At Black Tomato HQ, marathon season usually follows a similar format; a) make secret bets on our colleagues’ finishing times, b) research the best places to settle in for the day and watch the race, c) lust over the other stunning marathon locations across the globe. This year it’s been no different and our research has taken us from the desolate corners of Antarctica to the dizzying heights of Patagonia in search of the best marathon locations on earth. We recommend you run at least on of these legendary marathons in your life…
BEST FOR ATMOSPHERE – LONDON
There’s no place like home, and with over 39,000 entrants each year, the streets on our doorstep have never felt so atmospheric. With a route that incorporates the most eye-catching monuments in what has been voted the world’s best city for tourists, the cityscapes and massing crowds are enough to make even the most battle-hardened endurance fiend feel like it’s their first time.
Where to watch: Get to Gordon Ramsey’s The Narrow early doors to bag a seat in the sublime outdoor area and bask in the East London atmosphere. After catching the competitors, settle in for an idyllic afternoon on the Thames.
Where to recover: If you seek recovery with equal parts food and alcohol, flock to Soho’s Meat Liquor for – you guessed it – equal parts meat and liquor. But if recovery paints a more serene image to you, escape the herd and make your way to Cowshed Primrose Hill for indulgent treatments at this home of luxuriance.
Visit the official site here.
BEST FOR VIEWS – PATAGONIA, CHILE
Not your average 26 miles, The Patagonian International Marathon meanders across a landscapes of reflective lakes, soaring peaks and thunderous waterfalls, making it one of the most most distracting runs on the planet. We love that the Corre y Reforesta Campaign plants a tree for each runner that completes the marathon. This is route is perfect for the awe-seeking, conservationist-savvy runner.
Where to watch: Take a gentle walk to Mirador Nordenskjold for double-take views of the surrounding splendour and a commanding view of the competition.
Where to recover: Explora Patagonia offers full immersion into the surrounding beauty of Torres del Paine National Park. But perhaps more appealingly, the hotel boasts a bath-house that allows for full rejuvenation amongst outdoor jacuzzis and stunning views of Lago Pehoé.
Feel like getting involved? Enter here.
BEST FOR THE REWARD – NAPA VALLEY
We couldn’t think of a better way to end a marathon than with a crisp glass of Californian wine. But don’t fixate too much on the finish, the winding trails and undulating vineyards make the Napa Valley Marathon a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds.
Where to Watch: For us, it’s St. Helena every time, for the views, atmosphere and resplendent culinary offerings. Show your support for both the marathon and local fare at Harvest Table, where Napa’s finest local ingredients are transformed into some of our favourite Californian dishes.
Where to recover: Hole up in the Calistoga Ranch, where you can rest amongst the vines pre-run and completely indulge afterwards. Pamper yourself at the unique spa and sip perfect pairings overlooking Lake Lommel at the hotel’s mouth-watering Lake-House restaurant.
Learn more about the marathon here.
BEST FOR CULTURE – BARCELONA
Replete with with Spanish passion, stunning city views and the sounds and smells of a Spanish spring, the Barcelona Marathon is a firm favourite in the Black Tomato office. Reward comes in the form of tapas and table-dancing, whilst the race itself passes by some of the city’s most iconic figures. One moment your passing the Camp Nou and by the time you’ve hit your stride, you’ll be awing at Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Cathedral – there are worse ways to spend a Sunday.
Where to watch: It’s hard to go wrong if we’re honest, but we often find ourselves hanging around miles 32-34, where the sea breeze is best and spirits are always high. A short walk to the Gothic Quarter also leads you to Sensi Tapas, one of our favourite eateries in the city.
Where to recover: Settle down in the Mandarin Oriental, where you can admire your challenge from the incredible rooftop bar, dine lavishly in the hotel’s remarkable Michelin starred restaurant and explore the iconic city at a more relaxed pace from your front doorstep.
Start planning for next year here.
BEST FOR BRAGGING RIGHTS – THE ANTARCTIC ICE MARATHON
Usually mustering little more than 50 entrants per year, this marathon isn’t for the faint of heart. As the only footrace within the Antarctic Circle, completing this desolate yet beautiful sporting occasion offers bragging rights, beautiful views and a new perspective on how far your boundaries can be pushed.
Where to Watch: Not the most forgiving for the spectator, chances are that you’ll be following this race via twitter rather than the sideline.
Where to recover: We can set up a unique camp that offers (almost) all the comforts of home, ensuring that you’re well after taking part in this legendary yet little-known event.
Think you can handle it? Read more here.
BEST FOR A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE – THE GREAT WALL MARATHON
With quadricep busting inclines and far from amiable weather patterns, this marathon is one of the world’s toughest. Look past these hurdles and you’ll find yourself traversing one of the most unique routes on earth. Surrounded by quaint local villages and the legendary steps themselves (5,164 to be precise), this is a run you won’t forget in a hurry.
Where to watch: Yin and Yang square marks the start, middle and end point of the race, making it the perfect place to hunker down for the long haul and watch the race unfold.
Where to recover: The opulence and tranquillity of the Peninsula Beijing is the perfect place to recover from the adrenaline of this unique route. Opt for a suite to take full advantage the huge marble baths. After recovering, we’ll whisk you off to a part of the wall less-travelled, where a local guide will offer up his knowledge of this legendary landmark.
Sound like your kind of race? Enter here.