10 Amazing International Races

The Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland. Photo courtesy of the Jungfrau Marathon.

One of the great things about running a race in another country is that you get to see the sights and experience the culture of another place while still doing what you love most. No matter where you go, you’ll find that there is a universal language of running. Consider these vacation-worthy races in the near future.

Tokyo Marathon

Feb. 28, Tokyo

Tokyo is one of the world’s great running centers. The course takes in some of the most spectacular sights in the Japanese capital, starting at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building as it swings past the Imperial Palace, the huge Hibiya city park, Ginza’s upmarket shopping area and the Buddhist temple within the ancient geisha district of Asakusa, to name but a few. (Marathon.tokyo/en)

London Marathon

April 24, London

Run like a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Like all big city marathons, this one is very hard to enter, but there are slots set aside for Marathon Tours & Travel. The race is run on a fast and flat course that winds along the River Thames before reaching the dramatic finish in The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace. Dine on fish and chips washed down with a fine ale. (virginmoneylondonmarathon.com)

Prague Marathon

May 8, Prague

Prague, the 14th largest city in Europe, was one of the few that wasn’t decimated by bombing during World War II, which means many buildings dating back to the 18th century are intact. Now in its 20th year, the Prague Marathon is one of the world’s most international marathons, with two-thirds of runners coming from 55 other countries. The course generally follows the Vltava River, starting and finishing in Old Town Square between Wenceslas Square and the Charles Bridge. (praguemarathon.com/en)

The Great Wall Marathon

May 21, Tianjin, China

Put this once-in-a-lifetime race on your bucket list, but train as if you’re going to run an ultra-distance mountain race. While it’s only a 26.2-mile marathon, it features a ridiculous amount of vertical gain and drop on steep staircases as the Great Wall of China—the only manmade element visible from space—winds through the countryside. (great-wall-marathon.com)

Mont Blanc Marathon

June 26, Chamonix, France

The Mont Blanc Marathon is just what it sounds like: A marathon run in the heart of one of the world’s trail running meccas. While the first half of the race sends runners on smooth, flat, rolling paths through several villages, the second half is mostly on singletrack trails that climb to a mountaintop finish at the Brevent ski area more than 5,000 feet above the starting line on the valley floor. (Montblancmarathon.net/en)

Jungfrau Marathon

Sept. 10, Interlaken, Switzerland

One of the world’s great trail running races, the Jungfrau Marathon starts out with a flat initial 10K along Lake Brienz, but then sends runners up a relentless climb toward the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains. The mountaintop finish at nearly 7,000 feet above sea level is truly amazing, offering stunning scenery at the heart of the Swiss Alps.(jungfrau-marathon.ch/en)

Cape Town Marathon

Sept. 18, Cape Town

The Cape Town Marathon has earned rave reviews in recent years as a first-class international marathon, especially since South African running legend Elana Meyer and rugby icon Francois Pienaar have become the principal figureheads of the race organization. The picturesque course starts in Green Point Urban Park near the sea and takes runners along Cape Town Harbor, through the city, along the tree-lined streets of the outlying neighborhoods below Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain, and past iconic landmarks in the city center—including the place where Nelson Mandela gave his first speech upon being released from prison in 1990—before finishing in Cape Town Stadium. (capetownmarathon.com)

Patagonian International Marathon

Sept. 24, Patagonia, Chile

This marathon sends runners onto the rolling gravel roads and dirt paths of Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia. Runners in each of the four races (10K, 21K, 42K and 63K) set off from separate, remote starting lines, but ultimately wind up at the same finishing point inside the preserved parklands. Each course offers breathtaking scenery and unique features, including multicolored lakes, majestic peaks or roaring rivers. (patagonianinternationalmarathon.com/en)

Berlin Marathon

Sept. 25, Berlin

One of the fastest marathons every year (partially because it has a world-class field), the Berlin Marathon has been the site of nine world records over the past 18 years. The course winds through the Berlin metropolis and starts and finishes near the Brandenburg Tate, the city’s famous 18th century neoclassical triumphal arch. (bmw-berlin-marathon.com/en)

Rock ‘n’ Roll Lisbon Half Marathon

Oct. 2, Lisbon

Part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series’ growing collection of international races, this race has more than 30 live bands on the course and gives a tour of the Portuguese capital. Runners take on a flat, point-to-point race that starts in the beach town of Cascais, travels along the banks of the Tagus River and over the stunning Vasco de Gama Bridge—the longest bridge in Europe—and ends in the city center. (pt.competitor.com/portugal)


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