Never Burn Money

After you spawn, you can hit the action key twice to open the second part of the multi-section door out of the starting room a little faster. This is the first complete a task level. You need to collect all three uplink chips before you can exit the level. On Kindergarten, it's faster to make your way directly to the first two chips without recharging, then use the charger at the end of the level before grenade jumping onto the platform. On Total Carnage this is probably not feasible.

After recharging, head downstairs, pick up the two chips and the secret ammo stash, then go straight back up and to the elevator to the final section. Make your way through the enemies and use a grenade jump to reach the raised platform in the final room, rather than hitting the switch. From there, proceed to the end as normal.

On TC it may be worthwhile to detour through the secret door to "the pit" to get 3X shields, invincibility, and some extra AR ammunition, then grenade climb to the teleporter to return to the main part of the level, as this would give you a bunch of health to provide safety for the next few levels.

3: Defend THIS!

Another complete a task level. Though Leela tells you to install all 3 chips, you only need to place the one in the center door.

A grenade hop can let you get out of the crusher at the beginning a second or so earlier - face away from the door and run backwards toward it, then fire a grenade. You shouldn't take any damage from this.

4: Couch Fishing

Three task levels in a row. While you're supposed to activate three switches, you only need to hit one of them: the one closest to the end section of the level. Of course, you still need to hit the switch that opens the door to the end section. In the first part of said end section, well-placed grenades can hit the switches to raise platforms from a distance. Then, for the final three rooms, the first you can cross with a strafe run, and the second and third with AR flying to quickly reach the end terminal. On TC, you'll probably need to clear out a good number of the enemies, and you might want to detour for some ammo, especially the secret stash.

5: The Rose

The first elimination level. Use your AR and the ammo you've been stockpiling to mow down everything in your way. Leave as many hulks alone as you can, since they're major bullet sponges. On TC, killing everything but the hulks on the central platform in the upper part of the level is enough for completion, not sure for Kindergarten.

6: Smells Like Napalm, Tastes Like Chicken!

A task level again. You only have to hit the switch on the right side of the map to complete the level. For the right set of tunnels, the platform to leave the area with the switch takes so long to move, you can activate it, run to the switch, then get back just as it rises. For the puzzle with the blue and green platforms, hit the bottom switch on the right wall to raise the first blue platform, stand on it as it rises, then run across the already-raised green ones.

On TC, make a detour for the flamethrower - just make sure you get back on the elevator before it rises, or you'll be trapped and have to restart.

7: Cool Fusion

You don't actually need to get the fusion pistol, nor do you have to visit the polygon the fusion pistol is on, you just have to make it to the end terminal to exit the level. You can grab it if you want, but it's probably faster to get the one in G4 Sunbathing. Also, this level has the first wall climb in the run. After using the 2X recharger, you can wall climb up to the final section of the level. You'll be at low health, but you skip basically everything, including lots of waiting for slow platforms. On TC, be careful not to die as you make your way to the end. You might be able to run past the cloaked compilers and burn everything in the final room fast enough to read the terminal before they catch up and kill you.

8: G4 Sunbathing

Task level once more. For the first two sets of switches, it's potentially faster to activate the first four switches by dropping down into the lower area and hitting them with precise charged shots from your fusion pistol, though actually doing this is highly unlikely. Of the final set of four switches, the only one you need to hit is the one immediately left after jumping across the gap. Be sure to leave this level with full 2X shields.

9: Blaspheme Quarantine

09 blaspheme quarantine.png

This level is an exploration level, with only one polygon you're required to explore (marked above as stars on a grey background), which is at the end of a long series of hallways, teleporters and elevators (plus a door that takes over 30 seconds to open) that you run around, eventually returning to a hallway that drops down just above the beginning of the level. Normally it would be a nightmare for speedrunning, but fortunately we can skip all that by grenade jumping up to the trigger to open the door to the end level terminal. Your need to grenade jump up to the ledge you normally fall from after getting past the World's Slowest Door, using two jumps. The second part of this is unusual, since you are in a tight hallway with no room to move, and a player-height ceiling everywhere but the spot you need to jump in. Face away from the ledge above you, back up to the wall, and hold down both triggers. After two grenades (three total, so you're almost dead again), you'll be on the ledge. Back up a little, then move forward to activate the trigger for the final door. Make sure that you have viewed the second polygon, otherwise when you get to the end terminal you'll be greeted by a completely empty incomplete message, since the developers never expected you to be able to hit the trigger without seeing that polygon. Remember to recharge again before ending the level.

Here's a video showing correct and incorrect ways to do it: Blaspheme Quarantine skip

And another video showing a way to do the second jump with a single grenade: better Blaspheme Quarantine skip

The only difference for TC here is that it takes longer to clear out enemies to make room for jumping, especially since you have to do it without taking any damage.

10: Bob-B-Q

On Kindergarten, you can immediately grenade jump up to your right from the start, run through the corridor, activate the switch, jump on the platform as it rises and then into the corridor leading to the end of the level.

On Total Carnage, this level is pretty hard. When you spawn, you'll immediately be under lots of fire from Projectile Fighters, who will be joined shortly by Hunters. I think the best way to do it will be to run to the secret 2X charger, then backtrack and clear out the areas of the level you need to go through, then do the same grenade jump you'd do on Kindergarten.

11: Shake Before Using...

A straightforward level for a speedrun. AR fly across the trap platform. Try to keep those 3X shields as long as possible.

12: Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!

An AR fly across the lava pit lets you skip almost everything. On TC, lure the enemies in the final room in one direction, then a second AR fly (or a straferun) to the other entrance lets you slip past most of them.

13: Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap

A three-grenade wall climb lets you skip the pillars: video

14: Habe Quiddam

This level has the tightest-health grenade jumps in the run. It's a task level.

Before going through the lava out of the first section, use the 2X recharger. After going through, kill everything without taking any damage. Then head straight for the lava pit with the alien energy converter. Grab it and grenade jump out as fast as you possibly can. Now go back through the lava to the first section and grenade jump back up. You should have just a sliver of shields left.

For a slower but less crazily risky strat, you can hit the switch to lower the big pillar with a charged fusion shot, saving a grenade jump.

Recharge again, then a precise grenade jump will get you to the end terminal (requires two grenades, the second one hits the wall in front of the terminal as you approach, giving you the extra height you need).

15: Neither High nor Low

One more level that can be all but completely skipped. Precise straferunning lets you jump around the pillars separating the spiral stairs into sections, allowing you to head straight for the switch that raises the central platform. Instead of hitting the switch and trying to catch the central platform, you can also AR fly (2 grenades) from the top of the spiral stairs into the hallway. Make sure to grab the rocket launcher and the 3X shields before leaving. If you have the health, you can grenade jump up to the platform that has them, otherwise run around and take the elevator.

16: Pfhor Your Eyes Only...

The first true exploration level. Thanks to the magic of map editors, we know what polygons require being viewed to allow for exiting the level. Those marked in grey with yellow stars on the image below need to appear on your map before you can leave.

Phor your eyes only.png

17: No Artificial Colors

After taking the elevator up, go left and snipe the switch to open up the area to the right, where you can grenade or rocket jump through the window to reach the raised platform that will lower the wall. Note that in the tunnels, four of the polygon sections lower barriers leading to the later section of the level. Only the first of these, right by the entrance, is truly necessary, but going back will then require a series of grenade/rocket jumps. In the area with the big square pit, a grenade or rocket jump can cut out circling all the way around then back to reach the teleporter.

18: Unpfhorgiven

Same deal as level 16.


19: Two Times Two Equals...

Again the same.

Two times two equals.png

Note that in low-gravity levels, you can use the alien weapon or flamethrower to gain elevation, letting you skip over the very top section of the map as long as you remember to view the narrow walkway.

20: Beware of Low-Flying Defense Drones...

Either charge straight to the end, or make a slight detour (probably worthwhile on TC) to grab the 3X shields, some ammo, and the invincibility.

21: Eupfhoria

Same as the last three Pfhor levels.


22: Pfhoraphobia

This is an extermination level, as well as exploration. Kill them.


23: Ain't Got Time Pfhor This

At the very beginning of the level, you can drop into the first plasma pit, walk to the right, then fly back up with the flamethrower or alien weapon to the end of the next hallway to skip some running around. Before going to the end, you need to activate the two switches in the large central room. When it comes to hitting the switches, keep in mind that grenades in these levels are essentially unaffected by gravity. After you have hit both, run to the other end of the large room and take the teleporter, which will deposit you near the window you leave from.

24: Welcome To The Revolution...

A grenade jump skips the switch to raise the stairs in the lava room.

In the final room, you can rocket jump or grenade climb to the exit terminal.

25: Try Again

Extermination. Use those rockets. Note that the Juggernauts are invincible to bullet fire (from the pistol and AR primary fire). Short of rockets, the most effective weapon by far for killing them is the alien weapon. Unloading an entire alien weapon plus one rocket into a Juggernaut will kill it on Kindergarten, which might actually be faster than the 4 rockets it otherwise takes. If you don't have an alien weapon or rockets, the fusion pistol is probably the next best option. Use primary fire until only one shot remains, then fire a charged shot -- you'll get more damage without using any extra ammo. Remember not to be too close to the Juggernauts when they die -- it hurts.

26: Ingue Ferroque

You can rocket jump straight from the start to the end. Stand with your left side to the wall, facing the right edge of the 3X charger, fire a rocket straight ahead, then fire another one downwards to give you the extra height to reach the ledge from which you can jump to the ending terminal. This can be tricky, but if you mess up you can just fill up your 3X shields again and retry.

Marathon 2: Durandal

Waterloo Waterpark

On Kindergarten, you can go straight to your destinations, then loop back to the exit term.

For a TC run, you'll want to fall into the left of the two rooms at the start, jump across to the elevator and take the secret passage, grab the AR and nearby ammo, then install the two chips as you head for the end.

Slings And Arrows Of Outrageous Fortune

An easy get to the end level. On TC, perhaps make a small detour for the secret fusion pistol.

Charon Doesn't Make Change

Another straightforward level. Nothing in particular to note.

What About Bob?

The first real hurdle of the run. This is an extermination level, which is a problem, because if enemies get left behind in the lower section after you raise the lava, they won't be killed of they're in the first few rooms, so you need to kill them as you go. AR flying and grenade hopping can be used to cut off circling around to break the circuits.

Come And Take Your Medicine

A short level. Make a run straight for the circuits, then straight back. On TC, you'll need to go a bit slower and take out the enemies.

Note the of the three circuits in the second room, only the middle one needs to be destroyed. The others affect things elsewhere in the level.

We're Everywhere

Immediately AR fly off towards the elevator. You'll most likely hit something, but it should still save some time. Go up, take out the few hunters in your way, destroy the circuit panel, then get to the exit.

Ex Cathedra

On TC, this level will probably get messy, what with the dozen or so troopers lobbing grenades at you. Hit the secret switch, grab the chip, place it, then go to the end, hopefully catching the final elevator on a good part of its cycle.

Nuke And Pave

An AR fly across the large expanse of lava takes you straight to the room where you need to grenade the switch, skipping over much of the level.

Curiouser And Curiouser

The enemies will clog up quite a bit on your way out from destroying the second switch. For the final section with the pillars, you can AR fly over the gaps to skip hitting the switches. You can also AR fly directly from the left ledge to the right one, though it's tricky to pull off.

Eat It, Vid Boi

There are a few things to note about this level. Firstly, a couple short AR flys can shave off seconds when hitting the switches in the lava area. Second, the final switch in the "sequence" of switches in the level does not need to be hit (the one in the lava room with the 2X recharger and the fusion pistol). The switch to access that room, however, does, but it can be activated through the pillar it's hiding behind. Finally, a grenade jump out of the lava in the first room can get you a secret rocket launcher and flamethrower.

The Hard Stuff Rules

An exploration level here. The polygon you have to step on (unlike M1, M2 and Infinity require you to walk onto any "must be explored" ploys) is located just outside the room with all the terminals. Go there, then go to the nearest exit term.

Bob's Big Date

Another exploration level. This time, the required polys are a bit in front of the two terminals you are supposed to read. Obviously, actually reading those terms is unnecessary. Make sure you leave with yellow shields.

6000 Feet Under

The one level where your spawn location makes a big difference on your time. If you get the second-worst spawn (on the lowest level but in the main room with many ledges), you can fire a grenade while in midair to push yourself over so you land on a higher ledge. After leaving this room, you can rocket or grenade jump to skip the rest of the level.

If I Had A Rocket Launcher, I'd Make Someone Pay

Get into the upper area via some kind of explosive, then run to the end. On TC, the rocket launcher from Vid Boi can help clearing out the ledge so you aren't destroyed by the multiple troopers. A rocket jump (the non-painful kind, as you want to save your shields) can cut out some of waiting for the final door to lower.

Sorry Don't Make It So

Interestingly enough, this is tagged as an extermination level. Fortunately for us, the required kills are either extraordinarily low, or Bungie messed up somewhere, as getting to the exit term is enough to end the level. Go through the first openable door as a shortcut to the plasma swim area. Once there, you can (if you have the shields) swim straight to the exit.

For Carnage, Apply Within

Hint: use the map to quickly identify your starting location. On Kindergarten, you can make a run straight for the end. On TC, that's pretty much suicide, so instead run to the 2X recharger/pattern buffer and grenade jump from there up to the door to the exit room, grabbing the yellow canister and ammo before leaving the level.

Begging for Mercy Makes Me Angry

Again, you'll want to immediately bring up the map. Make sure you memorize the order the doors and wires open up in. The rocket launcher is your friend: on Kindergarten, it can boos you across the larger rooms quickly. On TC, the high damage plus blast radius helps take out crowding Phor. Shotguns, being hitscan, are best for hitting switches and destroying wires from a distance.

Big House

Immediately bring up your fists and punch the enforcer to get the action started. If you get really really lucky, an enforcer might die close enough to the window for you to get its weapon.

This Side Toward Enemy

Simple enough for Kindergarten runs (though being one hit from death is a bit scary). On TC, the dual pistols are the fastest way to take out any compilers that block you in the last section, and you'll definitely want to detour for that fusion pistol.

God Will Sort The Dead

Memorize the Explode-A-Bobs spawn locations. Again, the map is your friend at the start. Don't forget the secret switches to activate the crushers. As this is an extermination level, you need to kill all enemies to proceed.

My Own Private Thermopylae

At first, activate the central and left stairways, then charge your shields. Grab the AR and grenade jump out of the water to reach the Thoth switch on the right section of the level. A good AR fly to the lower ledge afterwards will let you avoid falling into the water. From there, get to the second switch, then back to the start to leave. Grab the rocket launcher before you do.

Kill Your Television

Again, open your map at start to determine which direction to go. Once in the upper area, go to the ammo cache in the center for one of the 2X canisters, then no-damage rocket ump your way to the upper-right corner of the starting area to progress.

Of the two switches you need to activate, first get the one where you need to raise the water level, as it it shorter distance-wise. For the second, you can then rocket jump (the reason you got that canister) out of the water directly to the switch. Get the flamethrower on your way back down.

Where The Twist Flops

Without taking damage (duh), get to the invincibility, and use it to make your way to the 2X recharger, killing as you go (another extermination level). From there, clear out everything as you loop back to the start; unfortunately, there's no way to avoid waiting for elevators here. Explode-A-Bobs don't explode when burned to death.

Beware Of Abandoned Rental Trucks

First, detour to the secret area for ammo and a 3X canister. That should be enough to get you through the level.

Requiem For A Cyborg

That flamethrower is great for taking out the numerous fighters that get in your way. The shotgun also works really well for hitting the last three switches, followed by a non-damaging rocket jump to the exit terminal.

Fatum Iustum Stultorum

As previously mentioned, the flamethrower lets you kill the exploding bobs without worry about the explosion. Much like Sorry Don't Make It So, this is an extermination level where you don't actually need to worry about exterminating. An AR fly in the first room of the final section lets you skip the water level puzzle, and the following two rooms can both be cut short with straferuns or AR flys, assuming nothing gets in your way.

Feel The Noise

This level provides everything needed to skip most of it, except the rocket launcher you already have. From the starting room, there are two alcoves higher than the others. The first leads straight to the switch that opens the door to the final area, while the second, higher alcove (the one near the 3X canister) acts as a shortcut to said door, with an intervening ledge that can easily be grenade- or no-damage-rocket-jumped up. Obviously, the two high alcoves can be reached by blasting yourself with rockets.

You can also straferun into the room with the final terminal to skip lowering the wall, though as this is an exploration level, you'll need to then open the door and take a few steps out to trigger the exit message.

All Roads Lead To Sol

AR flying significantly cuts down on travel time in this level. There's also a super-risky and possibly slightly faster strat you can use (compared to completing the level normally) by going through where the secret credits term is, then swimming through the lava-filled final room and mashing through the final term before you're killed by the lava.

Marathon Infinity

Ne Cede Malis

There's a secret switch (probably a leftover from testing) hidden behind a solid wall that will immediately open the doors to the final area. It's located in the room with the oxygen recharger, at the vertical light strip on the wall just right of said recharger. Simply mash up against the light and hit tab to activate it, though note that there's no sound to confirm you've done so.

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