Running is one of the most universal sports on the planet. While marathons were once considered an extreme test of the sports elite, today, marathons attract thousands of participants from all over the world. Over the last few decades, there has been a significant increase in the number of marathon participants. This can be attributed to a number of factors, including enhanced marketing strategies, social fitness groups and a passion for the sport. For those who love to test the boundaries of human endurance, here is a list of the most epic Marathons to run in 2018.
Run on the 16th of April, the Boston Marathon is perhaps one of the most iconic races in the world. Since the bombings in 2013, the race has come to embody the strength and hope of the runners involved, as well as the city that hosts the event. Officially the oldest contested marathon, the race starts in Hopkinton and finishes at the famous Boylston Street passing through some breath taking cityscapes on the way.
The Great Wall Marathon
Taking place in late May 2018, the Great Wall Marathon might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but is certainly a once in a lifetime race. To take on this race, runners must have a steadfast constitution and thighs of steel. The humid muggy weather doesn’t help the situation and the 5,164 odds steps will turn even the most experienced climbers to quivering wrecks. Those who finish must feel like they have hit the jackpot playing casino games, as apparently the final stretch reduces many runners to tears of relief.
Great Ocean Road Marathon
For those who can make their way to Australia for the race at the end of May, the Great Ocean Road Marathon is more than just a 42km race. Winding along the one of the world’s most iconic coastlines, the point-to-point course is a mishmash of stunning beauty, interspaced with gruelling hills and long stretches of leg-strength sapping straights. There is also the option of completing an extra 3km for the full course that will take you into Apollo Bay.
Inca Trail Marathon to Machu Picchu
Hiking the Inca Trail is something that has appeared on the bucket list of just about every couch traveller. For those that actually go out and do it, the experience is nothing short of life changing. Turing this iconic trail into the most difficult marathon on earth was the brainchild of a genius, or a sadist. Taking place in June 2018, the marathon is reserved for the fittest and healthiest runners as it ascends around 10 400 feet before dropping another 11 000 before runners arrive in the ancient lost city of Machu Picchu. As is the case with most marathons, the journey is everything.
The Big Five Marathon
If you are traveling to South Africa, you may want to participate in two of the world’s best ultra-marathons, which include the Two Oceans and the Comrades. While these are both epic races in themselves, it is the Big Five Marathon in Limpopo, which is perhaps South Africa’s most unique race. This 42km race runs right through the African savannah. Void of any fences or barriers, runners make their way through the surrounding wildlife, which include the iconic Big Five of Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Rhino and Elephant. The race may not be the most technical, but is certainly memorable.
Taking place in September 2018, the Jungfrau Marathon is one of the most demanding and spectacular races in the world. This a marathon that is a race to the top that sees runners ascend over 2,100 meters above sea level to the top of Switzerland’s most impressive mountain ranges. Staring with a 10km flat run along Lake Brienz, the race soon turns sharply upward and no amount of hill training can prepare you for the climb to the Eiger and Jungfrau Mountains.
Cayman Islands Marathon
Scheduled to be held in December 2018, the Cayman Islands Marathon is possibly one of the most personal and quirky races anywhere in the world. The race is not particularly difficult, not particularly long or technical. It does have an early start though at 5am, but being surrounded by the tropical waters as you run 2 laps around the flat course is more than worth the effort. You can even head to the beach for an ice-cold beer after the race!