It’s this year’s Virgin London Marathon on Sunday and I don’t know about you, but whenever I watch it, it gives me the urge to get involved with something similar myself. I was actually lucky enough (I’m not entirely sure that’s the term I’m looking for…) to run the London Marathon back in 2010, so now I want something a bit different. World-famous city marathons such as those in Boston, Athens and Paris are all well and good, but I thought I’d research some that are a little out of the ordinary. If, like me, you fancy taking on the challenge of a marathon for yourself, here are some of the most fun, quirky and downright bizarre marathons that you can take part in around the world.
1) EDP Rock ‘n’ Roll Lisbon Marathon, Portugal
Although in the relatively normal yet beautiful surroundings of Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon, what I love about this marathon is that along the course, competitors will find themselves entertained by no less than 30 live bands as they run. Cheerleaders and themed water stations are the norm on this lively marathon too.
2) Walt Disney World® Marathons, USA
Can you imagine anything more magical than running a marathon through actual Walt Disney World® Resort in Orlando? There are a number of themed half marathons throughout the year, such as the Star Wars™ Half Marathon or the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. But register now and you could run in the spectacular 25th anniversary full marathon next January.
3) Niagara Falls International Marathon, USA & Canada
Now, this one sounds pretty impressive. Not only do you finish the race at the very edge of Niagara Falls itself, but you’ll also need your passport. That’s right; you actually start the marathon in the USA and finish in Canada! But don’t worry; you’re cleared for customs before you start, so it won’t affect your finish time.
4) Antarctic Ice Marathon, the Antarctic
Not for the feint-hearted; this marathon is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s the only marathon in the world to take place inside the Antarctic and sees competitors facing snowy and icy conditions and wind chills of -20˚C; not to mention the altitude of 700 metres. I think I’ll give this one a miss… How about you?
5) International Marathon of Marrakech, Morocco
This marathon certainly got my attention. Not necessarily for the mild, Moroccan running temperatures, the roadside camels or the stunning backdrop of the Atlas Mountains. But more for the lack of toilets. And by lack, I mean zero. This may be one of the flattest and fastest marathons in the world, but it’s one with the least frills too.
6) Kilimanjaro Marathon, Tanzania
Wait, now hear me out! You won’t actually have to run up the mountain as part of this marathon. Instead, you can focus your attention on its magnificence as you run along old roads with the world’s highest free-standing mountain watching over you. You build up to a fair incline at the halfway point, but then it’s all downhill from there.
7) The Great Wall Marathon, China
If you’re up for a serious challenge, this is by far one of the hardest marathons in the world. Not only is running 26.2 miles tough enough as it is, but runners of this marathon also have to tackle an unbelievable 5,164 steps as you run along the iconic Great Wall of China. It makes my legs hurt just thinking about it! But wow, what an experience.
8) Inca Trail Marathon to Machu Picchu, Peru
This marathon could easily rival the Great Wall Marathon in terms of toughness. Taking place in one of the world’s most fascinating locations, there are no bibs or spectators; just hardcore trail runners negotiating the Inca Trail’s uneven terrain on a journey to the ancient lost city of Machu Picchu. Sounds amazing, right?
9) Midnight Sun Marathon, Norway
Taking place in the breathtaking surroundings of Norway’s lush landscapes, there’s something quite unique about the world’s most northern marathon. As it’s held in the summer, the sun never sets, so the race actually starts at 20:30 and continues through the night in broad daylight. Hopefully the stunning scenery and wildlife will distract you from the cold temperatures.
10) The Big Five Marathon, South Africa
This has by far got to be one of the scariest marathons. As the name suggests, you’ll find yourself running right through the heart of the African savannah, with nothing separating you from the resident wildlife. You have the potential to see leopards, lions, buffalos, elephants and rhinos. Well, at least it’ll keep you running!
11) Australian Outback Marathon, Australia
Head off the beaten track and take part in this challenging but incredible run through Australian’s famous outback. Make your way through the bush, along fire trails and over sand dunes, on an unforgettable adventure. The whole experience is made worthwhile around the 22 mile mark, when the colossal Ayers Rock comes into view.
Which one do you most like the sound of? Am I missing any off the list that you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments below.