Whenever a marathon is organised, the city witnesses a good turnout of runners, who enthusiastically participate in the event. But there are a few who like going the extra mile, quite literally. A new trend, ‘run-cation’, under which people plan their vacations around marathons outside the cities they live in, is gradually making a mark in the tourism sector. We speak to a few of such people for whom marathons turn into full-fledged vacations, around the globe.
The Berlin Marathon and The Prague Marathon
German capital Berlin’s architecture is what drew Kiran Kapadia, 54, an architect, to run the Berlin Marathon in September 2012. “The 42km marathon begins from the historic Brandenburg Gate, and you run past all the cultural hubs and historic points in the city, like the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie,” says Kapadia. He also ran the Prague Marathon in 2011. “The route nearly covers the entire city and its tourist attractions,” he says. To make the most of this visit, Kapadia turned his marathon tour into a family vacation, and visited countries like Austria and Hungary. He also ran the Chicago Marathon this year. “Chicago is known as the birthplace of modern architecture. I was thrilled to run this marathon,” he says.
The New York City Marathon and The Comrades Ultra Marathon
Intrigued by different cultures and cuisines, Sushant Karkera, 43, a businessman, decided to run a 42km marathon in New York, in 2014. “Running a marathon here is an experience like no other. You end up running along the entire city,” says Karkera. He passed tourist attractions like The Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, Queensbridge, and Manhattan. “There’s no better way to discover a city,” he says. In 2015, Karkera also ran the Comrades Ultra Marathon, an 89km run between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. “This is probably the toughest marathon, because you need to reach the designated points within a stipulated period of time, otherwise you’re asked to stop. The green pastures and the scenic landscape keep you from getting tired,” he says. On completion of the marathon, Karkera toured the Table Mountain, The Cape Of Good Hope, and visited a few museums in South Africa.
The Paris Marathon
“I have always chosen to run a marathon according to the destination,” says 31-year-old Ankita Mittal, a businesswoman. She ran the Paris Marathon (France) in 2010, the London Marathon (UK) in 2012, and the New York Marathon in 2014. “Paris has always been a huge attraction for me, and it, therefore, came to be my first marathon abroad. The route covers all the pretty tourist spots, from the Eiffel Tower to The Louvre,” says Mittal, who stayed in the city for a week after the marathon.
The Ladakh Marathon
In 2012, Pervin Batliwala, 61, a former executive secretary of a multinational company, ran the Ladakh Half Marathon, hoping to discover a new place. “It took us two days to acclimatise to the climate. Once we found ourselves comfortable, we went out and explored the place,” says Batliwala, who visited the Nubra Valley, the Pangong Lake and Khardung La, which is the highest point in Ladakh. “Running a marathon there is a different experience, as the landscape changes every few kilometres,” she says.
Bhavin Gandhi, 40, a travel enthusiast, ran the Tarawera UltraMarathon, a 60km run, held in Rotorua, New Zealand, in February 2015. The non-commercial marathon is limited to about 1,000 runners. “I am not fond of concrete jungles,” says Gandhi, adding, “This marathon was the perfect choice, since we ran through the forest.” Gandhi travelled the country for 21 days after the marathon, and visited the Waitamo Caves in north New Zealand. He also visited Auckland. He even ran in the New York Marathon, US, in November last year, and travelled across the country for almost 40 days, visiting cities like Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.
The Comrades Ultra Marathon: This may be one of the most scenic marathons in the world. There are five cut-off points, and if a marathoner doesn’t reach within the stipulated time, he or she will be disqualified.
When: May 29, 2016
The New York City Marathon: The route covers all the five boroughs — Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. Due to the inclines and declines, it is regarded as one of the toughest marathons.
When: November 1, 2015
The Tarawera UltraMarathon: This trail run is more for adventure lovers, since the route involves running through forest roads, farmlands, and native forests. One can choose to run 60, 85 and 100km.
When: February 6, 2016
The Singapore Marathon: This marathon is considered to be a lot like the Mumbai Marathon, since the weather is very humid.
When: December 6, 2015
The London Marathon: The marathon’s route is pretty flat, but the weather is unpredictable. It’s also not easy to secure a spot, since it is done through the ballot system.
When: April 24, 2016
The Boston Marathon: Gaining entry into this marathon is very difficult. Also, you can participate in this only if you have completed a 42km run within a certain stipulated time.
When: April 18, 2016
The Chicago Marathon: The course begins at Grant Park and runs into Streeterville, Lakeview East, and the Lincoln Park. It is considered an easy marathon because of its flat course.
When: To be announced
The Berlin Marathon: This marathon is considered the fastest and flattest marathon in the world. There are a lot of beautiful sights to take in as one runs past the historically rich buildings and museums.
When: September 25, 2016
The Tokyo Marathon: One doesn’t tend to burn out while running The Tokyo Marathon, since it is generally supported by good weather.
When: February 28, 2016