I want to run the world?
March 21, 2016 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Global runners of MeFi - can you recommend any especially scenic races worth traveling for, to maybe make into a bit of a vacation? Probably not more (or much more) than the Half Marathon distance, but willing to travel anywhere.

I’m looking for a scenic, interesting race worth traveling for. “Vacation” doesn’t have to be warm or beachy, just in a different area worth exploring outside of a race - but maybe use a race to also help explore that destination. I like races where there’s interesting things to look at as your feet move on. I prefer colder temperatures, and am ideally looking for one this Fall to Winter, but other than that I’m pretty open to any suggestions and ideas.

[also, because I'm chasing my inner nonathletic 8-year old, some nice running bling would be extra awesome!]
posted by raztaj to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:12 PM on March 21, 2016

The Lakeland Trails are on my To Do list.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 1:28 PM on March 21, 2016

This isn't really, like, global, but I just completed the Disney Coast to Coast challenge and would definitely recommend a Disney race to someone looking for a travel-focused, novelty race. They've even started running them in Disneyland Paris, if you want to get out of the US!

Here's why:
  • Running through Disneyland in the wee hours before it opens is SUPER COOL
  • Lots of people run in costume
  • They offer races of distances from 5K to nearly 50 miles (by stacking multiple races into one weekend and getting bonus "challenge" medals), allowing you to challenge yourself as much or little as you want
  • The bling, even for shorter distances, is SUPER COOL. You will not be cheated if you choose to do a 10K instead of a half. This year, one of the medals I saw people wearing around was shaped like an X-Wing. I mean, COME ON.
Also, as a nonathletic person who doesn't consider themselves a runner, I really enjoyed getting to wear my big shiny Disney medal around Disneyland the next day and get lots of congratulations from people while I ate churros. I was by myself and people were super supportive, up to and including "Princess Aurora" getting kind of watery and giving me a hug while telling me how proud of me she was when she found out I was there alone.

The downside is that they are pricy to register for. Also, if you aren't interested in a Disney park on any level, it's not going to appeal. However, if any of the Disney race themes/locations strike your fancy, especially the ones in Disneyland, I highly recommend. Wonderful experiences.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 1:29 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've had the Patagonia marathon on my wishlist for a while. Less spectacular but in a similar neck of the woods, the Falkland Islands running club just had its annual marathon (billed as the world's most Southerly road marathon or something like that, if you're minded to go for points of the compass). I've done their half marathon a couple of times and have been known to see penguins and dolphins from the route.

In the UK, the Coastal Trail Series is pretty awesome. I've done their Northumberland half marathon three times and would absolutely recommend it. It's a combination of grassy trails, massive, stunning sandy beaches, and it starts and ends at two different coastal castles. It's also in late Feb/early Mar, so it's a good one for keeping you running through the winter. They have a 10K, half, marathon and ultra all on the same day, with overlapping routes and different start times, which makes for a good atmosphere - in the last few miles you could be running (and chatting if you've got the puff) with people from any of the four distances (the fields are all pretty small, though, so it's a small, friendly event even with all four distances). The bling has been of variable quality. I've not done any of the other Coastal Trail Series events and I think they vary considerably in difficulty, with Northumberland one of the easiest.

Not a million miles away from that are the Lakeland Trail Series in the Lake District, which are also stunning. They're hillier than the Northumberland route, but with plenty of people who walk the uphills and run the flats and the downhills. I've done the Ullswater 14K, which is stunning, and in early November. It starts with a boat ride across the lake with a man playing the guitar and singing running-related songs, then you get off on the other side of the lake and run back round. I've also done their marathon at Coniston, which was tough (my only marathon - yay!) though they do also have a half marathon on the same day. But it's in summer, and even the half is hilly, I think.

Also in the Lakes and in November is the Kendal 10K, which I did this year and was lovely - a very steep uphill on the way out (up an aptly-named road called Beast Banks) but then out across undulating grassy trails (well, considerably undulating). Once you were on top of the ridge you had stunning views of the snow on the tops of the hills all the way around the horizon. It's also part of the Kendal Mountain Festival so there are lots of adventure film screenings and talks going on, and a great atmosphere in town over the whole weekend.

Both the Lakes and Northumberland are stunning places to visit for more general holidays, and will have the advantage of being much less crowded in winter, though of course with the disadvantages of fewer things perhaps being open, it being dark by 4pm every day, and the weather being cold and sometimes wet. But they're beautiful.
posted by penguin pie at 1:42 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

Vienna City Marathon!
posted by Omnomnom at 1:59 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think of scenic as pavement-free. The aptly-named-for-this-question Vacation Races series is on my todo list (particularly the Smoky Mountains race). I also sometimes shell out for the Northern VA centric Ex2 trail races which usually include a decent number of non-local people since you can stay in DC to run them. If woodsy parks are your thing, they've got you covered.
posted by mattamatic at 2:31 PM on March 21, 2016

2nding Vacation Races. I did the Zion Half Marathon last year and it was fantastic! Very smooth, well organized and, well, Zion, one of the Most beautiful places on earth.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 2:42 PM on March 21, 2016

In Switzerland, a vertical half marathon, 2000 meter gain. August 20, 2016, with a snow warning. Inferno Half-Marathon, from Lauterbrunnen.
posted by xaryts at 3:51 PM on March 21, 2016

Any race on the Chicago Lakefront is worth doing. It's beautiful to run along the lakeshore and see the city. They tend to be the smaller races - the big half marthons and the marathon don't use the lakefront trail as it is too narrow for huge numbers. CARA (Chicago Area Runner's Association) is probably the place to start looking.

I run the lakefront 3 or 4 times a week and just don't get tired of it and when it's done you have the rest of Chicago to explore.
posted by srboisvert at 3:51 PM on March 21, 2016

2 Oceans in Cape Town.
posted by mrfuga0 at 7:09 PM on March 21, 2016

The Antarctica Marathon/Half Marathon? The 2017 event is full, but you can get on the waiting list.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:32 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Dingle half-marathon in Ireland is along a lovely stretch of coastline. Bit hilly. Ends at a pub.
posted by fshgrl at 10:26 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Haven't done it myself, but people rave about the Behobia Race in San Sebastián (Basque Country, Spain).
posted by maca at 2:08 AM on March 22, 2016

The Mont Blanc Marathon in Chamonix has also a half marathon, a 10k and the bonkers Vertical Kilometer as options. Great atmosphere & scenery, huge support from a town obsessed by running, and a you can warm up with a walk or run on some of the more scenic sections of the truly loopy Ultra Trail (link to just pics as their own site isn't great for this)
posted by tardigrade at 12:27 PM on March 22, 2016

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