Some of the best cities in the world also happen to host marathons that are worth traveling for. Runners find that the combination of the location, the history associated with the event, and the overall fun factor play a role on deciding which marathons to participate in. In the first part, I’ve highlighted those in major cities like San Francisco, Chicago and New York. On this list, we’ll not only look at those in American soil but also travel to parts of Europe and Africa. Here are more of the best marathon cities for travelers.
Best Marathon Cities for Travelers
Honolulu Marathon – Honolulu, Hawaii
Hawaii brings images of palm trees, high surf and tropical breeze and that’s exactly what you’ll get at the Honolulu Marathon. The course that begins at Ala Moana Beach Park travels through most of Oahu’s south shore and follows the path of the Pacific Ocean. It’s the perfect marathon for beginners because of its relatively flat route and no time limit requirement. Some of the attractions along the course include Diamond Head, Wailupe Beach Park, Honolulu Harbor and the famed Waikiki Beach. After the race, hydrate with fresh coconut water or a mai tai at the nearest luau and book a much deserved massage at one of the five-star accommodations in Honolulu overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
When: December 11, 2016
Napa Valley Marathon – Napa, California
The Napa Valley Marathon might not reach the scale of its cousin in San Francisco (it only has a couple of thousand runners) but that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth attending. To some participants, the fact that it’s small might prove to be preferable because it will not be as crowded. Those who run for the sake of being close to nature will appreciate the rolling hills and wildflowers that line the route. Also any runners who share the love for wine will undoubtedly rank the Napa Valley Marathon one of the best marathon cities for travelers. Finally, when you cross the finish line, celebrate with a glass (or two) from some of the valley’s finest vineyards.
When: March 5, 2017
Paris Marathon – Paris, France
Paris is best seen on foot and what better way to do that than to run the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris. The 26.2-mile course follows the pathway along the Seine and passes through some of the City of Light’s most recognizable structures: Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe. Close to 40,000 people participate annually, making it not only one of the most popular but also one of the best marathon cities for travelers around the world. What’s more? Marathoners and their family and friends can feast on delicious sweets from patisseries that line up Rue de Bac upon crossing the finish line.
When: April 9, 2017
London Marathon – London, England
England’s capital city is always a great place to visit, which makes it one of the best marathon cities for travelers. Runners will get a chance to take the grand tour of London in just several hours as opposed to several days when they jog pass iconic sites like the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. Scenic views combined with some serious history lessons might be a bit much for some runners of the Virgin Money London Marathon, but just consider the fact that you’ll end the race at Buckingham Palace and get to enjoy the roar of the crowds typically reserved for royalty in that location. Also, you can reward yourself with a classic pint from one of the many historical pubs like the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese or the Lamb and Flag.
When: April 23, 2017
Boston Marathon – Boston, Massachusetts
Even though it was struck by tragedy several years ago, the Boston Marathon remains one of the most prestigious race and best marathon cities for travelers in the United States and the world. Not only is it the oldest race in the United States, it’s also a highly competitive one. Qualification requirements include a previous marathon run and a time qualification based on age and gender. Held annually in the spring, runners begin the 26.2-mile course in the rural town of Hopkinton and follows Route 135 through the smaller towns of Natick and Wellesley, before ending in Boston’s Copley Square. Cap off race day with a beer from one of the city’s best taverns or head towards the waterfront to indulge on fresh seafood.
When: April 17, 2017
Big Five Marathon – Waterberg District, South Africa
The ultimate and quite possibly one of the best marathon cities for travelers takes place inside the Entabeni Game Reserve in the Waterberg district of South Africa. Marathon runners will get the opportunity to test their endurance and strength alongside Africa’s big five, as they traverse the tough terrain and ascend hills that aren’t meant for just anyone. The reward in participating in the Big Five Marathon however, is close-up views of giraffes, zebras, even lions.
When: June 24, 2017