Go the distance with our 5 favourite marathon destinations

28 April 2019

This past weekend marked the 39th annual London Marathon (28 April). It’s the race that should tip charity funds raised by London Marathon runners over the R19 Billion (£1 billion) mark - a phenomenal achievement and a figure that no other mass participation event comes anywhere near.

A total of (R18,145 million) £955 million has been raised since the first London Marathon in 1981 and the event has set a new fundraising world record for the last 12 years running (pun totally intended).

Of course, London isn’t the only marathon worth your attention so we thought now would be a decent time to highlight some of the other great 26.22-mile long running events from around the world.


Why is it important?
Running a marathon in a city as scorching as Dubai would be unappealing even to the most hardened runner, but holding the Middle East’s biggest mass participation sporting event in January means the cooler winter temperatures so the race isn’t too torturous.

Staged in the heart of Jumeirah, 2019’s event saw Ethiopia’s Getaneh Molla clock a time that sits among the fastest in the history of marathon running (2:03:34 - the first sub-2:04 time in Dubai and earning Molla the title of the sixth fastest marathon runner ever).

Unsurprisingly for one of the planet’s richest cities, winners of the Dubai Marathon are rewarded handsomely - $200,000 - the most of any road race in the world and almost four times what first place in the London and Berlin Marathons would fetch. Additionally, any runners who set a new fastest time in Dubai stand to inflate their prize fund to $300,000.

Course highlight:
Much of this incredibly flat and straight course trails along Jumeirah Beach Road. As such, runners will encounter some stunning hotels, namely the Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Al Qasr, One & Only Royal Mirage. They’ll also pound the streets past The Palm Jumeirah – home to Atlantis, The Palm and the newly opened W Dubai – The Palm.

When does it usually happen?
Late January

Where to stay?
Atlantis The Palm, Grosvenor House, W Dubai - The Palm

Three things you can see and do in Dubai:


New York City

Why is it important?
NYC’s marathon is one of the six big races that make up the Abbott World Marathon Majors – a collective completed by Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin and Chicago. It is now considered to be the largest marathon anywhere in the world, attracting nearly two million spectators while close to 100,000 people applied for 2017’s race.

Course highlight:
New York City’s marathon winds through all five boroughs so the route isn’t short of notable landmarks. The course starts out on Staten Island and immediately crosses the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, which is normally closed to pedestrians, so the sight of hundreds of runners packed onto the bridge is a unique spectacle.

Everyone who completes the race will forever remember what it feels like to feel the roar of the crowds as they stomp through the heart of the Big Apple.

Three things you can see and do in New York City:

When does it usually happen?
First Sunday in November

Where to stay?
Mandarin Oriental New York, The Ritz-Carlton New York, Waldorf Astoria


Why is it important?
Athens is essentially the birthplace of the marathon. In 490 BC, Greek soldier and messenger Pheidippides ran 26.2 miles from the fields of Marathon to the people of Athens to report a military victory against the Persians.

Course highlight:
The route takes runners through Greek countryside and small sleepy towns, but one key feature of the Athens Marathon is that it mimics Pheidippides’ route, beginning in the town of Marathon with running crossing the finishing line in the historic Panathenaic Stadium.

With around half of the course being uphill, Athens is arguably the most difficult of all the major marathons. However, runners will appreciate the gentle sea breeze as they make their way through Nea Makri in the first half of the course.

When does it usually happen?
Early November

Where to stay:
Royal Olympic Hotel, St George Lycabettus Hotel, Electra Palace Athens

Three things you can see and do in Athens:


Hong Kong


Why is it important?
It’s one of the most crowded marathons to date. Hong Kong held the record for having the most participants in a single marathon with 73,070 people crossing the starting line in January 2015. Hong Kong is a potential big earner too - with total prize money of  (R4,470 M) £230k, it is one of Asia’s most prominent marathons.

Course highlight:
Some of the best vantage points for spectators can be found in the Central Harbourfront area. Here, they’ll be able to cheer the runners over the finish line with the stunning backdrops of the city skyline, harbour and observation wheel.

When does it usually happen?

Where to stay?
Hotel VIC on the Harbour, Intercontinental Hong Kong, Kowloon Shangri-La

Three things you can see and do in Hong Kong:


Why is it important?
It is officially the world’s oldest continuously running marathon with the first Boston Marathon being held in April 1897, just one year after the first modern Olympics. Forget about its age though, Boston is also regarded as one of the world’s most challenging races and the marathon that all other marathons are measured by.

With more than half a million spectators lining the race route every year, the Boston Marathon is New England's most widely viewed sporting event, injecting more than an estimated $200 million into the Greater Boston economy.

Course highlight:
One of the race’s stand-out features is the Scream Tunnel. Just before the race’s halfway mark, students from the Wellesley College line the course for about a quarter of a mile, screaming and offering kisses. The Scream Tunnel is said to be so loud that runners can hear it from a mile away.

When does it usually happen? 
Third Monday in April (Patriot's Day) 

Where to stay? 
Fairmont Copley Plaza, Taj Boston, The Langham

Three things you can see and do in Boston:

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