There are a million reasons why people travel.
Some go for food, others go for culture, and many simply seek out warmer weather and relaxation. But a passtionate group of extreme athletes travels the world for a completely different reason. Oftentimes, the weather is colder than home, and the planned activity is one known to exhaust the body and mind.
These brave souls travel for marathons…and they can’t get enough.
I recently made the trek to Oz to participate in the Australian Outback Marathon. I use the word “participate” lightly, as I signed up to run the 11K. See, like most, I have a bucket list goal of completing one marathon…in my lifetime…when the time is right…and the conditions are perfect. This was not that time.
Michelle on her way to completing a marathon on every continent. (Photo: Australian Outback Marathon)
Still, running in the red dirt with majestic Uluru in the foreground was exciting and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
As I started to chat up other runners, I met Michelle, an energetic mother of six who runs marathons like I pop Skittles. In fact, she has run marathons in all 50 states plus DC in under four hours.
For her birthday in 2012, Michelle’s husband booked her a marathon adventure trip which included running two marathons on two continents within five days. After she completed the runs, Michelle was hooked, and knew that that one day she would complete runs on all seven continents. Australia was her final hump to complete that goal.
“Australia has always been a bucket list destination for me. I intentionally saved this continent as my last,” she told Yahoo Travel. “My desert run in the Outback became my dessert —the reward for the hard work I put into making the logistical and physical commitment to complete marathons on each of the seven continents.”
And Michelle isn’t alone.
Tony makes running a marathon look easy. (Photo: Australian Outback Marathon)
Tony Copeland-Parker is a 60 year-old man who has run marathons all over the world. As a pilot, he spent most of his career traveling the globe, but last year he retired, and in December, he and his wife decided on embark on a new journey.
“When we retired I thought it would be a good idea to couple our love to travel and love to run Marathons together,” Parker told Yahoo Travel.
In February, he ran a marathon in Tokyo and then spent some time exploring Malaysia, Singapore, and Bangkok before meeting up with a group called Marathon Tours in Rome.
In May, he did a Half marathon at the Great Wall of China and then traveled to Copenhagen to run a marathon a week later.
Last July he ran and completed the Australian outback marathon, and in September, Tony will complete his 60th marathon in Bordeaux, France. By years end he will run a half marathon in Brussels, the Dublin Marathon in October, and another marathon in Istanbul, Turkey.
Oh, and if that doesn’t sound exhausting, he has a full international marathon itinerary planned for 2016.
“We’ve been at this for 262 days,” says Parker. “We’re nomads, and plan on continuing for the next 5-7 years.”
Marathon runners in Petra. (Photo: Travelling Fit)
Chances are you’ve met someone like Tony or Michelle, and as the community of marathon travelers continues to grow, there are several organizations connecting runners to different races around the world.
Travelling Fit is composed of Marathon Travel Specialists who helps athletes run around the world, literally.
Many members of their staff are runners themselves, so they know what to look for and how to help participants get the most out of an experience.
“We exist to take all of the hard work and guess work out of planning a trip to a national or international event,” said Brand Development Manager Michael Walton. “We source hotels, work out transfer options and, of course, guarantee the race entries for all the events we promote.”
Runners at the start of the Maasai marathon in Kenya. (Photo: Marathon Tours and Travel)
The Australian based company organized the Outback Marathon, but also organizes trips to races on every other continent. “We have a huge demand for entries to the Virgin Money London Marathon…and events in Tokyo and Boston,” said Walton.
Another popular option is Marathon Tours & Travel, a U.S. based company that was the first in the world to specialize in travel services. Some of their featured races include trips to Berlin, Myanmar, Easter Island and The Great Wall of China.
As a newbie to the group, I was immediately struck by the sense of community in the room. After all, everyone had the same interest, so there was always something to talk about.
For Michelle, running is about achieving personal goals while also building a long lasting community. “We want to see the world, experience different cultures, and make new friends as we check off marathon goals,” said Michelle. “The camaraderie that I have discovered in the running world has changed my life.”
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source: Yahoo Travel by Brittany Jones Cooper