10 Running events worth travelling for
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The best running races in the world

Where to head for your next race, whether it's your first time or you're a seasoned ultra fiend
By Heather Irvine
5 min readUpdated on
What do you look for in a holiday? Great beaches? Nice food? Amazing running events? If the last of these is you, then you're in the right place. And if you've never tried running abroad, then why not give it a go? It's a great way to see a new part of the world and you'll discover more than on your standard city break.
We’ve rounded up 10 of the best running races across the globe that we reckon are well worth the cost of the airfare.

1. Siberian Ice Half Marathon

Where? Omsk, Siberia
When: January 7 2021
Get your running season off to the coldest start possible and take on the breathtaking (literally) Siberian Ice Half. The Omsk-based race usually has temperatures as low as -32 degrees Celsius, with there 3.5km and 7km distances on offer if spending around two hours in freezing conditions doesn't sound like your cup of tea.

2. Empire State Building Run Up

Where? New York, USA
When: TBC
One of the Big Apple's most iconic landmarks is also home to the world's oldest building run up. Competitors tackle the skyscraper's 1,576 stairs in a dash to the top, climbing the 1,050ft in elevation as quickly as they can. The views across Manhattan from the Empire State Building's observatory deck are the reward once at the top. Let's hope that the elevators are in operation for the way down...

3. Connemarathon

Where? Connemara, Galway, Ireland
When: April 18 2021
If looking for your first race abroad, there aren't many better places to head to than the Connemara in the loughs of western Ireland. There are half, full and ultra-marathons on offer, and all weave their way past bogs, lakes and the Twelve Pin Mountains. Participants should be ready for some hills too, with some tough climbs to tackle on all three courses.

4. Two Oceans Marathon

Where? Cape Town, South Africa
When: April 3 2021
The 2019 race marks the 50th edition of the Cape Town ultra, a race that sees competitors run along the coasts of the Atlantic and Indian oceans (hence the name). Runners wind their way out of Cape Town and head up and over Chapman's Peak for some absolutely breathtaking views, with race organiser's rightly stating it's the 'world's most beautiful marathon'. There's also a half marathon on offer for those not up to the ultra, although it doesn't take in the iconic two oceans.

5. Great Wall Marathon

Where? Beijing, China
When: September 25 2021
The Great Wall Marathon will be marking its 20th year in 2019, and has cemented itself as one of the toughest marathons in the world thanks to the 5,164 steps you have to do in addition to the 26.2 miles. If that sounds like too much lactic acid for you, there is a half marathon of 8.5km 'fun' run you can opt for instead.

6. Midnight Sun Marathon

Where? Tromsø, Norway
When: June 19 2021
If you've ever taken part in an endurance event, you'll be familiar with getting up at the crack of dawn to get to the start line in time. Not so at the Tromsø marathon, which doesn't actually kick off until 8:30pm. You won't be running in the dark though wit the sun not setting during the most northerly race in the world. There should be something for everyone too, with a half, 10km, 4.2km or 800m routes on offer.

7. Big Five Marathon

Where? Limpopo province, South Africa
When: June 26 2021
Elephants, rhinos, buffalos, lions and leopards aren't your regular spectators at running races, which is what makes the Big Five Marathon a truly unique experience. If the wild animals don't scare you, then the Yellow Wood Valley section of the course should, with organisers calling one particular descent "the steepest slope of your life". You've been warned...
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8. Tenerife Bluetrail

Where? Los Cristianos, Tenerife
When: June 3-5 2021
Not many races let you cross an entire island, but the Tenerife Bluetrail isn't your normal race. The 101.5km ultra trail takes competitors from the Adeje in the south and up and over the 3,500m Rambleta before finishing in Puerto de la Cruz in the north. If the ultra and its 12,819m of elevation sounds too much for you, then fear not – there are a range of trails on offer, down to an 8km jaunt.

9. Le Marathon du Médoc

Where? Bordeaux, France
When: September 11 2021
If you're aiming to beat your personal best, then Le Marathon du Médoc probably isn't the one for you. Energy drinks are out and vino is in, with competitors able (and encouraged) to stop to sample some wine at vineyards along the route. You may end up with your slowest ever time (that's if you even make it to the finish, of course), but with fancy dress strongly encouraged, it's sure to be the most fun you've ever had while running 26.2 miles.

10. The Great Ethiopian Run

Where? Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
When: January 10 2021
Not many races come close to the atmosphere of the Great Ethiopian Run. The country is mad for running, having won all 54 of its Olympic medals in long distance events, and the public come out in force to show their passion for the sport. Although it's only 10km in length, the race is still relatively tough, with altitude and hills to tackle throughout, but the support along the route should help get you across the line.