The Long Run: 9 Great Marathons in India and Abroad

Race past rivers, beaches and snowy peaks. | By Azeem Banatwalla & Mihika Pai

Please login to bookmark

Given the rough terrain and high altitude, the Everest Marathon in Nepal is only for the fittest runners. Photo: AFP/Staff/Getty Images

India

Kaveri Trail Marathon, Karnataka

Karnataka’s Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary (18 km north of Mysore) is the setting for the annual Kaveri Trail Marathon, which attracts amateur runners from across India’s southern states. The forest echoes with birdsong as participants pant their way along the winding trails following the Kaveri River. There’s a U-turn at the halfway mark that allows the fitter ones to encourage the slowpokes on the way back (www.kaveritrailmarathon.com; 16-17 September 2017).

Auroville Marathon, Puducherry

The Auroville Marathon was started in 2008 to celebrate 40 years of the founding of Auroville, a township 8 km north of Puducherry (Pondicherry). The marathon winds through forest trails and concrete, with peacocks occasionally appearing to see what the fuss is about. The Auroville Marathon is a feel-good race, with participation valued above all else: runners that finish are awarded medals and certificates (facebook.com/aurovillemarathon; 12 February 2017). 

Goa River Marathon, Vasco Da Gama, Goa

Heading to Goa in December? Take a day off from beach-bumming and work up a sweat at the annual Goa River Marathon at the port city of Vasco Da Gama. Locals, tourists, Bollywood celebrities, and seasoned athletes take part in the 21 km run that guides participants along the Zuari River with the beautiful island of St. Jacinto visible in the distance (www.goarivermarathon.com; next race on 10 December 2017).

Himalayan Running And Living Marathon, Sangla, Himachal Pradesh

High-altitude marathons aren’t just about the stamina. Fitness and acclimatisation to the thin air are all-important. Visitors who just turn up in Sangla and hope to waltz through 42 km are in for a bit of a surprise. The Himalayan Running and Living Marathon takes participants to altitudes of over 10,000 ft. Amid the misty hills of the Kinner Kailash range. Runners are advised to spend a few days trekking the area to acclimatise and prepare for the event. (www.runningandliving.com; next race on 5 May 2017; registration fee ₹1,500-4,800)

International

Morocco Sahara Desert Marathon des Sables

A runner crosses the finish line to win the Marathon des Sables held in the Sahara Desert in Morocco. This marathon is a true test of endurance as it covers 243 km over six days. Photo: Pierre Verdy/AFP/Getty Images

Midnight Sun Marathon, Tromso, Norway 

In Norway, the sun is up 24 hours from mid-May to mid-July, and this unusual race has runners pounding feet through the city of Tromso under the midnight sun. Picturesque Scandinavian vistas, north of the Arctic Circle, provide the perfect distraction from aching muscles (www.msm.no; next race on 17 June 2017; besides the full and half marathons, there are 10km and 4.2km runs as well as a mini-race for children).   

Everest Marathon, Nepal

The rough-hewn beauty of the Nepal Himalayas is the setting for two marathons—both regarded the highest in the world. Given their rough terrain and high altitude, the Everest Marathon and the Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon are only for the fittest runners. The Everest Marathon starts at Gorakshep (17,000 ft) and ends at 11,286 ft, near Namche Bazaar; while the Tenzing-Hillary Marathon starts at Everest Base Camp (17,598 ft) and ends at Namche Bazaar (11,286 ft). Both include an acclimatisation period before the race and while they are mostly downhill, there are a couple of steep uphill sections as well. Runners pass Sherpa villages, monasteries, and stunning views (www.everestmarathon.org.uk; Everest Marathon will be held in November 2017 and is a full, 42 km run; www.everestmarathon.comthe Tenzing-Hillary Marathon will take place on 29 May 2017 and has both full and half marathons). 

Great Wall Marathon, Beijing, China

While the Great Wall is a favourite for tourists, running a marathon on this 2,000-year-old structure is not for everyone. The marathon starts in Tianjin and is a beautiful (albeit gruelling) experience and participants can expect to take twice their normal running time. The race traverses 5,164 steps, with steep ascents and descents, meandering through villages, all the while providing panoramic views of rural China (www.great-wall-marathon.com; the next race is on 20 May 2017; options include full and half and a 8.5-km fun race).  

The Big Five Marathon, South Africa

The Big Five Marathon is a race and safari rolled into one. The course makes its way through the colourful landscape of the Entabeni Game Reserve in South Africa. As they run, participants get a chance to observe the “big five”—elephants, rhinos, buffalos, leopards and lions—in their natural habitats (www.big-five-marathon.com; next race on 24 June, 2017; options include full and half marathon).  

Big Sur International Marathon, California

This moderately difficult course hugs the famous Pacific Coast along Highway 1, which winds its way through redwood forests and past ranches (www.bsim.org; the next race will be held on 30 April 2017 and has full and half marathons as well as shorter fun runs).

Appeared as part of the September 2012 issue as “The Long Run.” Updated in November 2016.

Also see: Why Long-Distance Running can be Like Real-Life Facebook

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

COMMENTS

Please Login to comment
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE