great wall marathon

Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or training for your very first marathon, finishing a 26.2-mile race is quite the feat. Instead of participating in your typical or ho-hum run with nothing to look at but other runners, how about getting distracted and seeing incredible sights in faraway marathons? Pick a race that exposes you to stunning scenery, iconic historical landmarks and more to keep it exciting and hopefully make the run as painless as possible.

Here are some of the best marathons around the world that are far from run-of-the-mill.

Great Wall Marathon, Tianjin, China
Every year on the third Saturday in May, extreme marathoners take on what some claim is the most challenging marathon in the world: The Great Wall Marathon. On May 21, 2016, runners will climb more than 5,164 steps of the Great Wall, and finish by running through Chinese villages. In general, this race takes runners about 50 percent longer to complete than an average marathon due to the Great Wall’s extreme ascents and descents – there’s an 8-hour time limit to finish. In addition to getting the opportunity to run on the Great Wall of China, runners take on this challenge for the stunning 360-degree views of the Chinese countryside, scenic villages and rice fields, and the villagers and children who cheer you on. Oh, and bragging rights.

Big Five Marathon, Limpopo, South Africa
On June 25, 2016, you can take a run – not walk – on the wild side in the Big Five Marathon. It’s not just a race; it’s also an African safari through the hills and valleys of Entabeni Game Reserve in the Waterberg district of South Africa. Runners get up close views of zebras, giraffes and antelope. One leg of the course even takes runner through lion territory. The start time of this marathon depends on the location of the big five game: lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards and rhinos.

Athens Authentic Marathon
This marathon, which is one of the biggest sporting events in Greece, is on November 13 this year. The race course follows the course of the original 26.2-mile run from the ancient city of Marathon to Athens by the Greek soldier Pheidippides in 490 BC [EDITOR’S NOTE: Pheidippides keeled over dead after delivering the message he was carrying; consider yourself warned]. The challenging course begins near the Aegean Sea and climbs up to Athens with the finish line at the Panathenaic Stadium where the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896. Plus, the course takes runners through the hills of Athens on the same route as the 2004 summer Olympics.

Virgin Money London Marathon
This marathon’s route passes England’s most iconic landmarks, including Big Ben, the Tower of London and the London Eye. This flat, fast race in April starts in Blackheath at Greenwich Park in southeast London, zig zags through the city, and ends in front of Buckingham Palace, running along the River Thames and across the Tower Bridge. If the whirlwind sight-seeing tour isn’t enough for you, rest assured you’ll have plenty to see other than the landmarks – this race also boasts entertainment and crazy costumes on the sidelines along the way.

Patagonian International Marathon
Whether you’re a seasoned marathon runner or are running your first one, this race boasts a grand panoramic view of Chilean Patagonia’s landscapes. The race is in the Torres del Paine National Park, which is considered the best national park in South America with its massive glaciers, lakes and granite mountains. If a 26.2-mile marathon isn’t enough, this race also offers up the option of an ultramarathon.

Do you have any favorites you’d like to share?

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About The Author

Nicole Jenet is a writer at Scribewise. There's nothing she loves more than the feeling of warm sand beneath her feet and trying new, exotic cuisine. Visit

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