Training for and running a marathon requires physical stamina, mental dedication and emotional strength. Thousands of marathons occur annually, but only a select few have with jaw-dropping views. Viewing mountains, lakes, beaches and wildlife allow runners to mentally focus on the surroundings instead of leg pain. Once committed to running 26.2 miles, runners can “ease the pain” by running amongst nature’s best views in these featured races. However, some rewards require sacrifice such as hills, headwinds and yes, ice. Sign up fast, cause these views are sold quickly upon release.
Big Sur International Marathon | Big Sur, California
Jog along the nature-rich, west coast of Big Sur. The first four miles are treated with views of the massive redwoods of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Next, runners are routed to the famous, scenic Highway 1 then off to the dense and lush, Carmel highlands. It is possible to catch a spouting or breaching whale in the distance when along the coastline. The temperature averages between 50 to 60 degrees in this annual April run. Better register on opening day as this marathon generally sells out between 24-48 hours.
Kauai Marathon | Kauai, Hawaii
Kauai, “The Garden Isle” is lush, tropical and picturesque. Held annually over Labor Day weekend, the trail leads amongst famous beaches, volcanic mountains and tropical rainforests. Runners are amazed at the scenic coastline that allows the mind to drift away from the pain. To avoid the heat and humidity, the race commences at 6a.m. where participants may be treated to a nice sunrise.
The Polar Circle Marathon | Greenland
Enjoy one of the most scenic, and chilliest, runs in the world. Held in October, the average temperature is 15 degrees Fahrenheit, where it is possible to experience bouts of ice throughout the run. This trail is led through one of the most remote places on earth and is more of a 26.2-mile adventure than a run. Runners must stay on the signed trail to avoid a deadly encounter with a crevice. This for sure is one of the “coolest” marathons around!
Mount Lemmon Marathon | Tucson, Arizona
Known as the “World’s Toughest Road Marathon”, is also one of the most scenic marathons. Runners are rewarded with every style of ecosystem found between Mexico to Canada. The marathon takes place in the Santa Catalina Mountains, and meanders on the General Hitchcock Scenic Byway. This race climbs to more than 8,200 feet above sea level before descending toward the finish line at the small town of Summerhaven.
BMO Vancouver Marathon | Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Ranked a Top 10 Marathon Destination by Forbes, is an understatement of the beauty Vancouver BC offers. The race starts at Queen Elizabeth Park and meanders through the chic and clean, urban streets. Around the 15-kilometer mark runners are exposed to a long, beautiful ocean view, which treks through various parks and northwest-inspired beaches. Next, runners continue enjoying various water and mountain views through running the parameter of the famous, Stanley Park to end at the Vancouver Convention Center. This is world-class, must-experience marathon that is held annually in May.
Lake Tahoe Marathon | Lake Tahoe, California
This marathon occurs annually in September, and features a magnificent route along part of the parameter of Lake Tahoe from McKenny Bay to Kiva Beach. Run between 6,400-6,800 feet of elevation while gazing at various peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Weather this time of year averages a high of 69 degrees and 30 degrees at night.
Lake Crater Lake Marathon | Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
This annual August race is a stunning lake and mountain view race. Runners get in touch with nature as they reach various altitudes between 6,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation. During the summer season, the weather usually begins at 50 degrees in Fahrenheit and ends around 70 degrees. This run is more than a race; it is an experience of a lifetime.