Runners around the world share the same passion for their chosen sport. They don’t need to speak another language; running is a language of its own which brings like minded people together. So pack your running shoes, water bottle, reflective vest
or reflective band, and head off for an adventure on another continent.
- ATHENS MARATHON
Let’s begin at the very beginning – the story behind the marathon. In Greece in 490 BC, a runner by the name of Pheidippides, was sent from the battlefield at Marathon to Athens, to report of an Athenian victory against the Persians. Legend has it that poor Pheidippides ran the 24.85 mile distance and was only able to shout, “Niki!” (“Victory”) before collapsing and dying. At the 1908 Olympic Games in London, an extra 2.2 miles was added to the marathon distance, so that the royal family would be able to see the finish from their private box. The Athens Marathon begins at the site of Marathon and ends at Athens Olympic Stadium. It has some gruelling and challenging uphill stretches and the last 8 miles is basically downhill all the way. You will be cheered on your way and given olive branches by the thousands of Greeks who support this event every year. Even New Yorkers, who are quite rightly proud of their marathon, say that the crowd at the Athens Marathon surpasses anything they have ever experienced before.
- GREAT WALL MARATHON
This incredibly tough marathon takes place in China’s Tianjin province and runners say it is one of the most picturesque marathons in the world. The marathon includes running six kilometres on the Great Wall of China and having to negotiate 5,164 steps, some of which are very shallow and others are knee high. The views of the villages nestled in the valleys and the surrounding areas are breathtaking and give runners a good insight into life in rural China.
- THE INCA TRAIL MARATHON TO MACHU PICCHU
The Inca Trail Marathon to Machu Picchu in Peru has been described as the most beautiful but toughest in the world. Apart from the physical and mental challenges, it is a great option for anyone who is interested in archaeology and history. It takes your average hiker 3.5 days to hike this strenuous course, so you can see what you are up against. The marathon begins in the Machu Picchu Sanctuary National Park at an altitude of 8,650 feet. There are several mountain passes to tackle and the highest elevation is 13,800 feet. There is always the possibility of succumbing to altitude sickness, so make sure you are aware of the signs. The scenery, and the altitude, will leave you breathless, as you run past Inca ruins surrounded by the majesty of the Andes. As you cross the finish line, the back drop is the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. What a wonderful photograph that will be.
- AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK MARATHON
The Australian Outback Marathon is run in the Australian winter to avoid the killing heat of the outback’s summer. It is an excellent choice for those people who enjoy adventure and have always wanted to explore the Australian outback. The marathon takes place in Yulara in Australia’s Northern Territory. You run on central Australia’s famous ‘red earth’, on sand trails, bush tracks and dirt tracks. It is a relatively flat course with only a few sand dunes and gently inclines to negotiate. The fascinating part of this marathon is that is takes you within 10 kilometers of Uluru or Ayers Rock and close to Kata Tjuta or The Olgas. Runners frequently comment on the eerie silence which hangs over the area. The only sound being your feet on the track and your breathing. Runners say that the whole atmosphere of the area spurs them on, and the kilometres just melt away as they run with the iconic backdrop of Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
- JUNGFRAU MARATHON
The Jungfrau Marathon is well known for its stunning views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau in the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland. The race starts in the Alpine town of Interlaken which is situated between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz and is at an altitude of 1,870 feet (570m). The first 10 km are flat and running is on tar and hiking trails, so this is where runners try and make up for the fact that later, they will no longer be running but rather walking up very steep inclines on exceptionally narrow mountain paths. It is advisable to wear a reflective running vest or reflective belt
as the mist in the Alps can close in very quickly and make you invisible to all around you. The highest altitude reached on the course is at the 40 km mark, which is 7,234 feet (2,205m). The finish line is at Kleine Scheidegg, which is at an altitude of 6,762 feet (2061m). One of the joys of this marathon is that you don’t have to walk back down the mountain, you catch the train, which means you can sit back and relax and enjoy the stunning scenery around you.