The forthcoming annual event that is the London Marathon is no good for the sloth inside. Watching it every year, normally in bed (well it is a Sunday morning), gorging on bacon sandwiches I eternally promise myself… ‘next year’.
When you really think about it, this marathon lark makes a lot of sense. For the ultimate in activity holidays you gain super-fit status and see the world into the bargain. If you need a bit of convincing before you dig your mouldy trainers out of the wardrobe, take a look at these for starters.
Not your obvious place for a bit of a jog but Norway offers the Marathon of the Midnight Sun which does what it says on the tin. Set off shortly before midnight and the sun keeps on shining as you run. Lying north of the Arctic Circle, Tromso offers something for everyone at all fitness levels. Take a gentle walk around the gentle coastal mountains, kayak in the islets of the Atlantic Ocean, play golf overlooking the soaring Lyngen Alps or simply escape for a few hours’ solitary fishing, the choice is yours. For lovers of culture there’s the intriguingly named Arctic Cathedral, numerous museums and an arctic aquarium where you get to see bearded seals up close and personal.
New York Marathon
Three of the five biggest marathons in the world are in the US and New York is the biggest one of them all. Did you really need an excuse to fly out to the Big Apple? Watched by two million on the street and over 300 million on television, this marathon starts out at Staten Island taking in all the boroughs of New York. Never mind the run, think of the sights, from the Empire State Building, the enigmatic spiral of the Guggenheim Museum, the Statue of Liberty, downtown Manhattan, Times Square and the shopping districts. Need we say more? What’s more, you have until November to get fit and plan that shopping spree, just in time for Christmas.
Sand Marathon, Morocco (Marathon des Sables)
Not for the fainthearted, this marathon takes place in the Sahara desert over seven days and encompasses 240 km of sand dunes and rugged, blistering terrain. In temperatures of 38 to 40 Celsius, iron willed fitness addicts run through the day and recuperate in tents through the night. Surely they have that the wrong way around?! If you prefer, you can cross the desert in a more leisurely fashion on a camel trek. If it’s culture you’re after, you can visit the Merenid tombs and Royal Palace of the enigmatic city of Fez (Fes Al Bali), the backpacker’s favourite of Essaouira (once popular with Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley) or the noisy city of Marrakech.
Boston Marathon, US
It’s back to the US for the oldest marathon in the world and if you hurry you might catch it this year. As an alternative to running, try climbing the 294 steps of the Boston monument; the views from the top are stunning. You can also take in the Museum of Fine Arts, the Massachusetts State House, tour the USS Constitution Museum or take a political tour along the JFK trail. At the end of it all, treat yourself to a good old American beer at the Samuel Adams Brewery. You’ll need it.
Honolulu Marathon, Hawaii
It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it! It may come as a surprise to learn that the Honolulu marathon is one of the top ten biggest marathons in the world. The sprawling city that is Honolulu encompasses the legendary Pearl Harbour and Waikiki with its idyllic beaches perfect for surfers. The marathon itself is more of a festival with events lasting a week. Each runner is adorned with a shell lei (think Hawaii 5-0!) on completing the course. It might take place in December but be warned, it is hot. Fitness addict or not, you may prefer to sample some of the beaches, admire the surfers and wave to the runners as they pass by. One of the bonuses that comes through getting fit running is it opens up a whole new world of single holidays and opportunities to meet lots of new friends.
All that talk of keeping fit is bringing me out in a hot sweat. If you’re unlikely to don any running gear in the foreseeable future, there are plenty of excuses to tour the world in pursuit of the inspiration to get fit. In the meantime, I’ll stick to the bacon sarnies.
Kate Smedley enjoys activity holidays as long as they’re not too strenuous.