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Where are the world’s most scenic marathons?

October 9, 2015


It doesn’t matter where you’re going to run: the buildings, the landmarks and the general scenery are all going to dictate part of how you feel during the event.

Cityscapes can often be extremely rewarding, especially in major urban hubs, such as London or New York. Conversely, running alongside the coast, Brighton for instance, makes for a hugely appealing prospect and definitely adds a scenic air of calm alongside the cheering, happy crowds.

Choosing which marathon course you’re going to run for the first time can often depend on where you live. However, if you’re looking to combine great sights with an awesome experience, check out the six scenic marathon routes below and don’t forget your camera.

Venice, Veneto, Italy – 25th October 2015

Seriously, if you’re looking for scenery whilst running a marathon then there are few finer and more unique examples than Italy’s premier north eastern city, Venezia. Starting at the Villa Pisani and set against a backdrop of villas, bridges and piazzas, the Venice Marathon is one of the world’s most special events with plenty of appeal for families, beginners and pros alike. Picturesque does not do this route justice and anyone hoping to run back in time and incorporate the history, heritage and culture of one of Europe’s most revered locations has to add Venice to their hit list.

Jungfrau, Switzerland – 12th September 2015

There can be few more beautiful sights other than snow-capped mountain peaks and ice cold melt-water lakes which is why the Jungfrau marathon encapsulates the true meaning of stunning scenery. Not only will the sweeping views over Interlaken and Kleine Scheidegg take your breath away but the altitude at almost 1900 metres might well do the same. There really is nothing like this anywhere else in Europe with some of the Alps most iconic mountains adding to an absolutely exhilarating and challenging marathon experience.

Marathon du Medoc, Bordeaux, France – 12th September 2015

It would be a shame to run through one of Europe’s most revered wine regions without at least stopping off for a tipple along the way which is why Marathon du Medoc always proves to be a draw for athletes and wine buffs alike. This ‘race’ gives participants the chance to put the fun back into run as fancy dress is obligatory as is consuming over 20 glasses of regional reds. Aside from the wine there’s more than enough cheese, meats and crackers to go round with a backdrop of chateaus, vineyards and lakes adding to one of the world’s most unique and enjoyable marathons.

Florence, Tuscany, Italy – 29th November 2015

Renowned for its Renaissance artwork and architecture, Florence (Firenze) is one of the world’s most enduring cities and certainly a great setting to run 26.2 miles. In general, the course is flat and takes in many of the city’s characterful piazzas and major sights including the Santa Maria del Fiore, the Ponte Vecchio and Michelangelo’s statue of David. Although there are a fair few cobbles and not too many cheering crowds, this is definitely one to add to the scenic hit list and a must if you’re hoping to lose yourself within the beauty and culture of Tuscany’s world-famous citadel.

Big Sur, California, West Coast USA – 24th April 2016

Serious scenery on the west coast of America has to be experienced first-hand. An early start to the Big Sur marathon guarantees you get to make the most of the entire day as well as avoiding the midday heat and if you’re hoping to incorporate giant redwoods, undulating hillsides and those crashing Pacific coast rollers then this is the one for you. There is a time limit of six hours but if you can better an average of around 13 minutes per mile you should be on track to experience the coast with the most alongside the awesome sights on Highway One.

Great Wall of China, Tianjin Province (near Beijing) – 21st May 2016

Why not save the best to last? There can be few more iconic images on the planet other than China’s Great Wall and if you’re hoping to take on just over 5000 steps as you wind through valleys, past villages and across hillsides then this will be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, marathons to put you through your paces. With a cut off time of eight hours, you’ll be expected to grin and bear it if you don’t complete prior to 2pm but if you can handle the heat, the altitude and those steps then the views are simply sublime and well worth the inevitable calf strain.

Whichever scenic marathon you’ve set your sights on, just remember that preparation is the key to having an enjoyable all round experience. Running in a different country can throw up numerous obstacles that you might not have thought of so just aim to take everything in your stride rather than dwelling too much on any negatives.


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