The best running races in the world all share a few key elements: an exceptional course, extremely enthusiastic spectators, outstanding organization and, perhaps the most important factor of all for many runners, a great challenge to conquer.
That challenge might present itself in the form of a traditional marathon, a multi-day road race event, a trek though one of the Earth’s most unforgiving terrains or a grueling course lined with an unthinkable amount of obstacles.
Those are just a few of the defining characteristics of some of the most remarkable road races in the world.
Whether you’ve run more marathons than you can count on two hands and are looking for your next exciting race endeavor, or you're new to the sport and are on the hunt for some race inspiration, here’s a look at some truly one-of-a-kind courses that definitely deserve a spot on your must-run bucket list.
Great Wall Marathon and Half — China
Photo Credit: Albatros Adventure
If you’re totally
insane determined, then go ahead and add running 26.2 miles up, down and all around The Great Wall of China to your bucket list. Or, you could opt for the half distance or 8.5K fun run — each slightly less challenging but still incredibly rigorous. Whichever you choose, there’s no doubt in our minds that that this remarkable race deserves a place on every athlete’s running bucket list. In 2014, the event sold out to 2,500 runners from more than 60 countries, so be prompt to register if you’re adamant about checking this doozy of a race off your list.
Likely you’ve heard of the Spartan Race before. Perhaps you’ve even participated in one (after all, the event continues to see more and more participants every year). But if you truly want to put your status as a warrior, runner and all-around athlete to the test, then you need to conquer the Spartan Beast. It’s the most difficult of the three different races offered by Spartan (sprint, super and beast) and its course is designed to test not only your physical endurance and grit, but the inner workings of your mind, too. Within a 13-mile course, you’ll face more than 30 signature obstacles, and, if you’ve previously completed a Spartan sprint and super course, you’ll earn your official badge as a Spartan TRIFECTA athlete.