Running a marathon may be a true test of endurance. It can also a great excuse to travel. Just check out these seven marathons if you don’t believe us. They’ve all got a little something special going on and offer you the chance to tick must-see destinations off your bucket list. After all, if you’re going to run 26.2 miles, you might aswell do a spot of sightseeing while you’re at it.
The party atmosphere of the Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Marathon will make the miles fly by
The Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, USA
Sign up: Registration open around April or June
Running a marathon through the Nevada desert might not sound like a great idea, but The Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon is well worth it. The party atmosphere will help the miles fly by, plus you get to run along the famous strip and finish up at The Mirage Casino. There’s even a detour through a wedding chapel at mile three for couples looking to tie the knot.
A staggering 5,164 steps is just one of the challenges to expect on the Great Wall Matahon
The Great Wall Marathon, China
Sign up: Registration starts in August
Note: this one isn’t for the faint hearted. The 5,164 steps you’ll be expected to cover, along with the staggering elevation of the course, have earned this marathon a reputation as one of the toughest marathons in the world. The pay off? You get to run across The Great Wall of China and marvel at the views.
Running through the happiest place on earth will keep your spirits high as the miles pass
Walt Disney World Marathon, Florida
When: Early January
Sign up: Registration opens in April
Love the idea of running around the happiest place on earth? The Disney World Marathon turns those dreams into a reality. The route starts with fireworks and loops around Epcot, with a detour through Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom. You’re guaranteed an awesome crowd cheering you on too, with the chance to spot Mickey, Minnie and the whole gang dotted amongst the spectators.
Run amongst wild elephants, rhinos, and lions during the Big Five Marathon
Big Five Marathon, South Africa
When: Late June
Sign up: You can register from August
Animal enthusiasts, this one’s for you. The Big Five Marathon winds across the Savannahs of South Africa, with no fences, markers or rivers separating you from the surrounding wildlife. The crowds of spectators are replaced with elephants, rhinos and lions, while the views across the planes are nothing short of spectacular. The organisers are on hand to help you tackle the soaring temperatures too, with refresh stations located every 2.5 miles.
Run through the birthplace of the marathon at the Athens Classic Marathon
The Athens Classic Marathon
Sign up: Registration starts around April time
Where better to cover those 26.2 miles than the birthplace of the marathon? This is the one where it all started, with a race that covers the same route that was taken by Pheidippides in 490 BC. Legend has it that he ran from Marathon to what is now modern-day Athens to deliver a message of victory to the people of the city.
Running the world's largest marathon also means the world's largest crowds cheering you
The New York City Marathon, New York
When: Early November
Sign up: Usually around March or April
The world’s largest marathon also draws arguably the largest crowds, with supporters cheering you on from every corner, street and boulevard. The course covers five bridges and all five boroughs, with a lap around Central Park South and a stop off at Columbus Circle before the finish line at Tavern on the Green.
The exercise starts before the race begins, with the starting line a hike away at the Everest Base Camp
Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon, Nepal
When: Late May
Sign up: You can reserve a place a few months in advance, but must provide a medical certificate to show you’re in good health
When you have to hike to the starting line, you know that it’s not going to be an easy run. The route begins at Everest Base Camp, ends at Namche Bazaar and has an elevation of 18,200 feet at certain points. There might not be the usual marathon crowds along the way, but instead runners get to enjoy the dramatic landscape, spectacular view of Everest and the bragging rights that come with running the highests marathon in the world.