How Runners Choose a Destination Race: Many Runners Combine a Marathon with Vacation Travel

Marathon running is becoming more popular with runners. Various locales offer marathon and half marathon races to entice runners with a trip that combines vacation with an amazing running experience. Choosing the right location often allows runners to bring family and friends to enjoy the marathon as well. Some considerations are important when deciding on a destination marathon. Running the race is also an up-close and personal way to see sights many tourists may miss.

Marathon Training Season

Marathons take place all around the world at various times of the year. Planning for a vacation marathon includes accounting for the time of year training will occur. Runners from cooler climates participating in a winter race in a warm locale such as the Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando, FL, which is scheduled every January. Participants need to plan their training accordingly since most training runs will take place in much cooler weather than the temperature usually expected on race morning. The opposite is true for summer races such as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach which takes place annually on Labor Day weekend. Athletes need to be prepared for hot, humid temperatures on race weekend.

Planning a Marathon Vacation

One of the most important questions to answer is when to schedule the vacation portion of the trip. Many runners prefer to have the race at the early part of the vacation to insure they don’t tire their legs while visiting a vacation area. Allowing one or two days before the race to acclimate and rest is helpful for a good race performance. The rest of vacation can then be focused on sight-seeing and relaxation.

Marathon Race as Family Vacation Travel

The Walt Disney World Marathon and Disneyland Half Marathon are the most well-known races at family vacation destinations. Both are popular tourist resorts with plenty of activities for all family members. Disney World’s Marathon Weekend occurs in January, while the Disneyland Half takes place in September.

The prestigious Chicago Marathon and Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon take place in the Windy City in October and August respectively. The race courses include portions along Lake Michigan with popular tourist destinations nearby, including Soldier Field, Navy Pier and The Field Museum.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series for Runners Who Like to Party

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series is expanding with new venues every year. Each of these races includes various bands along the race course to keep the party atmosphere alive. The Las Vegas Marathon and Half Marathon take place in December. These races give those athletes interested in Las Vegas vacation travel a chance to run the Las Vegas strip.


The newest Rock ‘n’ Roll race is the Mardi Gras Marathon on New Orleans. Athletes wanting to vacation in New Orleans have the opportunity to run a marathon or half marathon in late February.

Exotic Marathon Destinations

Running marathons in Hawaii is very popular. There are several races each year, offering flat course with gorgeous scenery. The Honolulu Marathon and Maui Marathon are two of the more popular Hawaiian marathon races.

The Great Wall Marathon in China offers an amazing destination with a challenging marathon course. Runners run along the Great Wall of China which means completing over 5,000 stairs with the remainder of the race through villages and rice fields. Ascent and descent can be as much as a 10% grade. The race can be punishing but the scenery is incredible.

Extreme Marathon Race Travel

For those runners interested in opposite ends of the earth, there is the North Pole Marathon and its companion race, the Antarctic Ice Marathon. The North Pole Marathon bills itself as the “World’s Coolest Marathon”. This race offers truly unusual terrain, taking place entirely on Arctic ice floes. Racers in the Antarctic can expect temperatures with wind chill of -20 degrees Celsius while running at an elevation of 3000 ft.

Marathon Cruise to Alaska and the Caribbean

Two runner’s cruises are offered by John ‘The Penguin’ Bingham, known as the author of ‘The Courage to Start’ and other running books for ‘adult-onset’ athletes. The Great Alaskan Marathon Cruise takes runners on a week-long cruise, completing the marathon distance in stages over the course of the trip. Each day brings different mileage in Alaskan ports with varying terrain. The Caribbean Islands Marathon Cruise is a similar idea, but visits ports in Turk and Caicos, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Book a Marathon Vacation

Destination marathons are a great way to combine marathon racing with vacation travel. Many options are available from family trips to exotic locales to extreme adventure travel. See a travel agent for more information!

We hope you liked this article about marathon training and visiting great destinations.

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