10 Top Adventure Marathons Around the World

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Photo of 10 Top Adventure Marathons Around the World 1/10 by Mark-Anthony Villaflor
Angkor Wat Int' Half Marathon © Dennis Jarvis
Photo of 10 Top Adventure Marathons Around the World 2/10 by Mark-Anthony Villaflor
Polar Circle Marathon © Christopher Micel
Photo of 10 Top Adventure Marathons Around the World 3/10 by Mark-Anthony Villaflor
Athens Marathon © Kristoffer Trolle
Photo of 10 Top Adventure Marathons Around the World 4/10 by Mark-Anthony Villaflor
The Big Five Marathon © bzd1
Photo of 10 Top Adventure Marathons Around the World 5/10 by Mark-Anthony Villaflor
The Great Wall of China © Brian Snelson
Photo of 10 Top Adventure Marathons Around the World 6/10 by Mark-Anthony Villaflor
Inca Trail Marathon © Bruce Tuten
Photo of 10 Top Adventure Marathons Around the World 7/10 by Mark-Anthony Villaflor
North Korea Marathon © David Stanley
Photo of 10 Top Adventure Marathons Around the World 8/10 by Mark-Anthony Villaflor
North Pole Marathon © Anita Ritenour
Photo of 10 Top Adventure Marathons Around the World 9/10 by Mark-Anthony Villaflor
Patagonian International Marathon © malena
Photo of 10 Top Adventure Marathons Around the World 10/10 by Mark-Anthony Villaflor
Petra Desert Marathon © melenama

Each weekend, all around the world runners and wanna-be runners wake up bright an early to tackle 21 or 42 kilometers. For travelers who have ever wanted to claim the achievement of completing a marathon opportunity knocks at your door. The annual marathons listed below give adventurers the possibility of checking off two bucket list items at the same time. Many first time marathoners choose these memorable runs as a way to do so. Natural landscapes are endless for those who want the scenery- run through Patagonia in Chile’s Torres del Paine, safari through African grasslands past wild animals, or marathon on ice sheets in the Arctic Circle. For those interested in tackling the world’s most impressive made man structures, run alongside Jordan’s Petra, through Angkor Wat’s Temple City, or up the Andes’ mountain traversing the Incan Trail. If you prefer a city run, enter the most elusive country, North Korea and run through Pyongyang. For something less restrictive choose to run past Ancient Greek buildings in Athens. Regardless of your choice you can claim to have accomplished a marathon at one of the world’s most iconic and historical sites. Even if you feel like dying at the end of your 26 miles you will never regret having visited any of these places in the process!

If you’ve ever wanted to find yourself in a lunar setting there’s no better place to do so than the arid desert of Jordan. Tucked in this landscape is the famous ancient city of Petra. Running through sandstone and desert and passing by camels will make you feel like you’ve time traveled back centuries.

Photo of Petra, Ma'an Governorate, Jordan by Mark-Anthony Villaflor

Home to the first modern olympics held in 1896 runners have the ability to relive the moments of this momentous event by running through historical city of Athens, Greece. While it’s the modern day marathon distance of 26 miles rather than the original 24.85 miles Dubbed The Original Course, runners follow the footsteps of Pheidippides the messenger that relayed the news of victory in Marathon to Athens. Take a running tour through central Athens and end up at the grand Olympic Stadium!

Photo of Athens, Kentrikos Tomeas Athinon, Greece by Mark-Anthony Villaflor
Photo of Athens, Kentrikos Tomeas Athinon, Greece by Mark-Anthony Villaflor

Every June deep in the Andes mountain range adventurers are given the opportunity to run a 26 or 30 mile race through the heart of the Lost City of the Incas. Of course the hike itself is known to be quite difficult so the run is no walk in the park with the altitude ranging from 8000-14000 feet above sea level! Those who reach the finish line are rewarded with satisfaction of reaching Macchu Picchu!

Photo of Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Cusco, Peru by Mark-Anthony Villaflor

Most people find would find themselves running away from African animals rather than alongside them but during the Big Five Marathon you’re able to both. The landscape won’t disappoint as you’re taken through hills, gorges, valleys, woodlands, and the open savannah with roaming wildlife. Safari by foot in search of not just the finish line but Africa’s big five- elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhino.

Photo of South Africa by Mark-Anthony Villaflor

Located in Chile’s most beautiful region, Torres del Paine National Park hosts it’s annual race for runners wanting majestic views of the world renowned Patagonia! The 10k, 21k, 42k and 60k run takes you through striking mountains, multicolored lakes, and gigantic glaciers. Panoramic views of gigantic towers of ice and granite are seen through this breathtaking adventure.

Photo of Torres del Paine, Chile by Mark-Anthony Villaflor

Regarded the “coolest marathon in the world” the Polar Circle doesn’t disappoint for the adventure traveler! The 42 kilometer route takes you straight through the heart of an ice cap covered by sheets of ice and snow. Runners are given a choice between a 42 km or a 21 km run but for those that want to take in more of Greenland's arctic tundra they can do the Polar Bear challenge and combine the two distances!

Photo of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland by Mark-Anthony Villaflor

Located in one of the most remotest marathon locations, the North Pole Marathon takes you to sub-zero temperatures on top of 6-12 feet sheets of ice on top of the freezing Arctic Ocean. Rather than a land run, this is literally a run on ice marathon. No where else in the world can you say you’ve run 42km on ice! This Norwegian marathon also includes a helicopter flight around the polar region.

Photo of Barneombudet, Karl Johans gate, Oslo, Norway by Mark-Anthony Villaflor

Once a year inside the Hermit Kingdom, the government of North Korea opens up it’s doors, if only slightly, for foreigners to come in and run Pyongyang city. While you may get a false glimpse of what life is like north of the border it’s something to say you’ve stepped over into this mysterious nation. Of course, expect changes from the advertised route and tight regulations within the country. There’s a lot of fine print on their official website and even the dates of the event are subject to change last minute as per the demands of the Eternal General Secretary of the Party, Kim Jong-Il.

Photo of Pyongyang, North Korea by Mark-Anthony Villaflor

Cambodia’s fields are littered with landmines in it’s post civil war era but as a traveler and runner you can help raise funds for landmine victims by participating in the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon. Each December this half marathon is held in the Angkor Wat temple complex, world’s largest religious monument! For those needing more distance the Angkor Empire Marathon is a full 26.1 open for runners each August.

Photo of Angkor Wat, Krong Siem Reap, Siem Reap, Cambodia by Mark-Anthony Villaflor

What’s better than watching grown men and women struggle up 5164 steps? Joining in on the fun by signing yourself up for the half or full marathon in Tianjin China. Each Spring in 2000-3000 participants gather to run and crawl their way up and down the largest man-made built barrier in the world. Aside from the wall, runners get to go through a local village and a valley with spectacular views of the China’s iconic wall.

Photo of Great Wall of China Beijing by Mark-Anthony Villaflor
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