Top 13 Places To Run A Marathon

As Cairo’s long-waited-for 3rd half marathon is taking place tomorrow in Heliopolis, making it very uncommon to spot someone running in the streets, getting ready for the upcoming big event. The remarkable rise, and interest in sports, and healthy living has significantly grown in the last couple of years, which is a great move reflecting lots of positive change in our habits, traditions, and culture.

Marathon - blog

Instead of traveling the world to go shopping, sightseeing, or just relaxing, now a significant number -that cannot be ignored- of Egyptians would travel locally, domestically, or even around the world to run a marathon, to participate in a triathlon, or a cycling race. Since I personally am into sports, excited about this positive change, and very keen to witness the impact 5 years from now, making a list of the world’s top marathons that are worth traveling for was a must.

Before getting started you should note that about every American state, and European country, or even city organize their own yearly marathon, though I am mentioning some of them, those that are typically and commonly known, I am here to tell you enough Europe, enough U.S., time to run one of those off-the-beaten-path marathons.

   The Big Five Marathon


How about running a marathon while being on safari in the wilderness with no fences, barriers, or anything that separates you from Africa’s big five -elephants, rhinos, buffaloes, lions and leopards? Maybe that’s one way to keep you moving, and running as if there is no tomorrow -not for the faint-hearted though ;). To get you into the mood, the start time of race usually depends on the location of the big five on the day of the race. It’s a technical race as the course is tough, hilly, for God’s sake you are running in the wild, so you’d better be well prepared. If you are more into Kenyan safaris, then Safaricom Marathon is a must. (Photo courtesy: Big Five Marathon’s website)

  • Where? Limpopo – South Africa
  • When? June

   The Great Wall of China Marathon


If running, climbing, and crawling is what you’re looking forward to then go for the 5,164 steps into history of the Great Wall of China. Not only you will be enjoying an off-the-beaten-path race, but being part of a challenge in a place with so much history, dramatic views of the countryside, the surrounding rural villages, and above all locals, and visitors cheering for the runners, spreading all sorts of positive vibes. (Photo courtesy: The Great Wall of China’s website)

  • Where? Tianjin – China
  • When? May
  • Registration: This one is not only challenging, but very expensive

   Sparkasse Marathon der 3 Länder


Interested to run 3 countries at a time? This race is your chance to be; as you start in Germany, run through Austria, making a quick stop in Switzerland, then back to Austria to end the race. It’s the kind of postcards-like trails, the course is pretty flat specially the part around Lake Constance, with some cobblestones roads, and gravel trails. (Photo courtesy: Sparkasse Marathon’s webiste)

  • Where? Lindau Island – Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Austria.
  • When? October
  • Registration: 80-87 US $

   Boston Marathon


No list is complete without Boston Marathon, it’s the oldest in the U.S., and one of the most prestigious in the world. A life long goal it is even for avid runners, the reason behind its importance and fame is how challenging it is, and how many years of previous training, and participation in marathons it requires; not anybody can participate in Boston Marathon, racers must qualify with a time based on age and gender from another marathon run in the past year and a half in order to be eligible to participate. (Photo courtesy: Boston Marathon’s website)

  • Where? Boston, Massachusetts – U.S.A.
  • When? April
  • Registration: 175-225 US $

   Istanbul EurAsia Marathon


In this marathon you won’t be crossing the borders of different countries, but of different continents, how cool is that! (Photo courtesy: Istanbul Marathon’s website)

  • Where? Istanbul -Turkey
  • When? November
  • Registration: 30-60 US $

   Jungfrau Marathon


That’s one of the most scenic trails an athlete could ever run, however the views come for a very “demanding” price. You start the marathon running on a flat 10k trail along the lovely Lake Brienz, don’t get fooled because as you continue you’ll be taken to the next level of relentless hills that get harder the more you approach the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains. Once you reach the finish line “the mountaintop” you will be welcomed by a legendary panoramic view of the Swiss Alps at 2,100 meters above sea level.

  • Where? Interlaken – Switzerland
  • When? September
  • Registration: 165 US $

   Rock ‘n’ Roll Maratona de Lisboa


The best thing about this marathon is how un-technical it is “more or less flat”, offering lots of entertainment to the runners, as well as their audience. With more than 30 live bands on the course, the race starts in the beach town of Cascais, continues along the banks of the Tagus River, and ends in the heart of the capital city of Lisbon giving a chance to marvel at beautiful European architecture, historic castles, and churches, and of course Europe’s longest bridge of Vasco de Gama. Another beach themed marathon that is worth traveling for is Athens. (Photo credit: Lisboa Marathon’s website)

  • Where? Lisbon – Portugal
  • When? October
  • Registration: 109-126 US $

Also some of Europe’s worthiest marathons are: Amsterdam’s, Berlin’s, London’s, Paris’, Rome’s, Venice’s, Florence’s, Dublin’s, Athens’, and Flanders Marathon that is run on World War 1 battlefields.

   Kilimanjaro Marathon


Don’t get fooled by the name, no you won’t actually climb Africa’s highest peak, and the world’s highest freestanding mountain running, that’s not even possible :), however you will be surrounded by its beauty, along with lush greenery, and locals who would add lots of positive energy to this pretty hectic race, which include some slopes, and is run in hot sort of tropical weather. (Photo courtesy: Rachel Steinfeld)

  • Where? Moshi -Tanzania
  • When? March
  • Registration: 30-60 US $

   Marathon du Medoc


With all the entertainment involved, and the “too much going on” in this event, it’s hard to believe that it’s a marathon to be run at some point; it’s all about the audience, and the runners who are dressed in the quirkiest costumes ever, the run that starts with acrobats, and offers all-you-can-eat oysters, cheese and ice cream near the end, and above all being surrounded by beautiful vineyards. (Photo courtesy: Paco CT)

  • Where? Pauillac – France
  • When? September
  • Registration: 111 US $

   Patagonian International Marathon 


The coolest thing about this eco-friendly marathon is that for each runner who completes the race, a tree is planted in his/her honor, how awesome is that? This marathon is only 3 years old, however is getting lots of attention by those who have special interest in unspoiled nature. (Photo courtesy: Patagonian International Marathon’s website)

  • Where? Torres del Paine National Park – Chile
  • When? September
  • Registration: 110-170 US $

   Niagara Falls International Marathon 


Another crossing borders marathon, that’s totally worth the paperwork done. The run starts in Buffalo, New York in the U.S., and finishes in Ontario’s Niagara Falls in Canada. (Photo courtesy: Greg Knapp)

  • Where? Buffalo (New York) in the U.S. – Ontario in Canada
  • When? October
  • Registration: 87-109 US $

   Petra Desert Marathon


Petra is one of those destinations well worth being on everyone’s travel wish list, imagine yourself running through the walls of an ancient city that was literally carved in stones, the marathon course is a scenic route taking you through stunning mountains and desert landscape. (Photo courtesy: Petra Desert Marathon’s website)

  • Where? Petra – Jordan
  • When? September
  • Registration: 280 US $

More options for regional marathons that are worth running; Dubai’s , Palestine’s, Beirut’s, Marrakesh’s and definitely Cairo’s.

And the toughest footrace on earth as ranked by Discovery Channel, and most challenging of all goes to…

   Marathon Des Sables

It’s more than enough to tell you that you will have run under the scorching heat of the Sahara Desert, the equivalent of five and a half marathons in five or six days, with a total distance of some 251 km*. (*which is subject to the race route).

  • Where? Morocco’s Sahara desert

Are you excited to participate at any of the above? Did we miss any international marathons that should be on your bucket list? Tell us in the comments below!


Have something to say...