It takes a lot of courage and determination to even register to run 26.2 miles, let alone actually cross the finish line!
Signing up to run a marathon isn’t just about paying an entry fee and receiving a bib for race day, it’s the first step on a long journey towards the finish line. During your marathon training journey, you will come to learn a lot about your physical and emotional self, as well as becoming physically and mentally more resilient as you learn to cope with longer distances.
For many, training for and completing a marathon marks a period of change in lifestyle and even mindset. It’s a major event in many people’s lives that can be remembered with a sense of pride and achievement.
So, once you’ve decided to embark on this journey of a lifetime, the next question is ‘where?’.
You might be comfortable running your race on home turf, where your family and friends can come to cheer you across the finish line, but why not make a holiday of it?
Lots of regular marathoners incorporate their passion for distance running into their travels and sign up to marathons across the globe so that they can take in the sights and experience the culture of the land in which they will be running in the days before the race.
If you’re a culture vulture seeking inspiration for your next marathon, or you’re curious to know about what each event has to offer, read on to learn more about marathons around the world!
Berlin Marathon, Germany
Not too far for Brits to visit and with a pleasant climate for marathon running, the Berlin Marathon has seen many world records be set and broken as the big names of marathoning come to compete on this famously fast course. In fact, the current world record time over the marathon distance was set in Berlin by Eliud Kipchoge in 2018.
Not only is the Berlin Marathon full of famous names, but it also has a fascinating history.
Prior to the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, the course was only able to cover the Western half of the city. The 1990 marathon saw runners cover ground in both halves of Berlin, passing through the Brandenburg Gate as part of the course.
Midnight Sun Marathon, Norway
The town of Tromsø, Norway is home to the Midnight Sun Marathon, which is so-called because the sun doesn’t set at night due to Tromsø’s northerly location. As the name suggests, the race takes place in the early hours of the morning, which would usually be pitch-black, but as this marathon is the world’s most northerly race, the sun shines all night long!
The uniqueness of the Midnight Sun Marathon is the reason that it is so famous all over the globe, and also the reason that people come from as far afield as South America to participate.
Honolulu Marathon, USA
If you’ve ever wanted to visit the American state of Hawaii, the Honolulu Marathon might just be the perfect excuse to go!
Hawaii’s location means that you’ll see plenty of exotic scenery along your route, and as the second biggest marathon event in the USA in 2012, the views definitely don’t disappoint. The Honolulu Marathon attracts over 20,000 runners every year, and this number is always on the rise.
Despite the tropical climate making for difficult running conditions and a slightly hilly course, Hawaii’s Honolulu Marathon is especially popular among first-time marathoners looking for an interesting and memorable course.
Paris Marathon, France
Another popular race for Brits looking to make their marathon experience into a 3-day weekend of sightseeing is the Paris Marathon. At just over a 2-hour-long journey on the Eurostar from London St Pancras, traveling to this marathon isn’t much different from traveling elsewhere in the UK.
This course takes runners through the most famous historical sites of the city. Starting at the Camps-Elysées and finishing at the Place de la Concorde, this marathon course will surely be one to remember – and great for taking pictures while you run!
Tokyo Marathon, Japan
The Tokyo Marathon takes place annually at the beginning of every new year. As one of the six Marathon World Majors, the Tokyo Marathon is incredibly popular, attracting over 300,000 applications to run in the race every year!
As for the climate you can expect to be running in, there has only been one Tokyo Marathon event at which it has not rained, which was in 2011.
A fairly young marathon at just over a decade old, the Tokyo marathon and 10K events welcome elite and amateur athletes from all corners of the world.
London Marathon, UK
Perhaps one of the most famous marathon events next to the Boston and New York City Marathon, the London Marathon marks a major day in the sporting calendar every year.
This race is so popular that applicants must enter into a ballot before finding out whether they have been given a place as entries are capped at around the 40,000 mark – however, if you’re dead set on running the course, you can opt to run in aid of a charity, raising money as you train.
The course for the London marathon takes runners past all of London’s major landmarks, including the London Eye, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace – perfect for taking your mind off your legs!
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Rome Marathon, Italy
The Rome Marathon, better known as the Maratona di Roma, takes place annually in the Springtime.
Runners begin their race in from of the Colosseum before passing by Rome’s famous sights including St. Peter’s Basilica before crossing the finish line. Marathoners who have completed this race praise the course’s beauty, however, be mindful that much of the terrain is made up of the cobblestones that make up Rome’s ancient streets.
So, if you want to take in the atmosphere of this ancient European city, and you’re up for a challenge, why not sign up to run the Maratona di Roma?
Prague Marathon, Czech Republic
Another proud European city with plenty of beautiful architecture to be admired is Prague.
Held every year in the month of May, temperatures at the time of the marathon are generally in the low 20’s – uncomfortable for some but bearable for others. Thanks to Prague’s popularity among tourists, its marathon event has grown to become the most international marathon, with nearly 70% of runners hailing from countries other than the Czech Republic.
From the start line, the marathon course takes runners through Prague’s most historic squares, and runners can enjoy plenty of fantastic views along the way. However, like Rome, the streets of Prague have been built with cobbles – so be careful if you want to avoid injuries!
One great selling point of this race is the elevation: the course is almost completely flat, making it perfect for any first-time marathoner, beginners, and other runners going for a personal best.
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New York City Marathon, USA
At almost 50 years old, the New York City marathon is one of the oldest marathon events today. As the site which has been much sporting history being made, running the NYC marathon gives athletes the opportunity to be a part of one of the most well-known running events in the world.
The NYC Marathon finish line sees over 50,000 runners cross it every year, making this running event the largest marathon in the world.
The course for this race passes through every major area of the city, including Brooklyn and Manhattan. As it is centred around the river, the course takes participants on a scenic tour of what New York City has to offer.
Patagonian International Marathon, Chile
Taking place in Chilean Patagonia, the Patagonian International Marathon is for anyone who wants to run the marathon of a lifetime. As a participant, this truly unique course will show you just what it’s like to fall in love with your surroundings as you run through the tranquil hills.
But be warned – this race isn’t appropriate for first-time runners nor the faint-hearted. It should come as no surprise that the elevation profile for this course shows an undulating course which takes participants part-way up mountains for their race.
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Great Wall Marathon, China
Famously one of the world’s most difficult marathon courses, if not the most difficult, the Great Wall Marathon course is 26.2 miles of 20,000 stone steps of varying heights, uneven surfaces and even rubble. The course’s elevation gin is 200m, however, the constant up and down of the steps means that runners must be aware of the terrain underfoot and incorporate plenty of steps into their marathon training plan in order to prepare their bodies for the challenge.
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