It’s marathon season, with the London Marathon this Sunday, when over 35,000 silly-costumed, lycra-loving runners will take to the streets of the capital. They say once you’ve done one 26.2 miler you’ll quickly forget the blisters and duck-waddle walk the day after and sign up to the next. If you've caught the running bug, why not cover those 26.2 miles in style and see a bit of the world while you’re at it? Here’s our pick of marathons around the world...
The Great Wall Marathon, China, May 2012
The Great Wall Marathon promises to ‘put your physique to the test’, with 5,164 steps to tackle. Your quads will no doubt feel every one of those steps, but what an incredible way to see one of the planet’s most iconic sights. 2012 entries have sold out, but you can sign up for a full or half marathon, 10k or 5k in 2013. 'Hitting the wall' will take on a whole new meaning.
The ‘Big Five’ Marathon, South Africa, June 2012
Swap pounding the streets with pounding the savannah on the Big Five Marathon, which takes place in the heart of South Africa’s savannah in Entabeni Game Reserve. Organisers say that “no fences, no rivers, nothing at all separates the runners from the African wildlife”, which means running 26 miles in elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo and leopard territory. Just hope the lions are well fed or you’ll be well in line for a PB.
Polar Circle Marathon, Greenland, October 2012
‘The coolest marathon on earth’ takes place in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, with an awesome backdrop of mammoth glaciers, mighty ice sculptures and moraine landscapes. With sub-zero temperatures and snow-covered tracks, this is strictly one for die-hard runners. Gloves and a stamina of steel essential.
Athens Classic Marathon, Greece, 11 November
Run where it all started. A legendary route that’s more than 2,500 years old, mile one starts in the town of Marathon near the Aegean Sea and climbs up towards Athens, taking in ancient sites along the way. After panting around the challenging uphill course, you’ll welcome the finish line at Panathinaiko Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896.
Solar Eclipse Marathon, Australia, 14 November 2012
A solar eclipse and a marathon: two bucket list favourites for the price of one. The rays of the sun re-emerging from behind the moon will initiate the start gun for the world's first Solar Eclipse Marathon in Port Douglas, Australia. Passing beaches, old mining roads and ‘Crocodile Creek’, the 26 mile route takes you right into the heart of Australia’s tropical north. The ‘once in a lifetime’ run is limited to 2,000 runners, with a half marathon up for grabs, too.
Berlin Marathon, September 2012
Part of the marathon series the World Marathon Majors, which also features Boston, Chicago, London and New York, the Berlin Marathon course is reknowned for its flatness, which makes it perfect for first timers and those looking for a PB. If you’ve never been to Berlin, it’s great for sightseeing too, taking in historic landmarks such as the Potsdamer Platz, Berliner Dom, Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate.
Boston Marathon, USA, April 2013
Running the Boston Marathon is a lifetime goal even for veteran runners in the USA. Starting outside the city, the course winds through several New England towns and ends in the centre of Boston. 26.2 miles and the notorious Heartbreak Hill lie between you and the finish line of America’s oldest and most prestigious race.
If you're after adrenalin on holiday, how about feeling your muscles burn on the legendary cols of the Tour de France, climbing Kilimanjaro or tackling Everest Base Camp? Check out all our extreme trips.