5 of the top destination races right now

Plus, the COVID-19 travel requirements for each country

With COVID-19-related pandemic travel restrictions easing throughout North America and beyond, and with a pent-up urge to travel, many are looking for a safe and easy destination race to put all that lockdown running and marathon prep to good use. 

To that end, here are five of the top choices for North Americans to check out with the travel restrictions for the host countries. 

The French Riviera Marathon, Nov. 28

As one of the biggest marathons on the planet, the French Riviera Marathon Nice-Cannes hosts some 13,000 runners from 60 countries. The course is a stunning seaside route with 95 percent of the race along the coast and the temperatures are ideal in autumn. 

France requires travelers to be fully vaccinated by a vaccine authorized for use by the European Medicines Agency (EMA): Pfizer (Comirnaty), Moderna, AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria), Johnson & Johnson (Janssen), and AstraZeneca (Covishield). Currently, France is accepting mixed doses of the following combination: AstraZeneca/Pfizer Cominarty and AstraZeneca/Moderna.

While you’re there: Explore Place Masséna and Galeries Lafayette, as well as the Vieux-Nice (flower market), but don’t forget the beautiful beaches of the Cote d’Azur. 

Where to stay: Check out Nice's long-standing Best Western Plus Hotel Masséna, a four-star hotel close to the start line. 

Honolulu Marathon, Dec. 12

Head over to Hawaii to add a little aloha spirit to a marathon. This race is ideal for new marathoners as there is no cut-off time, and a gorgeous and very flat coastal course, to allow runners to bask in the beauty of the island and check out all the significant sites along the way. The tens of thousands of participants also attend a lead-up luau before the big day. 

To travel to the United States for the marathon, Canadian runners will need to be fully vaccinated but mixed dose vaccinations are allowed including the mixing of AstraZeneca with Pfizer and Moderna. Although a COVID-19 test will not be required to enter the United States for land crossings, it is required by air currently. Travelers will also be required to get a test before crossing back into Canada.

While you’re there: Head up to the legendary North Shore of the island and try surfing the most famous breaks in the world at Waimea Bay, Pipeline, and Sunset Beach. 

Where to stay: Check out the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort close to the start and the finish of the race, and Duke’s for post-race drinks. 


Key West Half Marathon and 5K

For those not ready for a full marathon, but definitely in need of a run-cation, the Key West Half-Marathon and 5K is ideal. 

Located at the southern end of the Floriday Keys in iconic and historic Key West, this event offers a scenic course throughout the sun-baked area including such sites as the Hemingway house, historic Old Town, and the stunning waterfront. 

Key West is about as warm and sunny a place as one could find in the United States, and as such is a perfect winter destination race. 

Fast, flat and scenic, the half marathon course takes participants mostly around the edge of Key West, and includes a bridge crossing over Key West’s Cow Key Channel to Stock Island and back.

Once complete, bask in this fun and festive town, go fishing, or just enjoy the sun. 

Rome Marathon, March 27

Run one of the most enchanting marathons in the world at the Rome Marathon in the Italian capital. The course begins beside the stunning Coliseum and weaves through the eternal city passing incredible landmarks such as the Piazza di Spagna, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Saint Peter's, and Piazza Venezia. The cobblestone streets represent a unique challenge for runners, so keep that in mind. 

Non-EU citizens must present a COVID-19 Green Certificate, in paper or digital form, issued by the health authorities of their home country, certifying negativity to the virus, successful recovery, or vaccination recognized by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Namely, Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson&Johnson. A negative COVID-19 test is required to fly to Italy. Currently, there is a vaccine mandate to access certain services. 

While you’re there: So many options, such as the Pantheon, gelato at Il Gelato di San Crispino, or check out the oldest market in Rome at Campo de Fiori.

Where to stay: Check out Hotel White, a lovely four-star hotel near the Trevi Fountain, and all the important sites. 


Big Sur Marathon, April 22-24

The popular West Coast race along the California coastline in and around Big Sur is back with a full field for 2022. Capacities range from about 550 for the 5K to close to 5,000 for the 26.2-mile marathon. Big Sur is one of the most dramatic and gorgeous stretches of the West Coast with plenty of scenic vistas and, well, hills. Let’s be honest. 

See the Honolulu Marathon for American travel requirements. 

While there: Take a few extra days to bask in the California sunshine, wander through a grove of Redwoods, head down the coast to Monterey, surf near Santa Cruz, or head north and fly home out of San Francisco, but not before taking in that incredible city’s sites. 

Where to stay: If there is room, be sure to check out the iconic Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn. 



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