After the most grueling 26.2 miles of our lives, we’re proud to say that we officially conquered Costa Rica’s Moon Run. This trail race takes runners through ankle-deep mud, fog-covered cloud forests, swift rivers and hanging bridges. It’s insanely difficult, but also one of the most unique and beautiful ways to experience Costa Rica.
Not having any idea what we were getting ourselves into, we didn’t exactly cross the finish line first. But, we weren’t the last ones, either. And the opportunity the race provided to explore a part of Costa Rica we never would have seen otherwise (the race operators actually open trails that are otherwise closed to the public) now has us dreaming up other one-of-a-kind races around the world.
Whether you’re an experienced marathoner or just looking for a memorable travel experience, here are a few of our top bucket list worthy races to get your blood pumping:
1. Patagonian International Marathon
What better way to experience the beauty of Patagonia than by running through the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile? Jog past jagged snow-capped mountains, crystal-clear water and grassy fields. Just be sure to train on hills, as this race boasts quite the elevation gain. The Patagonian International Marathon includes distances of 42k, 21k and 10k.
2. The Jungle Marathon
If lazing the day away on Brazil’s beautiful beaches doesn’t entice you, then perhaps running an ultra-marathon through the Amazon rainforest will. This intense race takes adrenaline-seekers through swamps, rivers, jungle trails and remote villages. The most extreme six-part race covers 254 kilometers. The race organizers warn of real dangers from “snakes, wild animals and poisonous plants,” making this one ultra-marathon that’s not for the faint of heart.
3. Two Oceans Marathon
If a race claims to be the most beautiful marathon in the world, then it’s probably worth checking out. This 56km race around Cape Town takes runners past the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. You’ll also enjoy the scenic views on Chapman’s Peak, Hout Bay and Constantia Nek. If the ultra sounds too grueling, there are shorter distances as well.
4. The Italy Coast to Coast
It’s all too easy to gain a few extra pounds while indulging in Italy’s divine cuisine. What better way to actually earn all those carbs than by running an ultra-marathon in between meals? The Coast to Coast is a team relay from the Adriatic to the Tyrrhenian Sea. All you have to do is convince a few of your friends to join your running and feasting event.
5. Safaricom Marathon
Going on safari is in and of itself a bucket list item, so it’s no wonder that combining a safari with a race—all while raising money for a good cause—equals the experience of a lifetime. This marathon in Kenya goes through the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, where it’s very possible you could encounter wildlife throughout your race. According to event organizers, “the marathon has raised over US$5 million for conservation and community development across Kenya.”
These races will take you to some of the most stunning locales around the world. And while most attract avid runners, many of them are open to all experience levels looking for the trip of a lifetime.
Would you ever travel for a running event?