10 Destination Races Worth the Trip

Any runner will tell you that there are few greater moments than when you cross that finish line during a race. It’s not just about having completed the race, but marks the achievement of all of the training that you’ve done to get there. If you feel like you may have plateaued a little in your training, or want some extra incentive, here are a few destination races that will make you want to get those feet moving.

10. Big Sur International Marathon -Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

This April race has the tagline of “running on the ragged edge of the western world”, which is a pretty apt description of the vistas that runners will take in during their race. Runners understand uniquely the effort/reward relationship in training, and they’ll take full advantage of some spectacular ocean views after tackling the challenging hill that spans almost two miles about a third into the race up to Hurricane Point. This race winds its way along the Pacific Highway, and is closed for the most part to vehicular traffic, providing for a serene, scenic run experience.

Photo by: Big Sur International Marathon
Photo by: Big Sur International Marathon

9. Not Since Moses -Five Island, Nova Scotia

Wanting to change your run routine up a bit? How about going for a run on the ocean floor? That’s exactly the terrain that runners get to cover in this August race at Sand Point, Five Island, Nova Scotia. Runners can choose between 5km and 10km distances, and will get to run across the Bay of Fundy at low tide. While the tide is out, runners run alongside scenic, ragged cliffs.

Photo by: Runner's World
Photo by: Runner’s World

8. Swiss Alpine Marathon -Chur, Switzerland

This 30-year old race began as “a race for the insane”, most likely named so for the number of height inclines and uphill portions in the races, as well as the extra challenges that are present when running at higher altitudes. It has evolved over the years to appeal to a wide variety of runners abilities and also promotes itself as a family friendly event by offering several different distances from a grueling 78km ultra marathon to a 500m kids fun run. It takes place in and around Davos in the Swiss Alps in July.

Photo by: Swissalpine Marathon
Photo by: Swissalpine Marathon

7. Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend -Orlando, Florida

Who couldn’t use a little magic to carry them through the tough times in their next big race? How about magic from the Magic Kingdom and surrounding parks? The Walt Disney World Marathon weekend offers several different distances over a single weekend, including a full marathon that winds its way through four of the Disney parks, and the Goofy Challenge (which is truly goofy) that involves running a half marathon on the Saturday, followed by the full marathon the following morning. This race weekend occurs in January every year.

GSPhotography / Shutterstock.com
GSPhotography / Shutterstock.com

6. National Capital Marathon Race Weekend -Ottawa, Ontario

The Ottawa Race weekend is Canada’s largest race weekend and several of the races consistently sell out every year. This particular race weekend usually takes place during the second last weekend in May before the summer heat really sets in. Distances include the full marathon, half marathon, 5km and 10km as well as a Kids Marathon. Runners are treated to some great views along the Rideau Canal, Parliament Hill and other famous landmarks as they wind their way through downtown Ottawa and over the bridges to Gatineau, QC. Almost the whole route is accessible for spectators, so runners can expect lots of fan enthusiasm, beginning to end.

Photo by: Ross Dunn via Flickr
Photo by: Ross Dunn via Flickr

5. Reggae Marathon -Negril, Jamaica

Sun, surf, Reggae music and cold beer when you’re done running? Sounds like a runner’s delight (although the beer may not usually be part of post-run recovery, but when in Rome…). Set for the first weekend in December every year, the Reggae Marathon goes in Negril with a full marathon, half marathon and 10km distances. This event is promoted as having “good vibes and irie spirit”. Once you’re done, there is a party on the beach with Red Stripe Beer and lots of live music.

Photo by: Jamaica Experience
Photo by: Jamaica Experience

4. Great Wall Marathon -Tianjin, China

The Great Wall of China may already be on your bucket list, but what about combining that visit with a once-in-a-lifetime run at the same time. Promoted as “5,164 steps into history”, this race offers full and half marathons, as well as an 8.5 km race. This course is challenging, with lots of steps and inclines, but the views are reportedly worth the work. Runners will wind their way through towns and villages as well. This race takes place on the third Saturday in May every year.

Photo by: Great Wall Marathon
Photo by: Great Wall Marathon

3. The Polar Circle Marathon and Half Marathon -Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

If running in one of the most remote, yet scenic spots on the planet appeals to you, then this is your race. Otherwise known as “the coolest marathon on earth” (for obvious reasons) these races take place in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland in October. Runners will run through glaciers tongues, along ice caps and along some more forgiving gravel-based terrain. This route takes them just north of the Polar Circle.

Photo by: Polar Circle Marathon
Photo by: Polar Circle Marathon

2. Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon -Kauai, Hawaii

After running through the Polar Circle, runners may want a more temperate climate, namely the islands of Hawaii. Held annually in September, these races let runners wind their way through tropical rain forests and stunning views atop oceanside cliffs, the kind that lessen the burn in your thighs as you climb those hills.

Photo by: The Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon
Photo by: The Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon

1. Bay Shore Marathon -Traverse City, Michigan

This May race offers a full marathon, half marathon and 10km distance run. As far as scenery goes, this run is tops. Runners will be treated to lovely views of Lake Michigan on one side and Traverse City’s orchards and cherry trees on the other. This course is known for being fast and flat which is popular for runners seeking those elusive personal bests.

Photo by: Bayshore Marathon
Photo by: Bayshore Marathon

11 Cities to Visit on Your Trip to Switzerland

From incredible skiing and hiking to exciting nightlife, shopping and world-class chocolate, Switzerland has so many reasons to fall in love with its culture, people and natural beauty. If you’re thinking of visiting Switzerland soon, here are some of the cities you don’t want to miss during your stay.

1. Basel

On the north-western edge of Switzerland, Basel is a cosmopolitan destination for art lovers and history buffs alike. Basel is bisected by the Rhine River, lending a truly old-world feel to the medieval architecture downtown. There are several famous art museums in Basel, and the city’s annual carnival, Fasnacht, is the largest in all of Switzerland.

Basel Switzerland

2. Bellinzona

Famed for its majestic castles, Bellinzona is the best place to get a glimpse of the lavish lifestyles of wealthy 13th century Swiss. There are three main castles open to tourists, each housing a small museum in addition to living areas and gardens. At historic Castelgrande, there is even an elegant restaurant serving tastings of the region’s best wine. Once your tour of castles is over, relax with a cold drink, music and barbeque at the popular river bar Lido di Arbedo.

Bellinzona Switzerland

3. Chur

Chur is a quaint, sleepy town with breathtaking views and charming stone alleys twisting through the area’s many churches, shops and homes. The oldest town in Switzerland, its central Old Town area is kept vehicle-free to retain a simple, historic ambiance. You won’t even miss your car in Chur, as walking between the town’s many boutiques, restaurants and museums is a perfect way to take in the fresh mountain air.

Chur Switzerland

4. Bern

Switzerland’s capital, Bern, was named for the brown bears that lived there when it was founded, and Bear Park is the city’s wonderful tribute to its namesake. Bear Park is a vast, open-air bear enclosure where visitors can view bears playing and swimming in the adjoining river. Afterwards, try a walking tour of the huge collection of free public art strategically placed throughout the city.

Bern Switzerland

5. Geneva

Geneva is a fascinating destination for those interested in the inner workings of various international diplomacy agencies. Both the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross offer public tours, and you’ll be enthralled by this opportunity to see where diplomatic history is made every day. The art and libraries at the Palais des Nations are not to be missed, and the Jet d’Eau fountain, beautifully lit every evening, is a quintessential symbol of Geneva’s majesty.

Geneva Switzerland

6. Interlaken

Central Switzerland’s Interlaken is an entry point for many of the area’s skiing and outdoor sports hubs, and is a beautiful place to hike, swim or sail. Interlaken is situated between two placid lakes, and a relaxing boat tour of the city and its surrounding towns and castles is a great way to experience the whole of the area at once. If you’re into adventure sports, you may never want to leave Interlaken. Paragliding, river rafting and night sledding are all popular ways to get your adrenaline fix during your stay.

Interlaken Switzerland

7. Lausanne

Located at the northern edge of Lake Geneva, Lausanne is the portal to what is arguably the best skiing in the world. The International Olympic Committee is based in this panoramic city, and the Olympic Museum is a time capsule of iconic Olympic moments throughout history. If you’re visiting Lausanne with children, don’t miss out on the free zoo in the enchanting, light-filled Sauvabelin Forest.

Lausanne Switzerland

8. Luzern

Small and delightful, Luzern is an artistic community where medieval Swiss culture is well-preserved and respected. The most fascinating landmark in Luzern is the Chapel Bridge, built in the 14th century as a protective feature. Extending far out over the Reuss River, the bridge is covered in paintings and pictures depicting Swiss culture. While you’re in town, take an eerily steep cable-car ride up the slope of Mount Pilatus and bask in the wild, free Swiss countryside.

Luzern Switzerland

9. Lugano

With its palm trees and moderate climate, Lugano might make you feel like you’ve mistakenly left Switzerland. This lakefront city is a great destination for families, with Lido di Lugano providing ample swimming, public baths and sunny expanses of beach. The picturesque resort town is dotted with bars and restaurants where you can breathe in the fresh lake air while you enjoy some of the best seafood Switzerland has to offer.

Lugano Switzerland

10. St. Gallen

Brightly painted buildings and window shutters give a cheerful, friendly air to eastern Switzerland’s St. Gallen. The Abbey Library is the city’s pride and joy, where bookworms will have the rare chance to visit medieval books and documents more than a thousand years old. The car-free Old Town area is home to charming open-air markets on the weekends, and a chocolate factory and brewery provide tasty souvenirs of your stay.

St. Gallen Switzerland

11. Zurich

The bustling city of Zurich is packed with museums, shopping and nightlife, and you’ll want several days here to do as much as possible. Some can’t-miss attractions include the Landesmuseum, which is the largest Swiss history museum in the country, and the impressive Zoo Zurich, home to more than 300 species of animals. You’ll definitely want to take in a show at the cutting-edge theater Red Factory, and take a stroll down the Bahnhofsstrasse, the most expensive fashion avenue in the world.

Zurich Switzerland