Have you got the running bug? As the London
Marathon is only around the corner, and the sunny spring weather seems to be begging you to hit the running trails, it feels like the marathon season has officially begun. One of the perks of running, as many would agree, is that you don't need to bring any cumbersome equipment with you: just bring a good pair of running shoes and lots of stamina! Which is exactly what makes it such a great idea to combine the personal challenge of a marathon with discovering a new travel destination. Whether you are a veteran runner looking for a new challenge, or a novice wanting to take part in your first marathon, we have put together a Top 5 list of some of the most beautiful races in the world, with something for every skill level!
1. Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris
6 April 2014
This year's Paris
Marathon is only days away, but this only means that there is no better time to start training for next year's race! The Marathon offers a route through one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with fantastic views of the major monuments and attractions, as well as gorgeous areas of the city that many travellers might otherwise miss. Along the route, which follows the Champs Elysees for a time and ends near the Arc de Triomphe, you will run along the Seine and see the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral, as well as Place de la Bastille, Place de la Concorde, and the Louvre. The race is one of the biggest and oldest city marathons, with 50,000 runners (about 40% of whom come from outside of France) and predating the London Marathon by four years. The 'Running Expo' fair, a staple in a runner's calendar, takes place during the three days leading up to the race.
2. Big Sur International Marathon
27 April 2014
The Big Sur Marathon is famous for its awe-inspiring views. Starting in Big Sur, the route follows Highway One to Carmel, offering vast panoramas of the Californian
coastline. The landscape and terrain are varied and challenging: you will run downhill through a redwood forest, cross the stunning Bixby Bridge, and have to push yourself on the uphill two-mile run to the famously windy Hurricane Point. With a strictly enforced six-hour time limit, the Big Sur Marathon poses a challenge to more experienced runners as well, but you know the effort was well worth it at the finish line. The Marathon has about 4,500 participants every year, and places tend to sell out, so make sure you plan your participation well in advance!
3. Great Wall Marathon
1 May 2014
The Great Wall Marathon is among the more unusual marathons around the world, as the race takes place along the Tianjin section of the Great Wall of China. Covering the Simatai and Jinshanling portions of the Great Wall, the marathon will not only allow you to experience the magnificent scale and lasting historical heritage of the structure, but also the beauty of the surrounding landscape. This marathon may not be one for inexperienced runners, however: the route is filled with very challenging ascents and descents, and over 5,000 stone steps. Due to this, it is estimated that the race will take twice as long as a regular marathon. An eight-hour time limit confirms the Great Wall Marathon's place among the most challenging marathons in the world.
4. Athens Classic Marathon
9 November 2014
You can't beat the original! The route commemorates the feat of the foot soldier Phidippides from ancient Athens, who, according to legend, ran from the town of Marathon to Athens
- a distance of twenty four miles - to announce the city state's miraculous victory over the Persian army in 490 BC. Much of the route is uphill, making the Marathon very challenging. But the historical sites you pass by, as well as the finish line at the Panathenaic Stadium (a site of ancient athletics competitions, as well as the finish line of the 1896 and 2004 Olympic marathons), will make the run unforgettable.
5. Honolulu Marathon
14 December 2014
This truly is a marathon in paradise. The unbelievably scenic path lets you take in all the beauty of Honolulu
, from the historic sites downtown to the pristine Waikiki Beach and towering Diamond Head, finally finishing at Kapiolani Park. And, believe it or not, at the finish line, runners can cross the street and jump to cool off in the ocean! Although the tropical climate, with its humidity and high temperatures, can make the race quite tough, the Honolulu Marathon is open to all who pay the fee, regardless of your previous running record. There is also no time limit, and the finish line stays open for 15 hours after the start of the race.
Do you have marathon you are hoping to run one day, or a favourite marathon you have already conquered? Leave a comment with your experiences below, we would love to hear from you!