We’ve made it to the final installment of the World’s Top 50 Marathons! In part X, we break down the final five marathons for runners and athletes to add to their destinations lists.
5. Chicago Marathon
The famous Bank of America Chicago Marathon is known as one of the races everyone should try running in at least once in their lifetime. It is the fourth largest race by the number of finishers in the world. It is often considered the pinnacle of achievement for elite athletes and everyday runners and is one of the six World Marathon Majors.
On the day, runners set out to reach the finish line in Grant Park. The marathon features a loop course and winds through a whopping 29 of the city’s neighborhoods but is generally divided into the North, West and South sections. Participants will pass stadiums in all three areas. For the first three miles, runners weave through Chicago’s downtown area and eventually head north. Throughout the course, runners are supported by around 12,000 volunteers spread throughout the route. Digital timers are also positioned along every 5km and the halfway point.
The race only allows 45,000 runners to participate and those who finish within 6 ½ hours are officially timed. Those who qualify to enter the race must meet a time qualifying standard to be selected through a general lottery. Although the race seems selective with limited registration, there are exceptions for elite runners, legacy finishers and charity representatives. Local, national and global charity organizations and humanitarian efforts are encouraged to sponsor participants in the event and it has become a lucrative way to fundraise.
4. Marathon on the Rocks
A race with a slice of history, nature and mythology is truly a unique and magnificent race to participate in. Marathon on the Rocks may not be the most well-known marathon in the world. However, it is one of the most stunning. Located in Denmark’s northern Bornholm, known as the Pearl of the Baltic Sea, Marathon on the Rocks offers a challenging scenic coast trail run.
Runners can enjoy a marathon or a half marathon throughout the rugged landscape of forest, small beaches, coastal cliffs, Medieval castle ruins, small fishing towns, tranquil harbors, and smokehouses. Throughout the path, Viking stones lie throughout the island, from runestones to menhirs and burial sites. Bornholm hosts over 1000 menhirs scattered across its island, more than any part of Denmark. As Bornholm was voted Europe’s second-best island in 2019, running in this scenic and enchanting wilderness will help runners truly appreciate humans’ connection with nature and the long history of our ability to work with the elements.
3. Bagan Temple Marathon
In central Myanmar, which is home to more than 2.000 temples, The Bagan Temple Marathon captures the country’s beauty and historical significance. Sacred pagodas and beautiful temples surround the trails, creating a mystical, striking landscape. The marathon trail takes runners on an exciting discovery into this alluring and wild landscape.
A relatively flat course, the route takes runners through small villages where it feels like time has paused. While there is no mountainous terrain to conquer, the hot weather and dusty trail prove to be challenging for many participants. However, the beautiful temples make for an otherworldly experience. Participants can choose to run the marathon, half-marathon, or 10 km. Mark your calendars because in 2022, the race will take place on November 26th and it’s a great way to see attractions and get more experience in a 7-hour completion time. You can register here.
2. Kenya Wildlife Marathon
Want to run in paradise? The Kenya Wildlife Marathon presents a race course with the option of various distances, including 5K, 10K, half-marathon and full marathon. The ancient course is set in the majesty of Kenya’s natural beauty and resources. Traversing hundreds of acres of grasslands, mountainous hills and riverbeds, the private Lukenya Sanctuary offers a natural utopia. The sanctuary is home to Zebras, Wildebeests, Giraffes and other wild creatures, so humans remain a minority at this virtually unspoiled reserve. Additionally, Kenya has reliably beautiful weather and participants will understand why Lukenya Hills is the perfect setting for a safari marathon. Those who sign up for the race also receive a 7-night stay, all meals included, a game drive in Amboseli National Park, and visits to Giraffe Manor and the David Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary, among other cultural activities.
Join the challenge as the coordinators launch an exciting new marathon tradition, combining the majesty of ancient pathways with the beauty of Kenya’s natural features. The next race will be held in June 2023.
1. Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon
Known as the People’s Race, the Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon is one of the best marathons to experience as a runner. A racing marathon for 20 years, the event is a breeding ground for local talent as the event attracts runners from both neighboring and international countries – with up to 45 nationalities of racers attending the event.
Many Tanzanians want to participate in the “Kili,” and the medals are worn with pride from the country’s cities of Tunduma to Taveta — and worldwide! The event has a big payoff for the region and sponsors building their CSR. The economic benefits to the Tanzanian nation and the region are huge. The race also influences a healthier lifestyle across the country, with many more people taking up running to keep healthy and socialize.
Situated at 5,895 meters, Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest mountain and is one of the most iconic sites for a person to see in their lifetime, let alone race near. At the end of February or beginning of March, the standard 42.2 km marathon, half marathon and 5 km fun run are held in the town of Moshi, in the foothills below Kilimanjaro. The electric atmosphere in the town is apparent as celebrations of the event bring together people from all over. Explore one of the most exciting international sports events in the world!