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06 September, 2014 0 comments



Eight Marathons to Run Before You Die

Completing a marathon is a great feeling for anybody, and the satisfaction of your first marathon is something that stays with you forever. Everybody remembers the pain of their first marathon finish, and it is overcoming the difficulties of their first run that keeps many people running and moving onto ultra-marathons. For some runners the enjoyment comes from the occasion or the location, for others it is the challenge and the satisfaction, but whatever the reason for your course choice, here are 8 races you should enter before you die.

The London Marathon--April

This is one of the biggest marathons, with over 40,000 people competing. “It’s extremely well-organized, has huge crowds and is nationally televised,” says coach Ewen North, head coach and director of Revolution Running in Boulder. This is not a purely competitive event and thousands are running for fun or to raise money for charity. Watching brave individuals running 26 miles dressed as a telephone box or giant bear is heartwarming and encouraging. The race starts in Greenwich Park, and finishes at Buckingham Palace, and in between you are treated to a running tour of London. Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, and The London Eye, will all be seen en route, and you will get to see a huge portion of the city of London including the Thames. This is a marathon for the people, and raises 100s of thousands of pounds for various charities.

Marathon de Paris—April

Paris, like London is a tourist Mecca, and running the marathon de Paris is an excellent way to combine sight-seeing with a run. You will run along the banks of the Seine and past the Bastille and the Louvre, while across from you it will be easy to spot Notre Dame Cathedral and the impressive Eiffel Tower. As the race starts on the Champs- Elysees and finishes at the Arc de Triomphe (could there be a cooler finishing point) you will see two more iconic Parisian locations. Not quite as big as the London Marathon, the Marathon de Paris is still one of the most interesting runs on the marathon circuit, and as it is a good place to start your running as “it's a relatively flat route, making it a good one for novices” according to fitness magazine.

The Athens Classic—September

If history or authenticity is your thing, then you have to run the Athens marathon. It  is “Steeped in a rich history, this is a tough course with more than 30 [kilometers] of uphill, but it is the most worthy race,” says Caolan MacMahon, running coach with The Long Run Coaching in Boulder. The Marathon takes its name from the town of…you guessed it, Marathon, and that is where this races starts. You will follow the same course that was run by Pheidippides in 490BC, before finishing in the ancient city of Athens. The run takes its toll on competitors every year as it includes a lot of uphill running, but the beautiful scenery of the course and the satisfaction of completing the original run entice thousands of runners every year.

Great Wall of China Marathon—May

This is one of the most unusual locations, and definitely one of the most grueling events, you will enter. Jennifer Purdie, a California-based running coach tells us that “It’s very uplifting and very challenging at the same time”. This is a relatively new event that was first run in 1999, but its popularity increases every year as runners learn about it. The Wall’s run is completely different to other marathons as there are so many steps to negotiate, and running up 5,164 steps is too much for many of the competitors. However, once you finish running up the steps and start to enter the Chinese countryside the race takes on a completely different feel, and you will be cheered on by local villagers who will uplift your spirit and help you forget about the pain with their enthusiasm for the race. This run may invoke a new meaning to wall of pain, but it is also heartwarming to see the enjoyment the Chinese supporters get from the run.

The Big Five—June

This South African marathon is definitely not one for the beginner, as it includes running on unfamiliar rocky surfaces, and you will encounter blistering heat. Caolan MacMahon tells that “This is a challenging course”. The run itself takes place in Limpopo at the Entabeni Safari Conservancy. This is a marathon that will entertain you as no other can, and the thought of encountering wild animals like Giraffes, antelopes, and Rhinos, polarizes a lot of runners. However, this is a run that, like the Great Wall of China run, is a must for those looking for locations that inspire.

North Pole Marathon

From blistering heat to frozen wastes, the North Pole Marathon is without doubt the coolest marathon on the planet (sorry for the pun).  Running in these conditions will take their toll on the best of runners, and you need to remember that you will be swapping your shorts and running shoes for thermal jackets and winter warmers, and solid floors for a moving ice floe. This may not appear to be a serious race at first glance, but the conditions make this a difficult marathon for anybody, and finishing this race will mean you have overcome incredible elements to succeed.

Everest Ultra Marathon

This Marathon may not be for the purists who think a Marathon should only be 26 miles, but not mentioning a race that takes place in the Himalayas would be, quite frankly, wrong. At an elevation that starts at 5184m above sea level, and crossing 65 kilometers across a mountain landscape, the Everest Ultra is a worthy challenge to any runner. Imagine the feeling of running across a terrain that most people consider too hostile to walk, this a journey that will bring complete satisfaction. Referring to Edmond Hillary’s quote about Everest “ It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves” Rob Shenton writing for Men’s Running magazine says “Never has a quote been more apt when people take on such an epic adventure as the Everest marathon”.

The Barkley Marathon, Tennessee—April

New york Times sports columnist Dave Seminara said this year “This is the Barkley Marathon, the world’s toughest and most secretive trail race”, but this marathon is as much a story as it is a race. The course is run over the same countryside as the attempted escape route of James Earl Ray (the assassin of Martin Luther King Jr) from Mountain State Prison. This course is challenging in the extreme, and rises 60,000 foot from start to finish. You are allowed 60 hours to accomplish the run, and most fail; in fact, only 14 people have ever completed the full distance, and the course was made more difficult every time that happened. James Earl Ray only managed to get 5 miles from the prison in 54 hours, and that inspired what may be the most difficult run in the world. It took 4 years for somebody to finish the race initially, and another 6 before anybody else completed it. If you are looking for the ultimate running challenge, this is surely it.


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