With races all over the world, running has become a popular vacation activity. Why run through the streets of your hometown when you can run through stunning scenery in an exotic, faraway place, and then hang out and take in the sights?
For those who like to travel, here are 10 great destination races.
Shamrock Shuffle 10 Mile/10K/5K/Kids 1KMarch 15, 2015 - Rio Rancho, New Mexico 1 of 11
With a race distance for every runner, the Shamrock Shuffle starts and finishes at the Rio Rancho Aquatic Center, just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico's largest city. After the race, take a ride on the world's third-longest tram and catch your breath as you dine at 10,378 feet in the High Finance Restaurant perched on the top of the Sandia Mountains.
North Pole MarathonApril 9, 2015 - Svalbard, North Pole 2 of 11
If you like adventure—and we mean adventure—the North Pole Marathon may be the race for you. Held in one of the remotest parts of the planet, the North Pole Marathon takes you to a place few people ever experience. Even Santa Claus and his elves move south for the winter. With just 31 male and seven female finishers in 2014, completing this marathon puts you in very small company.
As for the course, well, it runs on water—frozen water—with just 6 to 12 feet of ice separating you from 12,000 feet of Arctic Ocean. With extreme sub-zero temperatures and strong winds, this marathon isn't for wimps. Don't even think about running a personal best here. The men's course record is 3:36:10; the women's is 4:52:45.
NYCRUNS Queens Half MarathonApril 12, 2015 - Queens, New York 3 of 11
Image by Ken Shelton Photography
The NYCRUNS Queens Half Marathon has a fairly flat and scenic route that takes you by several major sites, including Unisphere, New York State Pavilion, National Tennis Center, Queens Museum and the reservoir.
After the race, hang out in Queens with your family and visit some local attractions such as Citi Field, Queens Museum, Queens Zoo and Science Center, or hop on the train and visit the Big Apple's other four boroughs.
Virgin London MarathonApril 26, 2015 - London, England 4 of 11
The Virgin London Marathon, one of the world's most popular marathons with more than 36,000 runners, takes participants around one of the world's most visited cities. London has something for everyone: history, culture, art, grand museums, dazzling architecture, royalty and diversity. And don't forget the tea and crumpets. (Although we wouldn't suggest drinking the tea during the marathon.)
The course is largely flat and runs close to the River Thames, before finishing near Buckingham Palace. During mile six, you literally run across both sides of the world as you cross the prime meridian, the line that divides the earth's Eastern and Western Hemispheres.
The four main ways to get into the London Marathon are by online lottery drawn in October, running for charity, running a qualifying time, or running as part of a tour.
Great Wall of China MarathonMay 1, 2015 - Jinshanling Beijing, Hebei, China 5 of 11
No matter how well trained you are, you'll literally hit the wall in this marathon. The Great Wall Marathon in China is the ideal way to combine an unusual running event with an exploration of one of the world's most astonishing sights.
The course, which starts a couple hours northeast of Beijing, takes runners along the wall and through villages and rice fields. The 5,164 steps of the Great Wall put your fitness to the test. The stunning 360-degree views of China's Tianjin Province compete with your tired muscles for attention. If you don't care about your finishing time and want an adventure more than a race, this marathon is for you.
Expect the race to take much longer to complete than an average marathon because of the extreme ascents and descents.
Bay to Breakers 12KMay 17 - San Francisco, California 6 of 11
Bay to Breakers is a race built by the people. Since 1912, Over 1.8 million costumed runners, walkers and centipedes have completed the iconic 12K journey from the San Francisco Bay to the breakers on Ocean Beach.
Known for their naked runners and running tiki bar, the race starts a few blocks from the Embarcadero near the San Francisco Bay, and runs west through the city, finishing at the Great Highway where the breakers crash onto the Pacific Coast's Ocean Beach. Participants run up the iconic Hayes Street Hill, along the Panhandle and through Golden Gate Park, while San Franciscans cheer them on.
World Famous Mud Run at Camp PendletonJune 6, 2015 - Camp Pendleton, California 7 of 11
Complete with mud tunnels, cargo net climb, mud pits, mud walls and showers, the World Famous Mud Run at Camp Pendleton is world famous. This 5K/10K event is as dirty and as fun as it gets.
Participants navigate obstacles and do military-style exercises on the very muddy course located on the 125,000-acre Marine Corps base just 52 miles north of downtown San Diego. You can race by yourself or compete as a team.
All 5K and 10K runners receive a T-shirt, finisher medal, a ride on the parking shuttle, access to the Filthy Fun Fest and post-race refreshments. Participants over 21 years of age also receive one free beer at the beer garden.
After the race, hang out at the post-race party or hop in your car and drive a short distance down the coast to America's Finest City.
Huckleberry Half Marathon & 10K/5KAugust 1, 2015 - Welches, OR 8 of 11
Explore Mount Hood and run through Oregon's natural beauty at the Huckleberry Half Marathon and 10K/5K. The route is a large loop on flat, paved roads with some rolling hills. Six miles of the half marathon lead runners beyond the border of the National Forest to the turnaround at the Green Canyon trailhead, with scenery of the Cascade Range and Salmon River. When you hit the turnaround, you may want to pick up the pace—Bigfoot has been known to gain on runners in the second half.
All participants receive a Lil' Bigfoot finisher's medal, custom tote, free beer coupon and free Bigfoot photos.
Berlin MarathonSeptember 27, 2015 - Berlin, Germany 9 of 11
A large marathon with 40,000 runners, the Berlin Marathon is one of Europe's favorite marathons and is considered one of the fastest marathon courses in the world, with the most marathon world records being set there.
Berlin is a culturally cool city, a hotspot for fashion, art, design and music. Famous landmarks such as the Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, and what's left of the Berlin Wall make up a virtual three-dimensional textbook in a city where you'll find history staring you in the face every time you turn a corner.
The flat, very historic course is contained entirely within the city and starts and finishes near the Brandenburg Gate, one of Germany's most well-known landmarks.
Dublin MarathonOctober 26, 2015 - Dublin, Ireland 10 of 11
Dublin, Ireland's largest city, lies at the mouth of the River Liffey, near the midpoint of the country's east coast. Dublin is known almost as much for its people, who are lively even without the beer, as for its most famous export.
This marathon is a popular destination race, with over half of the runners traveling to run it from overseas. The reaction of many thousands of Dubliners lining the city streets during the race has made the race known internationally as the "friendly marathon."
The mostly flat course is a single loop around the city, running through Dublin's historic Georgian streets. After the race, recover and imbibe with some amiable and witty Irish friends in one (or many) of Dublin's numerous pubs. The most popular brewery in town—and Ireland's top visitor attraction—is Guinness Storehouse, the beer lover's Disneyland.