People pick up running for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s to improve fitness or getting over a heartache, there are certainly many physical, mental and emotional benefits to the sport.
One of those “perks” is travelling to compete in races. More than just a change of your usual route, joining a marathon abroad also presents the opportunity to see new sights, learn new cultures and taste tantalising food (with less guilt after burning all those calories while running!).
Going on a “running holiday” gives you the unique opportunity to see a destination with a fresh perspective. This is because you will be on roads or other public venues that would have otherwise been hard to access by foot on normal days.
The so-called Big 6 or Abbott World Marathon Majors for example, are held in some of the world’s most exciting cities: Tokyo (Japan), Berlin (Germany), London (Britain), Boston, Chicago and New York City, all of which are in the United States.
Many races, unfortunately, have either been cancelled or postponed this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now is a good time to train in your local neighbourhood park to improve your speed and endurance.
Once the situation improves, here are some international events to put on your running holiday list.
Tokyo Marathon, Japan
There’s an abundance of electrifying energy in Tokyo and this is amplified during race day. Runners get the chance to pass through some of the city’s main districts at this marathon. Iconic structures and buildings are peppered throughout the route. Think crossing the finishing line at the Imperial Palace grounds with the Tokyo Station in the background. There’s also a shorter 10km route (which is technically not a marathon) where runners will be able to navigate through a landscaped course of beautiful gardens.
After the race, indulge in some sushi at Toyosu Fish Market. You can also do some retail therapy at Harajuku, visit an ancient temple at Asakusa and experience sumo culture in in Ryōgoku.
Australian Outback Marathon, Australia
Run in the middle of the dessert in this event. As its name suggests, the marathon’s route in Australia’s Northern Territory lets participants run on graded bush roads and genuine bush fire trails.
The course can be quite sandy, but the beautiful views of Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) more than make up for it. The Northern Territory is known for its outback adventures.
Watch sunrises over the West MacDonnell Ranges or delve into history by seeing Aboriginal rock art. For some urban exploration, head to Darwin to visit colourful outdoor markets and feast on fabulous food.
Reykjavik Marathon, Iceland
Those thinking of sweating it out in a cooler climate can check out this scenic run. The route brings participants around the capital city as well as passing through views of beaches, oceans and mountains.
At certain locations, you will be running through a valley of rivers and forests. Another plus point is of course, the cool climate. Temperatures are usually around a pleasant 10°C.
For more gorgeous panoramas, visit the Hallgrimskirkja church and rotating Perlan glass dome for views of the sea and nearby hills. And this being Iceland, be sure to check out Viking Age history at the National and Saga museums.
Patagonian Marathon, Chile
Thinking of reconnecting with nature while running, then this marathon is for you. The race takes place at the Torres del Paine National Park.
A Unesco World Biosphere Reserve, the venue is home to amazing hiking trails and plants. It also houses a diverse wildlife such as flamingos, guanacos and condors.
And race day would bring you past some of the flora and fauna, as well as views of spectacular landscapes.
Take some time to recover after the race with more nature tours in Patagonia. The Chilean side of the region has no shortage of temperate rainforests and glacial fjords.
Cyprus Marathon, Cyprus
You need to be able to handle the heat to join this marathon in the city of Paphos. But if you have always been enamoured by Greek mythology, this event is definitely one for the books.
The course begins at Aphrodite’s Rock, the legendary place that is believed to be the birthplace of the Goddess of Love. From there, the route takes participants through beautiful coastlines and ends at the scenic Pafos Medieval Fort Square.
The city has many ancient sites such as the Kato Paphos Archaeology Park, St Paul’s Pillar and Medieval Castle of Paphos. You can also do a celebratory feast with plenty of wine and meze, a selection of small traditional dishes.
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