Runners have been building urban mini-breaks around the big-city marathons in London, New York and Berlin for years. A new breed of even more adventurous athlete is now designing bucket-list holidays around unique races in the wilderness. We’ve found five packages offering 5k fun runs up to full 26 milers – and all with once-in-a-lifetime backdrops…
1. Sporting Safari
Albatros Adventure Marathons lays on some epic trips, but its jewel is probably the Big Five Marathon. Head to South Africa for six days in June 2020 and, when you’re not running 26 miles alongside zebras, giraffes and antelopes, you’ll be treated to safari drives in Entabeni Private Game Reserve. There’s an option to tag on extra days exploring Namibia and Victoria Falls. Six days full board, flights and transfers plus race entry costs around £1,580.
The trip runs from 18th to 23rd June 2020. Register here.
2. Run A Road Trip
The meandering coastal route around California’s Big Sur is best known as a drive. Next April, however, there’s a chance to head out to the West Coast for the world’s largest rural marathon. Its beautiful course takes in Californian redwoods, local ranches and, of course, the Pacific Ocean in all its surfer-filled glory. The marathon is sold out, but you can still book as part of a tour package; or take on the Boston 2 Big Sur challenge, which covers 11-mile or 12km distances instead.
The Big Sur International Marathon is on 26th April 2020. Tour package details here.
3. See The Northern Lights (Hopefully)
There are no guarantees with the Northern Lights. They might come out for you; they might not. But head to Oslo on 4th January 2020 for the Polar Night half marathon, 10km or 5km races and you’ll give yourself a decent chance of catching them. Just don’t let the race’s name confuse you: it starts at 3pm. An Arctic marathon raises a new set of challenges for runners (spikes or no spikes?) but the payoff is huge. Locals fondly refer to the race as the Run in the Blue because of its very special backdrop.
4th January 2020; entry costs £55. Register here.
4. Experience The Inca Trail
To protect the ancient Peruvian city of Machu Picchu, tourist permits are limited each year. One way you’ll definitely get in is by taking on this nine-day adventure. After a day of sightseeing and acclimatisation in Cusco, you’ll hit the trail for a series of hikes and short runs over four days. All of that is just a build-up for day six, when a marathon takes you along dirt trails, up hundreds of ancient steps, across a 13,800ft mountain pass and into cloud forest. At mile 26, you enter Machu Picchu itself.
The trip begins on 1st August 2020 and costs around £2,750. Register here.
5. Outback Adventure
The Australian Outback Marathon is dusty, sandy and epic. It takes runners through the Northern Territory bush via Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), heading up Jem’s Dune for some breath-taking red-earth views. Choose from a full or half marathon, or 11km or 6km distances. Three, four, five and six-day packages are available from around £700.
The marathon is on 25th July 2020. Register here.
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