Top Five Dream Destination Races

I consider myself a “recreational runner” in the sense that I incorporate running into my lifestyle because aside from its health benefits, it’s fun!  I don’t do it as a profession, for prestige or bragging rights, or anything remotely in that direction.  As such, I do have a very long list of dream destination races around the world I would like to join in.  But if I have to trim my list to five items, here are the ones that would come on top of my mind as of the moment (in no particular order).

New York City Marathon (The ING New York City Marathon)

I have for so long wanted to join this race because it’s usually held on or around my birthday, every first Sunday of November.  It is one of the largest races in the world, one of the World Marathon Majors, and is an IAAF Gold Label race.  Joining though isn’t as easy as you have to be drawn in the lottery to have the privilege of signing up.  I don’t always win in raffles and I’m not in a hurry, but I’m definitely joining this hopefully not too far in the future!

Marathon de New York : Verrazano Bridge
New York City Marathon on the Verrazano Bridge
(Creative Commons; courtesy Martineric)

Venice Marathon (Maratona di Venezia)

Visiting Venice alone is already a dream come true, and if I had to run a marathon through it I’d just be out of words on how to describe it!  Imagine running on countless bridges crossing the numerous canals of Venice… man I’m daydreaming already!  This event is usually held every October and I think we should do this in the near future with the threat of rising sea levels and all.

Ahhh Venezia!
(Creative Commons; courtesy Arian Zwegers)

Great Wall Marathon (黄崖关)

One of mankind’s greatest architectural feat—who would’ve thought that you can actually run on the Great Wall of China?  Of course even the longest ultramarathons may not be enough to cover the entire wall’s length, but just running on a portion of the wall is exciting in itself.  But with the phrase “5,164 steps of the Great Wall” in the event’s Facebook page I wonder if it’s also a vertical marathon.

Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China: are those flights of stairs?!
(Creative Commons; courtesy Matt Barber)

Inca Trail Marathon

This has got to be one of the most “exotic” races on the planet.  It follows the original pilgrimage trail that leads into the religious capital of the Inca Empire, the legendary “Lost City of the Incas”—Machu Picchu.  According to Runner’s World, it is a “marathon in distance, but an Ultra in effort” as it’s set in high altitude.  It’s probably more of an adventure rather than a race as you can camp out if you can’t finish it in a day (seriously?!).  Luckily for us Filipinos, we do not need a visa to visit Peru!

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu: yes it is on top of a mountain!
(Creative Commons; courtesy Brian Snelson)

Athens Classic Marathon (Κλασικός Μαραθώνιος της Αθηνών)

The marathon was one of the original modern Olympic events in 1896 and was in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides from Marathon to Athens.  If you’re a runner and you’re fascinated by history, I can’t imagine a better place to start running a marathon other than its birthplace, Marathon.  The Athens Classic Marathon traces the route of the 1896 Olympic course, starting in Marathon on the eastern coast of Attica, site of the Battle of Marathon of 490 BC, and ending at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens.  It is also an IAAF Gold Label race and is usually held every November.

Panathinaiko Stadium
Panathenaic Stadium, host of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, is the only major stadium in the world built entirely of white marble and is also the finishing point of Athens Classic Marathon
(Creative Commons; courtesy Andrew Smith)

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Picking just five among a myriad of races around the world was really, really tough!  Nonetheless, it’s better to start somewhere, and writing it makes it a plan.

Some of the other destination races that didn’t make the cut include the World Marathon Majors and IAAF Gold Label races (Boston Marathon may be shooting for the moon, but who knows :D), and basically any races passing through a historic site or a tropical beach.

I don’t think that a race has to be in an exotic or expensive place to be a dream destination worthy of our time and money—it just have to offer something that no other race can.  We have lots of these places in the Philippines, and I’ve barely seen anything so far.  And I’m sure every runner out there who has a taste for adventure and travel also has their own list—I’ve shared mine, what’s in your “bucket list?”

* For those who don’t want to go too far, the nearest IAAF Gold Label race to the Philippines is the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore.  You may read about my experience about this race here. 🙂

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One Comment Add yours

  1. blastiangco says:

    Thanks for sharing about the Athens Classic Marathon. Now I have another race I would like to do aside from the Comrades Marathon.


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