To a runner, there’s no better way to see the world — and experience the great outdoors — than time spent laced up in running shoes. Running can be transportation, a way to tour a new city, time to relax in nature, a new physical challenge and so much more.
All these great reasons to run are why road racing (running on a paved surface) has dramatically increased in popularity in recent years. In the U.S. alone in 2013, more than 1,100 marathon-distance races (26.2 miles) saw more than 541,000 finishers, according the Running U.S.A. — a record high.
Of course, road racing isn’t limited to the continental United States. Marathons are run on all seven continents (yes, including Antarctica), in Siberia, under the midnight sun of Norway and across the greatest cities in the world.
Runners are notorious for planning their seasonal “goal” races months or even years in advance, whether they aim to trot through a Thanksgiving 5K or chase an elusive Boston Marathon qualifying time.
It’s no wonder, then, that so many have dream “bucket list” races on their mind. After all, there are hundreds of incredible races around the world.
In the U.S., a top race for these road-running dreamers is the Big Sur Marathon, held every spring (next on April 26, 2015) along the stunning California coast. It has a reputation for being one of the most beautiful marathons in the world — one reason why entries sell out in less than an hour. As running legend and Runner’s World Chief Running Officer Bart Yasso said, “If we were told we could only run one marathon in our lifetime, Big Sur would have to be it.”
Racing along the marathon’s original route — from Marathon, Greece, to Athens — is a must-do for many runners. Legend has it the Greek solider Pheidippides made the trek in 490 B.C. to deliver a message of battlefield victory to the Athenian government. (Unfortunately, he died at the end, the legend goes.)
In the original story, Pheidippides runs about 24.85 miles — the distance was not raised to 26.2 miles until the 1908 London Olympics, when the course was extended to finish in front of the royal family’s spectating box at Windsor Castle.
Modern racers — though they must run a longer distance — have it a little easier than Pheidippides did; the race is entirely on asphalt with only a few “gentle” hills and plenty of water stations, according to race organizers. The race finishes in Athens’ Olympic stadium. The modern version of this marathon is in its 32nd year.
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source: Weather Ventures by Annie Hauser