The Ultimate Marathon Bucket List – In Pictures


The marathon itself is part of a bucket list for thousands of people who hear of or see the events personally or through media. There’s something massively exciting and intimidating about being a part an event where hundreds of people have the same goal which is to finish and finish well.

After running in a marathon, the usual reaction is to look for another event to aspire for so here are some awe-inspiring, one-of-a-kind experiences/adventures that’s on all experienced runners ‘ bucket list – and it could also be part of your ultimate to-do marathon adventure list as well once you see just how spectacular the world can be from the ground level a runner passes through.

Big Sur Marathon

Big Sur marathon

Big Sur Marathon 2015

This marathon held annually in California has been described by professional runners as a “must-do” as one of top 3 marathons in North America.  This year several changes have been made because of the immense demand for slots last 2014 when all slots were filled after just 59 minutes. This year, almost 90% of the races are closed for online entries and the only ways to participate are through lottery or by supporting a charity.

This year will be the 30th time the marathon will be held. Expected to join are 4,500 runners who are required to finish the race in 6 hours from Big Sur to Carmel. The course is on the beautiful, flat 26.1 km Highway 1 that runs beside the coast. The view is stunning and breathtaking and every finisher within the timed 6 hour period gets a certificate, medallion, and will be officially included in the marathon’s results book.

The Athens Classic Marathon

The Athen Classic Marathon

This is the original route of the first marathon and was the same course used during the 2004 Olympics. It covers steep hills, flat lands and an overwhelming sense of history. Be ready to run for 8 hours under the scorching sun. Aside from the marathon, there are 5km, 10 km, power walking, and kids races.

The event is held in honor of Greek politician, doctor, and athlete, Grigoris Lambrakis who walked from Marathon to Athens in defense of peace. The entry fee is around 90 Euros and will be held on November 8.

The Comrades Marathon

The Comrades marathon

The Comrades Marathon is one of the oldest ultramarathons in the world. It started on May 1921 in South Africa and covers 89 km from Kwazulu-Natal to Durban.  Since 1988, an average of 10,000 participants finish the race from an annual total of 18,000 entries.  Runners have to finish the race after 12 hours and there are cut-off points for those who want to stop. Every finisher gets a permanent yellow number for future races and those who finish 10 races get a permanent green number so everyone can see who has been through the race and finished.

The Comrades Marathon is named after South African soldiers killed in the war. The first time it was held only 34 people joined and of the 34, only 16 finished. The biggest threats to finishing this race are cramps, diarrhea, pain, fatigue, and nausea. Up to 2007, 7 participants have died. This year the ultramarathon will be on May 31.

Pikes Peak Marathon

Pikes Peak marathon

On August 16 the Pikes Peak Marathon will take place.  Registration starts on March 16 and this year will be its 60th anniversary.  Not anyone can sign up for the marathon because there are prerequisites such as participation at least three times in other previous Peak events and finishing! Even the “pole position” of the runners on the starting line will depend on qualifying times.

The reason this event is a bucket-worthy marathon is the intense  and challenging course to the Pikes Peak Summit which has an elevation of 14,115’ although the maximum elevation runners will experience is 13,300’. More interesting is the course terrain that starts as asphalt and turns into dirt road or narrow trails after 1.45 miles from the starting line. It gets worse with an average uphill grade of 11% which means almost throughout the course, you are running either uphill or downhill. Top everything  with Pikes Peak’s unpredictable weather and you’ve got a major adventure to conquer.

The Loch Ness Marathon

Loch Ness Marathon

If you have been fascinated with stories of the Loch Ness Monster, you should add this marathon to your bucket list. The race has a spectacular view with fresh air as you run through the south-eastern portions of Loch Ness in Scotland. It is also the biggest marathon event in Scotland. Aside from the marathon, they have the 10k, 5k Fun Run, 10K Corporate Run, and the Wee Nessie for children.

This year, it will be held on September 27 and registration is done online. The course is friendly, picturesque, and has a relaxed mode with a hot meal for finishers and entertainment after the event.

The Great Wall of China Marathon

The great wall of china marathon

It takes 5,164 steps and a few hills to run the Great Wall Marathon. As far as marathon bucket lists are concerned, this could be one of the toughest you could ever join. Not only are you in a country where English is not spoken, you are running up and down steps. It’s like an everlasting step ladder drill which is why when the race starts, the participants are like one mammoth group running together but as the race progresses, you start to see spaces and distances as many start to lag behind and crawl because of the arduous route including the final “Goat Track” which is a steep 700 meter long distance to the finish line.

This year, the Great Wall marathon takes place on May 16 and will offer marathon, half-marathon, and a 8.5k Fun Run.

The Mount Everest Marathon

Run Everest in the tallest marathon

The Everest marathon

Known as the highest marathon event in the world, it’s also all downhill! The Mount Everest Marathon is challenging because even just getting to the starting point is an adventure and an expedition. It will take place on May 29 of this year and requires participants to climb to the Everest Base Camp where the race starts at over 17,500 feet. It ends at the Namche Bazaar which is around 11,300 feet, a distance of 26.2 miles.

The highest level of the run is at 18,200 feet from the summit. Participants have to be registered on site 3 weeks before the event in order to get acclimatized to running at high altitudes. The course is tough, brutal, cold with 2 main steep uphill sections. There are 4 ways to participate: full marathon, half marathon, non-runner, and join at base camp. Another hurdle is that only 75 slots are opened for non-Nepalese participants. The race is only held every 2 years and is non-profit with proceeds going to health and nutrition projects in Nepal.

The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc 

Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc

Ready to run 166 kilometers through France, Italy, and Switzerland? The Ultra Trail Mont Blanc may be considered the quintessential marathon event because it covers 30,000 feet of climbing, an average of 35 hours run time, more than 2,000 starters, 50 check points, scenic views, sudden twists and turns, eye-popping descents, and excruciating maneuvering around big boulders. Being a part of this marathon will challenge even the toughest runners who can only rely on internal resolve and the hearty cheers of villagers but being able to finish brings indescribable happiness and satisfaction.

Ultra trail Mont Blanc marathon

There is no prize money yet the number of participants wishing to join continues to grow so after 2005, organizers decided to establish a point system for qualifiers. In 2008, it took only 7 minutes to fill up all the slots which opened 5 months before the event!  This year, the event takes place on August 24 to 30 and registration started last December 17. Two of the requirements to qualify is that you must be a team of 2 or 3 and one member must have finished the race at least once in the past events.

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