Run around the world with Sweaty Betty's top 15 marathons
Here at the Sweaty Betty headquarters in London, many members of the team are in the full swing of marathon training ahead of the Virgin London Marathon on 26 April. And as we know there’s an incredible community of runners around the world preparing to tackle 26.2 miles through an array of events, we've pinpointed 15 of the finest marathons on our radar. Read on and get ready to make a few additions to your bucket list…
The home of Sweaty Betty’s first boutique, London is also home to one of the world’s most popular marathons. “Running around a city in which I went to university and continue to work takes me back through so many memories in my mind,” says Cassie from Sweaty Betty’s Bluewater boutique. Every spring, more than 35,000 runners converge on a flat and fast course winding along the River Thames. Expect big crowds and convivial spirits.
This Autumn race is one of Europe’s most picturesque, and Sweaty Betty's Edinburgh boutique assistant Hannah Melville says she can “imagine nothing better than racing over all the bridges and watching the gondolas go by”.
Imagine if the sun never set. Then book yourself into the Midnight Sun Marathon in Norway and make it happen. It’s the world’s northernmost marathon and begins at night, when the sun is still shining brightly during the early summer months. Of course, that means this marathon takes place very far north, so pack your winter thermals because it won’t feel anything like the summer you know and love.
“How to deal with the heat?!” That’s garment technologist Jennie Holmes’ only hesitation about booking into the Athens marathon and reliving the messenger boy Pheidippides’ original journey. While you won't have news to deliver about the outcome of a historic battle, following his footsteps over the challenging hills that pepper the route from Marathon to Athens will take you right back to 490BC.
After traversing five of the Big Apple’s most beautiful boroughs, the New York City Marathon medal will be the show-and-tell memento you come back to time and time again. True to the spirit of the city’s hustle and bustle culture, this is a fast-paced marathon that will see you accelerate to an iconic Central Park finish.
A rural and very exclusive marathon, the heart-stopping coastal views of this California marathon are the reason race places book up so quickly. The course runs along the hilly Highway 1 and through seven state parks, and it's a feast for the eyes that makes every mile worthwhile. Sweaty Betty’s Fulham manager Ruth Martin says this is number one on her bucket list – and she doesn’t even mind that it starts extremely early in the morning.
7. Marathon du Medoc, France
Surely the world’s most laidback marathon, this wine-fuelled race ambles through some of France’s finest vineyards and promises enticing food stations in the final four kilometres. You’ll have the opportunity to taste over 20 wines and the menu can include anything from oysters to cheese platters. This one's not for runners after a new PB.
8. Patagonian International Marathon
A relatively new marathon, this race explores the best the natural world has to offer in Patagonia’s diverse landscape. Only 1,000 runners are permitted entry, and everyone who passes the finish line gets a tree planted in their honour. Sweaty Betty loves this way of making a mark on the world through exercise.
9. Berlin Marathon
A headline entry in the World Marathon Majors, Berlin is extremely flat and a popular race for first-time marathon runners. Helping you keep up the pace are the 80 bands located around the course’s many turns. And this just scratches the surface of Berlin’s edgy arts and music scene.
10. Rock ‘n’ Roll Maratona de Lisboa
Another popular marathon for music lovers, this Mediterranean race runs from the seaside town of Cascais to buzzy Lisbon for a grand finish surrounded by the capital city’s impressive architecture. Leave your headphones behind and run to the rhythm of more than 30 live bands, and an enthusiastic crowd at every turn.
11. Niagara Falls International Marathon
When running a marathon in one country isn’t enough, the Niagara Falls International Marathon is a border-straddling race that leads you to one of Canada’s most beautiful tourist destinations. Cross the International Peace Bridge to make your way from New York State into Ontario and follow the sound of Niagara Falls ahead. Sweaty Betty’s resident Canadian and copywriter Brit Williams is already pencilling it into her next visit home.
12. The Great Wall Marathon
An uphill race, 26.2 miles on China’s Great Wall translates to exactly 5,164 steps. The hot weather and steep climbs are all worth it for dramatic 360? views of the countryside. You’ll also get an inspiring look into the rural communities along the way as local villagers come out to show their support. You won’t complete this marathon without making memories for life.
13. Great Ocean Road Marathon, Australia
A nation obsessed with fitness, Australia has some great contenders for our list of top marathons. But this spectacular coastal course stands out most, its steep and winding road to Apollo Bay combining beautiful scenery with a truly challenging test for any running enthusiast. Again, #TeamSB recommends foregoing your headphones and tuning into the crashing waves below.
14. Inca Trail Marathon, Peru
The world’s most difficult marathon tests you on multiple levels. There’s the 10,400 foott ascent up Machu Picchu, but there’s also the heady effect of running at altitude. Completing the 26.2 miles of this Peruvian race requires steadfast determination and precise footing across its rocky trails and imperfect steps. What you stand to gain, however, is an unparalleled appreciation for one of the world’s seven wonders.
Finishing on a light note, the Walt Disney World Marathon makes a colourful start to the year with January runners dressing in Disney paraphernalia to race through all four of the Disney World theme parks. Hang the Mickey Mouse finisher medal around your neck and join in on one of the most vibrant post-marathon celebrations around.
What's your favourite marathon? Share your own experiences with @sweatybetty on Twitter.