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The World’s 26.2 Most Awesome Marathons Will Inspire You to Start Training

The World’s 26.2 Most Awesome Marathons Will Inspire You to Start Training

Whether running a marathon is something you’re itching to check off your bucket list or you’re already an accomplished runner, these amazing races will make you want to lace up and start putting in some miles. There are races nearly everywhere these days – here are some of the world’s best marathons.

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              1. The Boston Marathon, Boston, MA (April)

              Despite tragedy and heartbreak, this marathon remains beloved by runners. You’ve got to be quick, though – to get a lottery spot to enter the Boston Marathon, you’ve got to complete an approved marathon within a specified amount of time, calculated based on your age (these races are known as “BQs,” for “Boston Qualifiers”). If you’re only hoping to run a marathon once, Boston’s out of your league – but it’s still an amazing spot to stand and cheer. Experienced racer? Well then you already know all about this one!

              2. Athens Classic Marathon, Athens, Greece (November)

              This is as close to the original marathon as you’re likely to get, because you’re literally running the 26.2 miles from Marathon (hence the name!) to Athens traced by the soldier Pheidippides back in 490 BC as he delivered the message that the Greeks had defeated the Persians.

              3. The Great Wall Marathon, Huangyaguan, China (May)

              Running a marathon is no easy feat. Running a marathon during which you climb more than 5,000 steps? Okay, it might be crazy. But running a race atop the Great Wall of China, one of the 7 Manmade Wonders of the World, is definitely going to get you serious bragging rights. In addition to running the Great Wall, racers also make their way through rural villages.

              4. Wineglass Marathon, Corning, NY (October)

              If you’re looking for a flat and fast BQ, the Wineglass Marathon is definitely one to look up. Run through beautiful fall foliage as you wind your way through the Finger Lakes from Bath to Corning, NY. America’s “Crystal City” is home to the historic Corning glass factory, hence the unique medal for this race – handmade glass. Plus you get to toast yourself at the finish line with a commemorative wine glass and mini bottle of bubbly!

              5. Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV (November)

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                  All of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon events are organized and well-run, but Vegas is special for four little words: The Strip at night. Yup, one side of Las Vegas Boulevard actually gets shut down, and you get to see Sin City at its gaudiest. There’s also entertainment throughout the course (Snoop Dogg is the headliner at this year’s race). Another bonus: It’s possibly the one marathon you’ll find that you don’t have to get up super-early to run!

                  6. Big Sur International Marathon, Big Sur, CA (April)

                  If the headwinds and hill climbs don’t take your breath away, the scenery will. This marathon travels along Highway 1 from Big Sur to Carmel, passing through redwood forests, across gorges, and past astonishing views of the Pacific Ocean. Though the marathon is capped at 4,500 runners, there are also several shorter races held the same day.

                  7. Asics LA Marathon, Los Angeles, CA (March)

                  They say nobody walks in LA, but every year thousands run it, on a scenic course that goes from from Dodgers Stadium to Santa Monica. Angelenos turn out in full force to cheer them on, too – spectators are known to outnumber participants at a ratio of 40 to 1!

                  8. Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Chicago, IL (October)

                  This supersize marathon hosts a whopping 45,000 runners, but the Windy City is at its most hospitable cheering them on. The fast and flat course winds through pretty much every Chicago neighborhood, with fantastic architecture and historic landmarks abounding. Plus, you can motivate yourself to keep going by promising yourself a post-run slice of deep-dish pizza.

                  9. Marathon Du Medoc, Bordeaux, France (September)

                  It’s the marathon equivalent of a fun run – well, the fanciest fun run you can imagine. Each year, the Marathon Du Medoc has a theme, and nearly all runners dress in appropriate costumes as they traverse the scenic course, which includes stops along the way for 20+ wine tastings and just as many food stands. You won’t run a PR here (the race’s logo is a wine-besotted runner), but that’s not the idea, anyway.

                  10. Virgin Money London Marathon, London, England (April)

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                              Part of the World Marathon Majors Series, this flat, fast course is a tour of London. You’ll run over London Bridge, past Big Ben and Parliament, and finish at Buckingham Palace.

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                              11. Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, Pittsburgh, PA (May)

                              This BQ takes you all around the Steel City, traversing five bridges as you cross all three rivers and tour its historic neighborhoods. Though the course is a bit hilly, the last 5 miles are all downhill – and the city’s sports fans line the streets, encouraging you to finish strong.

                              12. Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (January)

                              If you’re looking for a destination marathon, Dubai is definitely a spot to go big. The fast and flat course starts and ends at the world’s tallest building (the Burj Khalifa), and if a runner breaks a world record, he or she wins a million dollars (it’s also the “world’s richest race”).

                              13. Kaiser Permanente Colfax Marathon, Denver, CO (May)

                              Looking for an altitude challenge? The Mile-High City has got you covered. Colfax Avenue is the longest continuous commercial street in the U.S., so you’re on the same road for almost the entire race (except when the course takes awesome detours, like running through Mile High Stadium) with locals cheering you the whole way.

                              14. Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon, Napa, CA (March)

                              This race could be described as an intimate, romantic marathon – just you and 2,299 other runners, winding your way through the vineyards of California Wine Country. After the first few miles of rolling hills, it’s a mainly downhill course, making it a great choice for marathon newbies.

                              15. TCS New York City Marathon, New York, NY (November)

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                                          Why run this marathon? Because it’s New Yawk, fuhgeddaboutit! But seriously, the largest marathon in the U.S. is a pretty amazing way to see all five boroughs of the Big Apple. Racing with a charity-focused team ups your chances of getting picked in the lottery.

                                          16. Big Five Marathon, Limpopo, South Africa (June)

                                          Destination marathons don’t get much more exotic than this. Named for the “big five” game species in South Africa (lions, leopards, Rhinos, Cape buffalo, and African elephants), the race goes through the privately-owned Entabeni Game Reserve. The start time and the exact route depend on the location of the animals, making the race a safari on foot.

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                                          17. Missoula Marathon, Missoula, MT (July)

                                          Another small town BQ, this point-to-point race was developed by the organization Run Wild Montana, who wanted to share the state’s beauty with other runners. It worked! This race has racked up accolades from runners around the world and become a favorite community event.

                                          18.Utah Valley Marathon, Provo, UT (June)

                                          Looking to add another state to your list? Don’t overlook Utah! This BQ course takes you downhill from Wallsburg to Provo, past spectacular views of waterfalls, rolling hills, and canyons. It’s capped at 2,000 runners, so register early (it’s also worth mentioning that registration is quite inexpensive as marathons go – under $100 until 2 months before the event).

                                          19. Cane Growers Great Barrier Reef Marathon Festival, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia (November)

                                          Don’t get too excited for cool temperatures – remember, it’s summer in the southern hemisphere. Still, starting on a beach, racing through sugar cane plantations, and running alongside rainforest make this run Down Under a fantastic destination marathon.

                                          20. Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris, Paris, France (April)

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                                                      If you want a less wine-filled way to run France, the Paris International Marathon takes runners along the Seine and past the Bastille, the Louvre, and the Place de la Concorde, with the course finishing (naturally) at the Arc de Triomphe. It’s a huge field (as many as 40,000 entrants), but it’s an amazing way to see one of the world’s greatest cities.

                                                      21. SPAR Budapest Marathon, Budapest, Hungary (October)

                                                      Want to run a European marathon that’s a little bit off the beaten path, but still in a major city? Don’t overlook the Budapest Marathon, which features a fast, flat course that takes you along the Danube River.

                                                      22. Walt Disney World Marathon, Orlando, FL (January)

                                                      If you’ve got kids or you’re a kid at heart, you’ll love this destination race which takes you through the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios… you’ll even run through Cinderella’s castle! This race offers nonstop visual wonders (think parade floats and circus acts), not to mention all your favorite Disney characters and princesses cheering you on. The marathon starts and ends at Epcot – it really is a small world, after all.

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                                                      23. Mississippi Blues Marathon, Jackson, MS (January)

                                                      This sweet little marathon (less than 1,000 runners) boasts enormous charm, with live blues musicians entertaining runners throughout the course. Plenty of locals come out to share some Southern hospitality and cheer on the runners, too!

                                                      24. Mount Desert Island Marathon, Bar Harbor, ME (October)

                                                      Spectacular coastal views can be found on the east coast, too. This BQ takes runners through quaint New England villages, and you’ll also run on the Atlantic Coast’s only true fjord. The rocky trails do slow things down, but they also make this marathon more about camaraderie than competition.

                                                      25. Honolulu Marathon, Honolulu, HI (December)

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                                                                  And speaking of spectacular views! This Oahu marathon starts in Ala Moana Beach Park, then takes you through Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, Hawaii Kai, and more. Though the race has an extra-early start time (5 am), it does help runners avoid the heat and humidity – and leaves plenty of time to kick back and relax at the post-race luau.

                                                                  26. Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon, Cincinnati, OH (May)

                                                                  Said you’ll run a marathon “when pigs fly”? Cincinnati’s calling your bluff! The perfect event for newbies, the Flying Pig is designed to be a fun, laid-back race. Spectators are encouraged to do everything they can – from cheering to making fun signs to juggling – to boost runners’ spirits and keep everyone smiling.

                                                                  26.2. The Color Run

                                                                  It’s not a marathon, but that’s why it’s the “.2” in this marathon list! “The Happiest 5K on the Planet” takes place in more than 30 countries, with over 170 different events. Runners begin the race wearing white, and end up doused in multi-colored paint. See www.thecolorrun.com to find a race near you.

                                                                  Featured photo credit: soozed via flickr.com

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                                                                  Last Updated on January 21, 2020

                                                                  The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                                                                  The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                                                                  Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

                                                                  your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

                                                                    Why You Need a Vision

                                                                    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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                                                                    How to Create Your Life Vision

                                                                    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

                                                                    What Do You Want?

                                                                    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

                                                                    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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                                                                    Some tips to guide you:

                                                                    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
                                                                    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
                                                                    • Give yourself permission to dream.
                                                                    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
                                                                    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

                                                                    Some questions to start your exploration:

                                                                    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
                                                                    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
                                                                    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
                                                                    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
                                                                    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
                                                                    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
                                                                    • What qualities would you like to develop?
                                                                    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
                                                                    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
                                                                    • What would you most like to accomplish?
                                                                    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

                                                                    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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                                                                    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

                                                                    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

                                                                    A few prompts to get you started:

                                                                    • What will you have accomplished already?
                                                                    • How will you feel about yourself?
                                                                    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
                                                                    • What does your ideal day look like?
                                                                    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
                                                                    • What would you be doing?
                                                                    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
                                                                    • How are you dressed?
                                                                    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
                                                                    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
                                                                    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

                                                                    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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                                                                    Plan Backwards

                                                                    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

                                                                    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
                                                                    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
                                                                    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
                                                                    • What important actions would you have had to take?
                                                                    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
                                                                    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
                                                                    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
                                                                    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
                                                                    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

                                                                    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

                                                                    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

                                                                    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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