Training and finally running that marathon not only breeds health and vitality but also leaves you with a great sense of achievement. Camaraderie, glorious scenery and that great feeling when it’s all over, are only part of the joy of running a marathon. In the States, it is estimated that nearly 600,000 people finish at least one marathon a year. To do this, they go through four pairs of running shoes and spend a minimum of $120 on running gear, such as shorts, shirts, reflective running vests or a reflective belt.
ING NEW YORK CITY MARATHON – THE BIGGEST CITY MARATHON IN THE WORLD
This amazing event was first run in 1970 in Central Park, only 55 men finished and the solitary female runner pulled out at the last minute due to illness. By 1976 the event covered the five boroughs that it covers today and it had 2,090 entrants. It is usually run at the beginning of November and begins in Staten Island and ends in Central Park. In 2012, the marathon was cancelled due to the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy. The race returned in 2013, with over 100,000 entries and 50,000 runners finishing, which was a world record. These runners are spurred on by over 2 million spectators and the event also gets national TV coverage, with over 300 million viewers. The New York City Marathon welcomes overseas runners with open arms and there are 12,000 places reserved for them. There are events all week leading up to the main one and, as usual, New York City does everything in style. It’s not cheap to enter but if you love running marathons, this one is for you.
BIG SUR INTERNATIONAL MARATHON – BIGGEST RURAL MARATHON IN THE WORLD
Put on your running shoes, don your running gear and reflective running vest and off you go, on one of the prettiest marathons in the world. The peace and tranquility of the countryside is not disturbed by the starter’s pistol, no, this race is started by releasing doves. There is music along the route provided by a pianist playing classical music on a grand piano; there is also some gentle jazz and the Taiko drummers. This race, which is usually run in April, enjoys wonderful views of the Pacific Ocean, goes through redwood forests and ranch country. It had a field of 6,519 participants this year and fills up very quickly – 2015 is already full. It may be a beautiful run but it is also a challenging one, having to climb the hills on Highway One. However one runner commented that “if it weren’t for the crashing waves and barking sea lions, you’d think you were running through a painting. It is truly unreal.” And, which other marathon has a strawberry station?
PIKES PEAK MARATHON – AMERICA’S ULTIMATE CHALLENGE
Pikes Peak Marathon in Colorado takes place in August every year and is not a race for the faint hearted. The race began in 1956 when Dr. Suominen, a vehement non-smoker, challenged smokers to take part in the race. Out of the field of 13 only three were smokers and none of them finished. Dr. Suominen felt that he had proved his point. The weather can change very quickly on this marathon. You start your run at 6300 ft (1920 m) and finish at the summit which is 14,115 ft (4,299 m) – that is a climb of 7,815 ft (2,382 m). Remember that the higher your climb, the less oxygen there is. You may begin your run in clear conditions and end up in thick mist and snow. This makes wearing a reflective belt or light reflective vest a good practise. It is also recommended that you wear a good pair of sunglasses, sunscreen and cap and carry gloves and a windbreaker. Warmer clothes are transported to the summit for you, just in case the conditions become extreme.
NORTHWEST PASSAGE MARATHON
It costs a fortune, but you will only do it once. This marathon takes places in early July each year and is North America’s most northerly marathon and only accommodates 32 runners. Your experience begins with the incredible flight to your destination which takes you over terrain which you have only ever seen on National Geographic. It is a race which goes through the wilderness and your company will be the odd polar bear or beluga whale or perhaps an arctic fox or hare. You will pass ancient settlements on the shoreline and see many icebergs in the water. There are no roads, and the trail is marked with flags and the going is rough, with shallow streams to cross. One of the joys of this marathon is that you don’t need to take water with you as all the water in the rivers is uncontaminated and delightful to drink. It is an experience you will never forget.