10 Unique Racecation Ideas - RunBuzz

10 Unique Racecation Ideas


One of the coolest things about being a runner is using your passion as an excuse to take vacations all over the world. Before I got into running, a few of my friends signed up to do their first marathon together - in Jamaica. I already view marathon day (or half marathon day) as the "reward" for months of hard training, but to combine that with a vacation? Sign me up!

If you're itching to jump on the racecation bandwagon too (I mean, who wouldn't be?), here are the top destination marathons:

1. Big Sur International Marathon - Monterey, California


The gorgeous views along the coastline of Northern California more than makeup for the rolling hills of this challenging course. A 6-hour time limit doesn't make this a walker-friendly race, but, for those of you looking for a course to push you to your limits, there's no better place to do it.

Race Details

  • Location: Big Sur, California
  • Event Type: Road
  • Distance: Marathon, 21 miles, 11 miles, 12km, 5km, 3km
  • Max Elevation: 578 feet (176m)
    Min Elevation: 8 feet (2m)

I've done a few marathons myself, and I can safely say that hitting the wall would be a BREEZE if it happened right about the time I ran past the Eiffel tower. The route starts on the Avenue des Champs-Elysses, passes the Louvre, runs through the heart of Paris, along the Seine river, under the Pont Neuf, through a series of tunnels, and passes right by the Eiffel Tower. It's like you get a free tour of Paris just for running 26.2 miles!

Race Details

  • Location: Paris, France
  • Event Type: Road
  • Distance: Marathon
  • Max Elevation: 226 feet (68m)
    Min Elevation: 97 feet (29m)
 Rock-N-Roll Marathon Series - Multiple International Locations

I ran my first Rock-N-Roll marathon earlier this year, and I was very apprehensive about it. I thought that tens of thousands of runners would make race day logistics total chaos. But I couldn't be more mistaken - I had a wonderful time! With international stops in Dublin, Lisbon, and Mexico City, my only problem is deciding which foreign country to visit first.

Race Details

  • Location: Different international locations
  • Event Type: Road
  • Distance: 26.2 miles, 13.1 miles, 10k, 5k, 1 Mile

Yes, you have to conquer some ridiculous hills on this course, but the panoramic views at 2,100 meters above sea level will be totally worth it! Right?

Race Details

  • Location: Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains, Switzerland
  • Event Type: Trail, a mountain range
  • Distance: Mountain marathon
  • Total Elevation Gain: 5,960 feet (1816m)

Not only do you run through beautiful vineyards of the French countryside, but you also get wine at the 20+ aid stations on course. Many runners come in costume, acrobats have been part of race day festivities, and there are cheese and ice cream in the last 4k. Talk about motivation!

Race Details

  • Location: The vineyards and chateaux of Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Saint-Estèphe, Médoc and Haut-Médoc, beginning and ending in Pauillac
  • Event Type: Road
  • Distance: Marathon
  • Max Elevation: 92 feet (28m)
    Min Elevation: 3 feet (0.9m)
  • Activities During the Marathon: Musical breaks with 50 orchestras, 23 wine tasting stops, oysters tasting, steak.

Not many marathons can boast about border crossing as one of their race day perks. You start in New York, finish in Canada, and forever get the bragging right to say, "I ran from New York to Canada once."

Race Details

  • Location: Buffalo, US–Niagara Falls, Canada
  • Event Type: Road
  • Distance: Marathon
  • Max Elevation: 675 feet (205m)
    Min Elevation: 554 feet (168m)

Most serious runners have heard the story of the first marathon. A Greek messenger ran from Marathon to Athens to deliver important news, but, promptly after arriving, he died. Many non-runners chastise us, marathoners, for wanting to do something that killed the first person who ever tried it, but I just laugh in their faces. What better way to prove them wrong by running the world's first marathon course?

Race Details

  • Location: Athens, Greece
  • Event Type: Road
  • Distance: Marathon, 10k, 5k
  • Max Elevation: 708 feet (215m)
    Min Elevation: 636 feet (193m)

Tokyo has always been at the top of my travel bucket list, and this mostly flat, chilly course provides me with the perfect excuse to visit. The race boasts over 10,000 volunteers and 1.6 MILLION spectators!

Race Details

  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • Event Type: Road
  • Distance: Marathon
  • Max Elevation: 134 feet (40m)
    Min Elevation: 5 feet (1m)

While we're in the Western part of the world, why not run a marathon on the Great Wall of China? Seriously, you can do that. It may have 5,164 challenging steps to tackle, but running on one of the most famous landmarks of all time would be worth it.

Race Details

  • Location: Huangya Pass, Great Wall of China, China
  • Event Type: Road
  • Distance: Marathon, Half marathon, 10k
  • Course Elevation: About 650 feet (198m)

Billed as the most difficult marathon in the world, thanks to 10,400 feet in uphills and 11,000 feet of downhills, this marathon is certainly not appropriate for beginners. However, if you're looking for a challenging course through one of the most beautiful countries in the world, then consider training your buns off for this race. The course ends in the ancient city of Machu Picchu, so it's certainly worth the effort!

Race Details

  • Location: Southern Peruvian Andes, Cusco, Perú
  • Event Type: Trail, a mountain range
  • Distance: Marathon
  • Starting Elevation: 8400 feet (2560m)
    High Point:
    13800 feet (4206m)

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About the Author Erica House

Erica House has her Masters in Psychology and has been teaching at the University level since 2007. She is certified as a Personal Trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine as well as a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. After quitting smoking and maintaining a 50 pound weight loss she became passionate about helping others on their journey to lifelong happiness and wellness.