The top 6 scenic marathons for a 2020 destination race experience
From an African safari to the Loch Ness Monster
Easily one of the most scenic road races in America, the Big Sur Marathon is held April 26 along the very vista-heavy Highway 1. The course has runners travel from Big Sur to Carmel with nothing but rocky coastlines, rolling hills, gorgeous ancient redwoods, ocean views to enjoy, in addition to the iconic Bixby Bridge, of course. Here, runners will be entertained by a pianist on a baby grand, taiko drummers at the foot of Hurricane Point and more music and entertainment throughout the course. It doesn’t get better than this. In addition to the full marathon, the event offers every distance 3K and up. It is USATF certified and a Boston qualifier.
What better way to get immersed in the City of Light than participating in the beloved Paris Marathon. Runners will trot along the banks of the Seine River, taking in all the cherished sites including the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and more but also visiting areas tourists would never end up. Tens of thousands of runners begin the race at the Champs-Élysées and finish up at the historic marvel the Arc de Triomphe. And, once completed, there are few cities on the planet with better culinary options for rewarding all that hard work. The 44th running of the Paris Marathon is scheduled for April 4.
Big Five Marathon
This marathon takes place June 20 on the African Savvanah in Limpopo, South Africa and refers to the big five animals runners might see as they make their way through private game reserves such as the Entabeni Conservancy: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. Don’t worry, the Big Five Marathon route is closely watched by rangers and helicopters so there isn’t any risk, but maybe the idea of a leopard chasing down runners can help inspire a quicker pace. The start time is actually dictated by the location of said predators to maximize viewing and safety. Runners will see plenty of zebra, giraffes, and antelope as they make their way through this stunning landscape in the Waterberg district of South Africa.
With views of white sandy beaches, palm trees and breaching humpback whales on one side of the racecourse and lush tropical rainforest, sugar cane fields and a towering volcano on the other, the Maui Marathon is an incredible destination for a marathon. The race begins at the Sugar Mill on the Old Mokulele Hwy in Kahului, Maui and runs over the Pali and up the beautiful coast, thru Lahaina and finishes in the Kaanapali Beach Resort. The race is a USATF Sanctioned and Certified Boston Marathon Qualifier.
With the chance of seeing the legendary monster and spectacular scenery in the Scottish Highlands, the Loch Ness Marathon is one of the most unique and memorable races anywhere. The race, although on the bucket list of many runners, manages to hang on to its grassroots feel with a fantastic atmosphere and most participants from around the world looking for a great race experience. The race is point-to-point along the famous Loch Ness through the moors and with the Highlands providing the backdrop. The race finishes in Inverness with beer and scotch aplenty to celebrate the day in style.
Although the Reggae Marathon happens later in the year on Dec. 6, now is the best time to set your sights on this Jamaican gem. For nearly two decades, the fleet of foot from around the world descend on enchanting Negril, Jamaica for one of the most pleasurable running events on the planet. There are a marathon, half marathon and 10K option. The races get underway at Long Bay Beach Park on Negril’s gorgeous seven-mile white sand beach.