A Go-To Guide To International Racing

The Berlin Marathon is one of the fastest courses in the world. Photo: www.shutterstock.com


Lyrical languages, jaw-dropping vistas, exotic foods and running a race — what’s not to love?!

Traveling overseas to run a race is an exciting way to broaden your running repertoire and experience one-of-a-kind adventures in places ideal for family- and friend-pleasing vacations. (Remember, they’re the ones who put up with your constant training!) While racing and travel can each have their high-anxiety moments, smart preparation and a good attitude are the catalysts to a memorable trip.

Where should you start? Put your finger on the globe and give it a spin! While most international big city events are similar in race organization and attention to detail as what you know in the U.S., you’ll find cultural differences at every race. Selecting smaller, off-the-beaten races can result in more colorful and unique experiences, as well as sometimes unavoidable or inexplicable challenges — especially when it comes to trail running events and ultra-distance races.

No matter what event you choose, keep in mind these experiential tips:

— Run for the experience, not necessarily a personal best. Enter your race with a range of goals in mind, but be realistic. You may be running on cobblestones, racing in oppressive humidity or sharing the route with commuting villagers, livestock and pack mules.

— Have a good attitude and a sense of humor. Even without language barriers, understanding the course map and race protocol can be a challenge. The course markings may be far from accurate, in another language, in the wrong order or even upside down. Plus, the race may or may not start on time.

— Have an open mind, a sense of adventure and respect for the locals. Expect that you’ll have to make adjustments. “What do you mean there’s no fresh juice bar or cell reception, and the power goes off at 9 p.m.?” If a race website says “stream crossing,” it might really mean class III rapids.

— Consider packing your own race-day fuel. The best way to ensure you’ll have what you’ll need before and during the race is to pack your owns gels and fluids.

— Know that things can go sideways. Plan in advance for the unexpected and you’ll be preparing your next globe-trotting adventure before you cross the finish line.

RELATED: Competitor.com’s Race Calendar

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