No Sweat! 9 Marathons Worth Hopping on a Plane For

Jo Piazza
·Managing Editor

So you want to run a marathon? Since you’re already setting the bar high for yourself, you might as well make the event as momentous as possible and plan a trip around it.

For today’s runners, marathons aren’t just about completing the race. They’re about completing the race in style, and in an amazing location. Runners are choosing their races based as much on destination as the number of hills they’ll have to endure.

We tapped two of our favorite running gurus, Chris Heuisler, better known as Westin’s Running Concierge and John Bingham, author of “An Accidental Athlete,” to tell us about a few of their favorite races, both in the United States and abroad. 

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Many American runners consider London to be the greatest international marathon out there. (Photo: Thinkstock)

London — April 2015
London has it all — a fantastic elite field of runners, a historic world-record course, and phenomenal crowd support, all in one of the world’s most beautiful cities. One of the great things about this race is that they accept runners and walkers of all levels.

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The views don’t get much better than this. (Photo: BSIM.org)

Big Sur — April 2015 
The Big Sur marathon is one of the largest rural marathons in the world. This race allows you to wind through the redwoods and along the Pacific Ocean. Have kids who are budding runners? Send them to the 3K out-and-back course along Ocean View Boulevard for their first fun run.

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Start taking the stairs now if you want to train for the Great Wall marathon. (Photo: Great Wall Marathon)

The Great Wall —  May 2015
If steep inclines and stairs aren’t your thing, this might not be the race for you. Held along the Tianjin section of the wall, the course has steep ascents and 5,164 stone steps to climb.

Related: The Best Jobs on Earth — I’m a Hotel Running Concierge

Florence — November 2014
This race is incredible for so many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it takes place in Florence. The course starts at the Piazzale Michelangelo and runs past just about every important piece of Renaissance history in the city. You’ll want to bring your camera for this one.

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You need to book two or three years in advance to secure a spot in the Antarctica marathon. (Photo: Marathon Tours and Travel)

Antarctica  March 2015
Nothing really says badass like being able to tell people you ran a marathon in Antarctica. During this race, you will get up close and personal with icebergs, penguins, seals, and whales along the King George Island course. Make up your mind quick … for 2017. Races for 2015 and 2016 are already sold out.

Related: Model Teresa Moore’s Favorite Running Spots Around the World

Honolulu — December 2014

Start this race off on Ala Moana Beach Park, then make your way through Waikiki Beach, over Diamond Head, and into Koko Head Crater.

Finish out your race Hawaiian-style with a concert and luau. 

Las Vegas — November 2014
This rock ‘n’ roll marathon for all race levels proves that Vegas really is America’s fun city. It’s got everything from jogging Elvis impersonators to run-through wedding chapels. This year there’s even a performance by none other than Snoop Dogg. 

Related: Why Vegas Has the Craziest Marathon in the World

New York City — November 2014
It might be one of the harder races to get into, but it is absolutely one of the most iconic. No race in the world has more spirit and better energy than the New York City marathon. The course allows you to run through the five boroughs of New York uninterrupted, with roughly a million people cheering for you. If you’re a runner looking for a reason to visit New York City, search no farther than this memorable event.

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Make all your running buddies jealous with a marathon in Cambodia. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Angkor Wat — August 2015
How often do you get a chance to run through ancient ruins? The answer is, obviously, not often enough. The very first Angkor Empire Marathon in Siem Reap took place just last month and another is planned for August 2015. You will run through ancient temples and rice paddies during this relatively flat road race that completely transports you back in time.