10 Must-Do Marathons Around the World
A True Adventure
Patagonian International Marathon 1 of 11
Held in Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia, this event touts views of some of the most impressive landscapes in the world. With mountains towering more than 8,000 feet above the course and abundant wildlife marking the area, participants will run along rivers, lakes and imposing glaciers, finishing at the base of Monte Almirante Nieto. An off-road course that is mostly held on rolling gravel terrain, this race attracts around 400 runners from over 20 countries each year for a new kind of running journey. A supremely challenging adventure, this race has a Leave No Trace policy, which means runners are required to carry their own hydration systems.
Unrivaled Natural Beauty of the Pacific Northwest
Columbia Gorge Marathon 2 of 11
Offering spectacular views of Oregon's fall foliage during peak season, the Columbia Gorge Marathon is one of the most scenic races in the country. Taking runners down the Historic Columbia River Highway and through the gorge, the race finishes at the Port of Hood River's Marine Park. A region that was carved out millions of years ago by Ice Age flooding, the canyon gets as deep as 4,000 feet and runs 80 miles to create a natural border between Washington and Oregon. As you navigate the 26.2-mile distance, you'll be treated to stunning vistas overlooking the river, as well as free flowing waterfalls and charming small towns.
A Run Through History
BMW Berlin Marathon 3 of 11
Starting and finishing at the iconic Brandenburg Gate, the BMW Berlin Marathon takes runners in a large loop around the city. An ideal tour for running sightseers, marathoners will encounter everything from the Reichstag, where the Third Reich once met, to the Tiergarten, a famous city park, to Potsdamer Platz, a public square where the Berlin Wall once sat, and past the Berlin Cathedral. One of the fastest courses in the world, where countless world records in the marathon have been set, this is the perfect race if you're running down a PR or simply looking to experience a little slice of history.
A Safari on Foot
The Big Five Marathon 4 of 11
A truly wild race, the Big Five Marathon is held on the Entabeni Game Reserve of the South African savannah. Traveling through the habitats of elephant, rhino, gazelles, buffalo, giraffe, lion and leopard, with nothing separating runners from the animals, this isn't for the faint of heart. Taking runners through valleys, down ridges, and up steep climbs, this is a favorite among thrill-seeking trail running buffs. With a landscape that includes sheer ravines, raging waterfalls and redstone dunes, it is perhaps the most unique way to experience this type of landscape.
The Perfect Post-Race Celebration
Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon 5 of 11
Why not turn your race weekend into a wine-tasting vacation? Dubbed the "biggest little marathon in the West," the Napa Valley Marathon takes runners through the heart of wine country. Flanked by vineyards and wineries, the course starts in Calistoga before meandering along the historic Silverado Trail and finishing at Vintage High School in Napa. An almost entirely rural course, runners are treated to a net downhill from point to point. With capacity for 2,300 runners, the event prides itself on catering to individual runners and maintains a well-organized, small-town feel.
Catalina Island Eco Marathon 6 of 11
If you're in search of a remote race in a beautiful location but don't want to leave the U.S., the Catalina Island Eco Marathon is for you. Taking runners through three separate ecosystems, this race starts off the coast of Long Beach, California, on the scenic trails of Catalina Island. Along the way, runners traverse single-track trails, dirt roads, rough ridgelines and breathtaking vistas that offer expansive views of the Pacific Ocean. It's not uncommon to see buffalo out on the trail, seals in the water, and bald eagles soaring overhead in the sky, so while the course is tough, it's worth keeping your eyes on the horizon so you don't miss a thing.
Score a Boston Qualifier
Colorado Marathon 7 of 11
Known as the fastest and most scenic marathon in the Centennial State, the Colorado Marathon offers a great reason to head west. While the course starts at 6,108 feet, it is almost entirely downhill, losing 1,353 feet over 26.2 miles and making it accessible even for runners who don't train at altitude. Starting in the foothills of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, the race winds runners down through Poudre Canyon, finishing in Fort Collins. Thanks to the course design, it is one of the most successful races in the country at producing Boston Marathon qualifiers, punching BQs for nearly 18 percent of participants most years, a higher percentage than any other domestic race.
For the Party Animal
Marathon du Medoc 8 of 11
A wine and food festival disguised as a marathon, the Marathon du Medoc held in the southwest of France near Bordeaux offers food stands and wine tastings along the entire course. Among the fine fare offered are oysters, cheese, meats and fruits, with the region's world-famous wines to wash everything down. Runners are encouraged to dress according to the year's theme, which always results in a parade of spirited costumed runners. With over 8,000 participants stumbling their way to the finish line, the conviviality surrounding this race can't be beat.
Experience Olympic History
Asics Stockholm Marathon 9 of 11
Leading runners around two loops of Sweden's capital city, the Stockholm Marathon provides a tour of some of the country's most notable landmarks, including the Royal Woods, Royal Palace, City Hall and Houses of Parliament. Run mostly along the city's charming waterways, runners can enjoy a particularly good view of the medieval and contemporary architecture of the city as they cross the V?sterbron Bridge. Finishing in the 1912 Olympic Stadium where over 80 world records in track and field have been set, runners get a rare glimpse into one of the most renowned venues in the sport.
Travel Buff's Dream
Skarkasse 3-Laender Marathon 10 of 11
Offering runners the unique opportunity to run through three countries—Germany, Austria and Switzerland—all in one single race, this 26.2-mile journey starts along the harbor on the island of Lindau, Germany, before taking runners through several Austrian towns, and then crossing the Swiss border and finishing in Bregenz. With 60 percent of the course along the shores of Lake Constance, this race is flat and fast, not to mention that temperatures tend to be moderate in October, when the race is held. Along with the views, the varied terrain, featuring cobblestone, gravel and asphalt, keeps things interesting.