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Desi Rottman is a contributing writer to The Hudsucker. By day, she now works in the sports & entertainment industry, and by night she's an avid runner, Pinterest addict and music enthusiast. Desi grew up in the Mitten state before moving south to warmer weather.

8 of the Best Destination Races From Around the World

Every year, more and more people are lacing up their running shoes and hitting the road. From 5k races to full marathons, the number of runners have been growing over the past few years. With the explosion of new runners joining the field, many new races have cropped up all over the world — and some of them are enough to make a non-runner reconsider! Here’s a look at eight of the best destination races all over the world.

Rock ‘N Roll Marathon Series Las Vegas

The Rock ‘N Roll series has events all over the world, and with headline concert performers including Gavin DeGraw, The Band Perry, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and Pitbull, it’s enough to check out one of their races for the finish line party. Las Vegas’ edition is always one of the most popular. A night run, their “#StripAtNight” course takes you past the city’s most famous landmarks: from the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign to the Venetian and MGM, you’ll have the run of one of the world’s most popular destinations. These races are also unique in that every mile, they have a stage with a local band playing, which is a great way to fight off boredom and give you something to look forward to to mark the miles. And since it’s a night race, you’ll avoid the early morning alarm clock and oppressive desert heat! (Well, some of it, anyway.)

Gasparilla Distance Classic

Tampa Bay’s race weekend is a bucket list for many reasons. They offer a variety of races and challenges from a 5K to a half-marathon, as well as team challenges. For the ultra-adventurous, join one of the challenges to cover over 30 miles of gorgeous Florida beach and island views over the two day event. What makes this race bucket-worthy? The bling! Everything in this race is pirate themed, right down to the medals and “Run For the Booty” jackets (for challenge finishers.)

Reggae Marathon

Great music, great people, and beautiful views in a tropical location? What more could make you want to run 13.1 miles (or more)? Jamaica’s Reggae Marathon series is very friendly for new runners, even linking to run and walk training programs for the 10K and half marathon distances on their website. The flat course makes it smooth sailing for newbies too! Since it’s a bit far out of the more popular tourist spots in Jamaica, race organizers will even coordinate a shuttle for you on race day to get to the starting line. Talk about hospitality! The pre-race pasta dinner and post-race celebrations are not to be missed either, touted as the world’s best.

Polar Night Halfmarathon

 If you’ve dreamed of visiting Scandinavia, work your vacation around this beautiful race. Another night series, this half-marathon, 10K and 5K take place in January, so pack your warmest wool! With a route through Tromsø, Norway, you might even get to see the Northern Lights overhead as you race — and depending on weather, kilometers will be marked with burning torches. Water stations are located every 5 kilometers as well, so you’ll always know how far along the course you are. Join your fellow runners for the Polarnight dinner after the award ceremony to recover and warm up!

Photo credit: Truls Tiller

Destination Napa to Sonoma

 A point-to-point race (which means it doesn’t start at the same place it finishes,) this is a wine lover’s dream. Start at one winery in Napa and run through vineyards and gorgeous rolling hills to another, where you’ll enjoy a tasting and more. The course features ten aid stations and even a band just past the halfway point, which helps to break up the race if you need something to look forward to! This popular race sells out early every year, so be sure and get it on your radar early so you don’t miss out.

Maui Marathon

Who doesn’t want to go to Hawaii? The Maui Marathon (which also offers a half-marathon, 10K and 5K) is arguably one of America’s most beautiful races. Running along the coast of Maui, the largest island in Hawaii, you might even spot some whales out in the ocean. Hawaii offers the best post-race recovery possible – just jump right in the ocean, or book a scuba session for some active recovery!

Ragnar Relay Niagara

A bit different than the other races on this list, this relay requires cooperation from some of your friends. Grab six to twelve of your buddies and head out for this road relay around Niagara Falls. The race is 24 hours until you finish, so be prepared to run at night if that’s when your leg comes up! It’s a great way to experience and view one of the prettiest waterfalls in Canada, with plenty of fun sights to check out once you’re finished.


Petra Desert Half-Marathon

If a cold race like the Polar Nightmarathon isn’t your speed, maybe a run through the desert sounds nice. Started in 2009, the Petra Desert Half-Marathon in Jordan passes through the UNESCO-protected site and one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World.” For the truly hardcore, they do offer a full marathon as well. Train carefully for this one and be sure to stay hydrated — they offer water and aid stations every 4 kilometers, and maybe you’ll even meet a friendly camel out on the course, and follow your race with a soak in the Dead Sea.

Photo credit: Albatros Adventure Marathons

What are some destination races you’re inspired to check out or have ran? Let us know in the comments below.

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One Comment on “8 of the Best Destination Races From Around the World”

  1. amanda -runtothefinish July 25, 2017 at 1:19 pm #

    I did Honolulu and it was really pretty, bur for anyone not used to heat and humidity it was a long race day. Man so many places to run!

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