If you’re looking to take your race bucket list to an entirely new level, and ahem, continent, then this is the list for you. From China to South Africa, there are some truly gorgeous, iconic and beautiful marathons and running trails that will not only inspire you, but challenge you. Here are six that we absolutely want to see in person one day:
Ice Marathon, Antarctica
For those who are always wanting to push things to the extreme, the Antarctic Ice Marathon is just the ticket. You can safely bet that none of your fellow running friends have been there, and the icy and snowy views of the least populated continent will make your jaw drop. Expect to tote along several bags worth of running gear, ski goggles and face masks to protect yourself from the elements. Also, with insane winds, a half-mile altitude and -20°C temperatures, you unfortunately can’t expect to have much of a cheering squad if you run a half marathon, marathon or ultramarathon in the Antarctic interior.
La Mina Trail, Puerto Rico
Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you have to be a beach bum. Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest provides insane waterfall views throughout its canopied rainforest. On the steep but short—about a mile-long—Mina Trail, keep an eye out for some of the island’s omnipresent coqui or other wildlife you may encounter on your way. Oh, and make sure you’re looking down to avoid tripping over any exposed tree roots!
Grand Canyon, Arizona
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It’s little wonder why this locale is a must visit in the U.S. With its multicolored rock formations, the mile-deep canyon is an excellent backdrop for an extreme running challenge. Feeling extra energetic? Try the almost 50-mile “rim to rim” challenge (run from one end of the canyon to the other and back again), or pick a shorter piece for a day hike.
Bagan Temple Marathon, Myanmar
Runners often talk about the activity bringing them a sense of peace, but this race takes it to another level. Bagan is home to more than 2,000 temples, whose intricate designs dotting the area’s lush green landscape are beyond postcard worthy. Through the relativity flat course, runner will wind through a combination of countryside and villages. You may even encounter some goats along the way!
Table Mountain Crossing, South Africa
I am super excited to announce my new FKT project on Table Mountain with @redbullza . I set the FKT across Table Mountain this morning in just over 2hours & 2min. Go to www.redbull.co.za/FKT to check out the details & set your time. There are some awesome prizes like a trip to crew me at Raid of Reunion. #TableMountainFKT #TableMountainCrossing #Adventure #TrailRunning #CapeTown Photo: @craigkolesky | Red Bull Content Pool
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The mountain is a must for any visiting South Africa. Scrambling on uneven and often rocky terrain for is well worth it for ocean views that will have you feeling like you’re on top of the world. Choose from a number of trails for a length and difficulty that suits you. Regardless of which one you choose, you’ll be in awe when you reach the top.
Great Wall Marathon, China
Shout out to NYR staff @irongirlnadia & her parents running the Great Wall Marathon & Half! With 4950′ of hills, 5164 stairs, Nadia ran her 127th marathon in 5:07 placing 25th FOA in a field of 70 countries from around the world. Her 58yo dad ran his 66th marathon in 5:33. Way to go Ruiz family! . . Wear your NYR gear at your next race & tag us for a shout out! #newyearsrace #greatwallmarathon #greatwallmarathon2016
With numerous ascents and descents, this race is not for the faint of heart. It will probably take you longer than you think. But those who do decide to make the commitment will be rewarded with views of lush greenery surrounding the historic monument and a festive atmosphere at the finish line.