5 Marathons Worth Traveling the World For

color run marathon 2
Photo Cred: Jimmy Baikovicius

Running is more than just a hobby for millions of people around the world. When it comes to competitive races, there is a spirit within all of us that drives people to achieve greater things and beat their own personal bests. After running my first race ever in Jamaica, I understand why they can become so addicting to part of. Not only do you get an incredible feeling of accomplishment as you cross the finish line, but you get to run alongside incredible people and by volunteers that help push you forward. The running community is incredibly supportive and full of positive energy, you will ask yourself why you waited so long to be part of it.

There is more than likely a race happening at least once per year in your own backyard you can be part of and hundreds that happen all over the world. If you are looking for a unique experience to have during your next travels, why not sign up for a 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon? There are also some marathons that simply take your breath away in more ways than one, and the experience of running them is one worth traveling across the oceans for.

Big Sur International Marathon, USA

Big Sur Marathon
Photo Cred: bsim.org

This stunning stretch of the California coastline is one of the most beautiful areas in the country. When it comes to great running locations, this is destination is truly spectacular. The Big Sur International Marathon goes along the road which crosses over some of the bays, skirts and cliffs along the coastline. One challenge to avoid is stopping to take pictures every few hundred meters. There is an elite race for those who take their marathon running seriously, while those running for fun will find plenty of support with chipped timing, regular aid stations and food at the start and finish of the race.

The Great Wall Marathon, China

Great Wall Marathon
Photo Cred: Severin Stalder

The Great Wall Marathon offers a very different challenge to the majority of marathons. Most people usually take around 50% longer than their usual marathon time because of the unique terrain. Much of the route is along parts of the Great Wall of China in Tianjin and across the route there are over 5,164 steps to climb before you finish. The fact that it is run in May when temperatures can soar to 30 degrees Celsius, adds to the challenge of this experience.

Snowdonia Marathon, UK

Snowdonia Marathon
Photo Cred: Sondrekv

The beautiful mountains of Snowdonia are home to one of the most picturesque settings for a marathon in the world, but this also comes with a big challenge. The route which begins and ends in the town of Llanberis, offers a mix of road and farm track running. It also circles the highest mountain in Wales consisting of plenty of ascent and descent to give runners a real challenge. This is an October marathon which means the temperature has been fairly cool most years in the past.

New York City Marathon, USA

New York Marathon
Photo Cred: Martin Eric

Taking places in one of biggest cities in the world, it’s appropriate that the New York Marathon is one of the biggest in terms of the field that runs the race and the crowds that cheer on the runners. During this race, runners will pass through some of the most famous areas of the city such as Manhattan and Brooklyn after leaving the starting point on Staten Island. This marathon draws some of the world’s biggest names for the elite race and is one of the most recognizable marathons.

Big Five Marathon, South Africa

Big Five Marathon
Photo Cred: Big Five Marathon

While the gazelle may not be considered one of the big five safari animals found in South Africa, you may need to run like one to be able to complete this marathon across the savannah of Limpopo province. This is a race run in the sun, but temperatures are usually a bearable 15 to 25 degrees Celsius. Upon completing the race, runners can celebrate experiencing a safari in the Entabeni Game Reserve.

Which of these 5 marathons would you give a try?


  • I have always wanted to try running a 5k, to start off with! These races look beautiful. I think you’re right – it would be difficult not to stop and take photos!

  • Of the marathons listed, I would most like to do the Great Wall one – which is weird because I have no super strong desire to see the Great Wall of China in person. I actually once applied to run in the New York Marathon but I wasn’t chosen.

    I would travel to do the Honolulu Marathon. A large number of Japanese participate in the event.

  • Of the marathons listed, I would do the Great Wall Marathon. As crazy as it sounds, I have no super great desire to visit the Great Wall of China. But it would be an awesome marathon to run in. I have actually applied to run in the New York City Marathon but haven’t been chosen.

    I would actually travel to Hawaii to do the Honolulu Marathon. A lot of Japanese do – usually more than half of the participants are Japanese.


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