A blog by runners. For runners.

Five destination marathon races

People say that races are a celebration of running. And what better place to celebrate than the California coast, a tropical locale, or the “happiest place on Earth”?

Nowadays, it's common for runners to combine races and vacation time. With so many marathons being held in popular destinations, it's no mystery why runners want to spend a few extra days in paradise.

Consider adding these popular destination races to your calendar:

  1. Big Sur International Marathon
    Where: Big Sur to Carmel, Calif.
    When: April 28, 2013 (sold out) / April 27, 2014
    Why: The Big Sur International Marathon runs along Highway 1, offering stunning views of the Pacific Ocean on the left and magnificent mountain views on the right. This race is renowned equally for its beauty and challenging ascents. Bart Yasso of Runner's World says this is a “must do in your lifetime” marathon. If 26.2 miles is too much for you, Big Sur also offers a 21-miler, 10.6-miler, 9-miler, 5k, and relay options. There's even a Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge, for runners who want to run the Boston Marathon and then take on Big Sur only two weeks later. This year's race is sold out so keep an eye out on the site and mark your calendar for next year, or register here for one of the other races that weekend.
  2. New York City Marathon
    Where: New York City

    When: November 3, 2013.
    Why: Running through the concrete jungle tops many runners' to-do lists, making the NYC marathons one of the most popular races in the world — more than 45,000 people were registered to run this year before Hurricane Sandy hit. The NYC marathon attracts elite marathoners, has a late start time, takes you through all five boroughs, and finishes in idyllic Central Park. But unless you're super speedy or meet strict New York Road Runners' requirements, getting into the NYC marathon is a matter of luck. You can sign up for the lottery beginning April 24, 2013. It may seem like a long-shot, but if you try three consecutive years in a row and get denied, you're guaranteed entry on your fourth round. Or run the race for one of many charities, including MMRF.

  3. Athens Marathon
    Where: Athens, Greece
    When: November 10, 2013
    Why: Run the original marathon! In 490 BC, the citizen-soldiers of Athens fought the Persian Army for democracy in the village of Marathon. After the Athenians' victory, messenger Phidippides ran 24 miles to Athens to spread the news  and the modern marathon was born. The Athens marathon takes you over the exact ground that Phidippides ran and you finish in Athens' Olympic Stadium — birthplace of the Olympic Games. There's a 5k and 10k race, too.
  4. Walt Disney World Marathon
    Where: Walt Disney World Resort outside of Orlando, Fla.

    When: Jan. 12, 2014
    Why: Runners run through the Disney parks and even the characters come out to cheer you on. Disney is known for its top-notch organization, volunteers, and temperate weather in January. During the marathon weekend, which starts January 8, Disney boasts a race distance for everyone — even the youngest mousketeers can choose from a one mile run to a diaper dash. Grown-ups can run a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or full marathon. Feeling Goofy? Take on the half and full marathons and earn an extra Goofy medal. Feeling Dopey? Run all four races (they're each held different days), and take home a medal for each race, plus the Dopey and Goofy medals — that's 6 pieces of hardware!
  5. Bermuda Marathon
    Where: Hamilton, Bermuda

    When: Jan. 19, 2014
    Why: It's not every day that most of us get to run aside crystal clear waters, pink sand, and pastel-colored buildings — especially in the middle of January! But the Bermuda Marathon gives runners just that. Since it's just a short flight away from most eastern U.S. cities, race directors say “Bermuda only feels like it's a million miles away.” The weekend starts January 17 with a one-mile race on Thursday, a 10k on Friday, and a full and half-marathon on Sunday. If you feel ambitious, take on the Bermuda Triangle Challenge or the Bermuda Triangle Half Challenge and run three races in three days.

Have you ever run any of the above destination race? What would make your list
of top destination races?

Written by Jenilee Matz, MPH. Jen is writer, runner, and new(ish) mom living in the suburbs of Charlotte, N.C.