Looking for a marathon outside the city streets? From Alaska to Australia, Mongolia to Paris, we've rounded up some really amazing and unique races to test you as a runner, and provide an incredible experience at the same time.
Half Corked Marathon
Dates: May 29-31, 2020
Run routes: relaxed routes with frequent stops for wine and fine cuisine along the way
Location: Okanagan, British Columbia
Terrain: wine country
Status: Registration closed
Ok, so technically this one isn’t a summer marathon, but it’s such a gem it made our list. When you run Half Corked in Okanagan wine country, you hustle, stop awhile, drink, repeat. You enjoy the wine. You burn off the wine. Perfect. And in case that’s not enough, there’s a picnic for all participants after the finish line. We bet you’re already looking forward to next spring
Date: June 20, 2020
Run routes: loop course, 23 k
Location: Kusam Klimb, Sayward, British Columbia
Terrain: rugged, mountainous
Status: Registration open
Our list ends off with a gritty, uphill battle of a run in the Canadian wild. British Columbia’s Kusam Klimb navigates the back of Mount H’Kusam and provides breathtaking views of Vancouver Island, mountain peaks, and straits. Once you fight your way up the rocky incline, you can catch your breath on your way down the Stowe Creek watershed. The Klimb is a path run, so for this one we recommend you swap out your runners for trail shoes.
Alaska Salmon Runs
Date: July 18, 2020
Routes: point-to-point courses that include the King salmon marathon, Sockeye ½ , Coho 10 K, Humpy 5 K, and the One Mile Salmon Fun Run/Walk
Location: Cordova, Alaska
Terrain: flat, both gravel and paved, and at sea level
Race through untouched wilderness but be careful: you might see a bear! Seriously; you probably will. And a moose. Cordova’s an impressive natural environment that boasts an epic salmon migration and one of America’s most environmentally conscious races. The Alaskan fishing village lends its marathon a keen awareness of nature’s processes, its ebb and flow; it’s a great mindset to have while you huff and puff (or swag and strut - you do you!) your way to the finish line.
Australian Outback Marathon
Date: July 25
Run routes: circular course marathon, with ½, 6 K, and 10 k also available
Location: Australian Hinterland
Terrain: flat plains, both sandy desert and graded tracks, mountainous areas, inland, and dry
Status: Sold out for this year.
Do you really want to add to the trillion other Sydney-Opera-House-selfies on Instagram? While vacationing in Australia, why not challenge yourself to run against the trend and into the Outback? Race along bush-fire trails during the Australian Outback Marathon and take in the more rugged inland views of the continent. On route back to the finish line at the twelfth kilometre, you’ll have to navigate the dunes but will be rewarded with spectacular views of Uluru (Ayers Rock), which stands picturesque within the borders of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. You may not experience this run this year, as the marathon is sold out, but we def recommend you book yourself a spot in the future.
E.T. Full Moon Midnight Marathon
Dates: August 1-2, 2020
Run routes: point-to-point and circular marathons offered at distances of ½, 5 k, 10 k, and 51 k
Location: Rachel, Nevada
Terrain: flat, paved, in a desert, and at elevations of 4000 – 5600 feet
2019 Status: Registration open
Do you believe in aliens? Well, you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to enjoy Nevada’s E.T. race. But you could look for UFOs as you pound the pavement of Nevada State Route 375, the famous Extraterrestrial Highway. The marathon’s races cut through Nevada’s desert vegetation surrounded by stunning mountain views. Don’t freak out too much about the desert part though: Rachel, NV is typically 15 degrees cooler than the Las Vegas Valley, and you’ll be running at midnight so temps will be in the 60s. Don’t forget to wear your reflective running vest, headlamp, and complementary glow bracelet for this one!
Not Since Moses
Date: August 22, 2020
Routes: turn around / loop course for 5 K, point to point 10 K, and youth run
Location: Five Islands, Nova Scotia
Terrain: Ocean floor
Status: Registration open
Have you ever wanted to run across the ocean’s floor, and still maintain your breathing while doing it? Sign up for Not Since Moses and you can. During mid summer for a few days, the tide fully recedes on the Bay of Fundy and allows 800+ runners to splash through its muddy floor. This east coast race is tough. It’s dirty. Be sure to wear your old trainers and save your new kicks for the city.
Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset
Date: August 12, 2020
Routes: single track, turn around / loop course, 42 K and 100 K trail runs
Location: Hovsgol National Park, Mongolia
Terrain: lakeside wooded areas, windblown lowlands, mountains, and river valleys
Status: Registration status unclear but 2020 registration will be open
One participant describes this beast of a race as being near the end of the world. The race organizers give future participants the heads up that Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset is a very remote race, and traveling to and from requires foresight and caution. On race day, you would set out north from camp and endure diverse terrain and weather, level footing to inclines to declines, calm winds to high winds and likely some temperature drops [the Hovsgol National Park marathon’s accumulated elevation gain/loss is between 7,400 ft to 11,040 ft].. For you 100 K runners, there’s a first aid station at the finish line. All concerns aside though, the Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset atmosphere is serene: for half the marathon distance you enjoy a run beside the park’s pristine alpine lake and its shore region decor of unique wildflowers. Overall, you will immerse yourself in the rural, peace-loving world of nomadic Mongol people who live in yurts and tend herds of horses, cattle, and yaks. And also, you can rest assured that what you are doing is for a good cause: all proceeds from the race go directly to the environmentally and culturally driven ecoLeap Foundation.
Date: August 15, 2020
Routes: circular courses around lakes, marathon, ½, 5.5 K, and 10.5 K
Location: Swedish Countryside
Terrain: lakeside flat lowlands, mountains, and trees
2019 status: Registration open
Nature’s option to dining and shopping in Stockholm, the 6 Lakes marathon immerses you in the landscape of Sweden’s lake district. The small scale race (200-300 participants) allows you to pace yourself, with room to breathe, and take in the clean, Swedish air and gorgeous views of the lakes. Bring your pup along too! 6 Lakes encourages runners who own dogs to bring their four-footed friends along for the journey. Perhaps the best part about the marathon, though, is after you cross the finish line: all runners are invited to take a refreshing swim to celebrate their achievement.
Disneyland Paris Race Weekend
Dates: September 24-27, 2020
Routes: 5 K, 10 K, and kid races
Location: Marne-la-Vallée, France [32 km east of Paris]
Terrain: theme park
Status: Registration open
Want to race alongside your family? Disney’s race weekend is all about the familial vibes. Run along the course of your choosing while being cheered on by your favourite disney characters. So fun, right? The Disneyland Paris race is just one of the annual races held as a part of runDisney. There’s also a Star Wars themed run in the spring