With the running season taking off soon in 2013, it’s time to lace up and head out of the door once again. If you are contemplating taking part in a more challenging race rather than the usual city routes offered in urban Singapore, check out these amazing races held all over the globe.

Runners travel far and wide to participate in these hugely popular runs held in some of the world’s most beautiful and unexpected terrains. Driven by a love of running and travel, participants from different continents and time zones journey far and wide to run their hearts out and forge memories that can never be erased.

Whether your legs are itching for some adventure or you simply need some inspiration, these runs with their unique and jaw dropping routes ought to do the trick. Test your mantle and find out if you have what it takes to participate in these five races that will be held this year.

1. Scale New Heights with the Great Wall Marathon: 18 May 2013

Last year’s 2012 edition saw more than 2000 runners from over 50 nations taking part in this unique race. With about 5164 steps to climb, you will literally be running on one of the wonders of the world. There is no prize money awarded in the Great Wall Marathon but the honour of completing it is in itself something that money cannot buy. The 360˚deg majestic view that the Great Wall has to offer is definitely one of the biggest draws of the race. There are three distances that you can take part in, the full marathon, half marathon or a 7.5km fun run for the less ambitious.

Courtesy of Great Wall Marathon

2. Discover the Mountains in the Everest Marathon: 29 May 2013

Known as the world’s most spectacular race, this is the 10th edition of the Everest marathon which was founded to commemorate the first successful ascent of Mount Everest by the Late Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and the Late Sir Edmund Hillary on 29th May, 1953.

This tough as nuts route will see runners taking off from the Everest Base Camp (5364m/17,598ft) and cross the finishing line at Namche Bazaar (3446m/11306ft). Mainly a downhill run, there are two steep uphill sections that will test the prowess of your legs. Exposure to the elements of snow and wind will surely add to this challenge and the experience of running on rough terrain is essential to get you through.

Courtesy of Everest Marathon

3. Go on a Safari and Run the Big Five Marathon: 22 June 2013

Named after the five most difficult animals to hunt in Africa which are the lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros, the Big Five Marathon has also received accolades from Forbes Magazine as one of the “Top 10 Marathons Worth Traveling For.”

Held at the Entabeni game reserve, between Johannesburg and the Kruger National Park, runners are truly in for a life changing experience as they run alongside, free and unseparated from African wildlife while enjoying the magnificent view of the African savanna.

Even with temperatures at a cool average of 15 to 20 deg ˚C, the weather can be very dry and sunny so runners are expected to be prepared with lots sunblock and to hydrate properly.

If you have always wanted to experience a safari, what better way than to run it at the same time?

Courtesy of Big Five Marathon

4. Feel the Thrills and Chills of Running the Polar Circle Marathon: 19 0ct 2013

Once again, guts and glory are tested in this icy edition of the Polar Circle Marathon 26.2 miles race. Taking place in Kangerlussuag, Greenland, just north of the Polar Circle, “the coolest marathon on earth “ as it is known takes runners through a terrain of glaciers, snow and the artic desert. Although most of the route is run on gravel, a section of it takes place on the chilly ice cap itself. Surprisingly, the race can be completed in normal running shoes though running spikes can be attached for a better grip. Wearing layers of clothing made especially for running in winter is essential as they protect you from the elements where temperatures can dip to -10deg ˚C and below.

Rediscover the beauty of nature by running at one of the most remote corners of the earth. Step into a whole new world where artic foxes reside, where fresh crisp air surrounds you while you race across a land of seemingly endless snow.

Courtesy of Polar Circle Marathon

5. First Ever Bagan Temple Marathon Run and it’s Not an iPhone Game: 2 Nov 2013

Culture vultures will fall in love with this marathon making its first ever debut in the ancient city of Bagan, Myanmar. Channel Indiana Jones and discover the ancient ruins, sacred pagodas and beautiful temples that are numerously scattered across the plains creating a stunning visual landscape. Starting and ending at the Htilominlo Temple, the Bagan Temple Marathon route is relatively flat with a mixture of gravel and sand on the roads and trails.

Perhaps it’s the allure of the mystical influences that fill the air in Bagan, that the chance to go on an epic journey of self-discovery while running a marathon beckons to the spirit of runners around the world.

Courtesy of Bagan Temple Marathon Run

So there you have it, five marathons to inspire you to run on and run free.

Travel Advice for Running Overseas

Plus, some travel advice for those who want to take part in overseas races:

  • Do your research beforehand. Check the paperwork needed to be completed before registering and don’t be afraid to contact the race organisers if you need additional info.
  • Get a medical check-up to ensure that you are medically fit for the more challenging routes, especially since altitude levels will be significantly higher in some cases.
  • Arrive early to acclimatise to the weather, different time zones and of course, the local food as the body needs time to adjust itself to new conditions.
  • Booking your tickets and hotels together on a reputable travel website like Wego Singapore (they power Yahoo! and major news sites) will give you better savings and great deals and at the same time check out the flight schedules for the best time and days to fly on.
  • Maximise your stay by factoring in recovery time, borrow guidebooks from the National Library and spend a few days exploring the diverse local cuisines and culture the country has to offer.
Sheryl Goh

Running as far as her legs will allow her, Sheryl loves the freedom of exploring new places that it brings. She loves to participate in local and overseas races and is also an avid diver and yogi.

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