Even while training for an upcoming race, from the amateurs to the elites, most athletes always have one very important question on their minds: where in the world will I race next? The amount of races to choose from could make anyone's head spin. Luckily, factors like how far you care to travel, what type of atmosphere you're looking for and of course, your budget will help narrow down that list a bit. And hopefully our round-up of these travel-worthy destination races will, too.
"Being active and staying healthy while traveling can be a challenge, but Belize is making that possible with the 'End of the World' half and full marathon," says a spokesperson for the Belize Tourism Board. "The event takes runners through Placencia Village, Seine Bight Village and Maya Beach with beautiful views of the Caribbean Sea along the way. Also, participants and spectators can experience the culture of Belize for a pre-event dinner and post-event party on the beach."
Set in vacation-friendly Marathon, Florida, the 7 Mile Bridge Run is the only known race that is completely surrounded by water from start to finish. And not only can you make a great Florida vacation out of this race, but you'll be running and traveling for a good cause, too. Money raised for the 7 Mile Bridge Run is donated to local schools and other groups that promote youth involvement in athletic activities.
Each year in September triathletes flock to the Alabama Coast for a scenic yet competitive race in the Gulf of Mexico and along the area's white sand beaches and turquoise waters. And for those who'd rather skip the swimming and biking, the area also hosts a half marathon race that guides runners through the beautiful Gulf State Park nationally designated Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail.
In addition to a beautiful tropical setting, this sprint triathlon and duathlon race series offers destination racers a full-fledged Bermuda vacation experience. Race entry includes a complete weekend itinerary featuring a welcome reception, yoga on the beach, tours of the bike course and of course, a post-race ceremony complete with cocktails, music and awards.
With a course elevation gain of over 7,000 feet, this challenging but beautifully scenic marathon has been dubbed "America's Toughest Road Race." If your idea of a vacation involves running up mountains for hours at a time, then this is your ultimate destination race. Of course, you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the surrounding area. Oh, and if one really challenging marathon isn't enough for you, you can join the group of runners who opt to run the course twice in a row for the Official Unofficial Double Marathon.
Travel enthusiasts looking for a small (but growing), well-organized race will find a great vacation/race combo with this Caribbean race series that also offers a half marathon and four-person relay. "This is probably the friendliest (half) marathon I’ve ever run! If you plan to be on Grand Cayman Island in early December, you need to schedule your visit around this race,” one happy runner wrote in a review of this race. This year's course will guide participants through the capital city of George Town and along the stunning tropical waters of the Cayman's white sand beaches.
Going on it's 40th year, the Annual Crater Lake Rim Runs and Marathon takes place in Oregon's breathtaking Crater Lake National Park. Participants can choose between race options including 6.7 miles, 13.0 miles and the full marathon. There's also a 6.7-mile walk option and all courses skirt the rim of Majestic Crater Lake at altitudes ranging from 5,980 to 7,850 feet above sea level. And for cyclists who want in on the fun, the area also hosts a century bike ride.
"The Dublin Marathon is known as the friendliest marathon in the world and it truly is. It takes place on a bank holiday, so the local residents have the day off and come out in droves to cheer on the runners," says Kelly McLay, Dublin tour group leader for Marathon Tours & Travel. "Our clients love the camaraderie that builds throughout the trip as well as the wholesomeness and beauty of the countryside during our post-race excursion."
"Named one of the country’s top destination marathons, the 33rd Annual Wineglass Marathon is the perfect destination for a scenic race and getaway. Nearly 6,000 runners trail blaze through the flat, fast and scenic marathon course from Bath to Corning with its picturesque finish on Historic Market Street. The wildly popular Wineglass Half Marathon sponsored by the Seneca Lake Wine Trail is available to runners not ready to commit to the full 26.2 miles and the Wine Glass 5K is a fun and easy warmup the morning before race day."
If you're going to participate in a race that's been dubbed "the most grueling endurance test on the planet," at the very least, you might as well choose a race location that will provide you with a spectacular backdrop. For instance, the Mediterranean island of Mallorca. This 70.3 IRONMAN race presents competitors with a two-loop swim in the Bay of Alcúdia, a rigorous bike course through the scenic and hilly north-western part of the city and finally, a picturesque beachfront marathon route that loops through tourist "hot spots" along the Mediterranean sea.
"The main thing to run Rome for is the course. It's really something special," says one reviewer of the race on MarathonGuide.com. "You start at the Colosseum, run along the Tiber (over multiple bridges), and past some pretty impressive sights. The ending in particular is really impressive as you run through the piazzas and narrow roads hemmed in with people." And you can make your race experience even more memorable with a pre-race city tour, like the "Shake Out" package from Italian tour host, The Roman Guy. Warm up for race day with a guided tour of the Colosseum, followed by a run to the top of Capitoline Hill for stunning views of the Roman Forum and then a descent to the finish at the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps.
Spartan Race is taking obstacle course culture out to sea. Adventure race lovers can sign on with Spartan for a three-night, all-inclusive Norwegian Cruise vacation from Miami to a private island in the Bahamas' Great Stirrup Cay where the Spartan Sprint race will take place. The $599 trip package will include the cruise, a $50,000 prize pool for the top 100 finishers, meals on-board the ship, and among other amenities, a full day for vacation activities at Great Stirrup Cay.