Top five marathons worth travelling for

By Megan Singleton

Megan Singleton laces up and takes a look at the world's premier marathons worth making the trip for.

Running NYC's five boroughs for the New York Marathon. Photo / Megan Singleton
Running NYC's five boroughs for the New York Marathon. Photo / Megan Singleton

1. New York Marathon

The New York Marathon is open to all-comers, you just have to be drawn out of the ballot. The race runs through New York's five boroughs and the streets are lined with two million spectators cheering you on. Here is my blog on Tips for running the New York Marathon from my brother, who learned a thing or two in his quest.

2. Great Wall of China

This is more like a shuffle than a run in places because over 2500 people are squeezed onto the wall in this race that has been going since 1999 and includes 5164 steps. You can also do a half or even the 8.5km fun run.

But that's probably not going to cut it with your friends when you post your pics on Facebook!

3. Big Five Marathon

This is held in Entabeni Game reserve in South Africa's Limpopo province. There are no fences and nothing to separate you from the wildlife (which might make you run faster). If you're lucky you'll see the Big Five: elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard, and you most certainly will run by zebra, antelope and shy giraffes. This is considered a harder race than Comrades, a notorious 88 km run because it's strewn with loose stones and steep terrain. The next race is 21 June, 2014.

4. London Marathon

This race starts south of the Thames at Greenwich and ends at St James Park, right opposite Buckingham Palace. You'll run through the Monopoly board of London's icons with over 35,000 runners puffing alongside you. Word is Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah is in training to make next year's London Marathon his first marathon attempt. The next race is 13 April, 2014.

5. Athens Marathon

This is where it all began back in 490BC. The story is that the Greek village of Marathon was being attacked by the huge Persian Army - but they won. A young soldier named Phidippides ran 24 miles to Athens to bring news of the victory. Some records then say he collapsed and died. But you can take heart that you won't be in sandals and you'll also be able to grab water and sustenance en route. This same course was run in the 2004 Olympics. The next race is 10 November, 2013.

- nzherald.co.nz

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