‘From fast and frantic city races, marathons today have moved to scenic off-road rambles. These are the few you don’t want to miss this year’
The Great Wall Marathon
It all began in 1998, when the owner and founder of Albatros Travel, Søren Rasmussen, came up with the idea of arranging a marathon on the Great Wall of China. The first race followed a year after with 292 runners. The challenge is worth it as you will experience breath taking panoramic views of the Great Wall. Since the inaugural event, the field has grown steadily to a sell-out event with 2,500 runners representing over 60 nations.
When: April 12, 2020
The Big Five Marathon
The Big Five Marathon is known for its demanding course, which takes runners through incredible scenery, showcasing South Africa’s natural beauty and wildlife. Runners weave through the African savannah, encountering zebras, elephants, giraffes and antelopes. The terrain is varied with sand, loose rocks, pebbles and holes. Significant changes in elevation with a few steep ascents and descents should be expected.
When: June 20 onwards
Iceland Volcano Marathon
Premiering in 2020, this is the first race in one of Earth’s geological hotspots! Set near Lake Mývatn at the divergent boundaries of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, the route will run directly on the North Volcanic Zone. It’s a hot bed of geothermal activity with geysers, hot springs, lava fields and glaciers – what’s more, the volcanic zone is still very much active. With the massive Hverfjall crater at the centre of the route, runners will pass through soft, black volcano sand, run next to geysers in the Martian-red geothermal area of Namarskard.
When: July 25, 2020
Petra Desert Marathon
Starting in the city of Petra, the Petra Desert Marathon leads runners past the tombs, mountainside carvings and caves before venturing into the arid, lunar-like landscapes of the Jordanian desert. From the splendid ruins of Petra and the vast and awe-inspiring Wadi Rum desert, to a floating swim in the Dead Sea – Jordan has something for everyone to enjoy, not to mention the warm hospitality of the Jordanian people.
When: September 5, 2020
The Polar Circle Marathon
Often referred to as “the Coolest Marathon on Earth”, the race takes place in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. The endless ice and arctic tundra of this vast country make up the backdrop of this unusual race in which runners pass glacier tongues, moraine landscapes and the soundless, Arctic desert. A part of the route takes place on the ice cap itself, but the main part of the course is run on the gravel road that connects the ice sheet with the small township of Kangerlussuaq, just north of the Polar Circle.
When: 24-25 October, 2020
Bagan Temple Marathon
Tucked away in central Myanmar and home to more than 2,000 temples, Bagan’s beauty and historical significance is unsurpassed. Sacred pagodas and beautiful temples are scattered across the plains of Bagan creating a mystical, striking landscape. The marathon course will take runners on a voyage of discovery into this alluring and untouched land. The hot and dusty course is a challenge for most runners participating in the Bagan Temple Marathon.
When: November 28, 2020
Words : Sam Picking