Activities & Adventure 5 MINS READ

The 5 Most Exotic Marathons Around the World

The 5 Most Exotic Marathons Around the World

Activities & Adventure 5 MINS READ
best marathons around the world in 2021

Are you a running addict that has always dreamed of participating in a marathon in an exciting new destination? If so, this post is perfect for you. There are several iconic running marathons around the world, such as the Boston Marathon, the Berlin Marathon, and the London Marathon. And, if you’re an avid runner, these might be already on your bucket list. Aside from top big city competitions, there are also long-distance trails for the craziest and toughest runners who want to get out of their comfort zones and dose up on some adrenaline while achieving new goals. So why not try something different and get yourself ready for an incredibly exotic run?

From runs that finish at Macchu Picchu to trails on the Antarctic, here are the 5 most exotic marathons around the world.

Note: Make sure to double-check COVID 19 precautions, protocols, and operating hours before you visit any of these sites.

Exotic Marathons for your Running Bucket-List

 1. The Great Wall Marathon (15 May 2021)

Woman running the Great Wall Marathon, in China.

A few things could be more exciting than running a marathon that takes place at one of the new 7 Wonders of The World. Known as one of the most challenging runs there is, the Great Wall Marathon started in 1999 and now it counts with the participation of approximately 2,500 runners from across the globe.

This is an extremely tough race, as it crosses the 5,164 steps of the Great Wall of China, one of the most famous constructions in the globe. The marathon offers three distances: a full marathon, a half marathon, and an 8.5km Fun Run, which is a non-competitive run. This means that all levels of experience can enjoy the ancient beauty of the Great Wall, and marvel at the sweeping views of China’s provinces.

All three marathons start and finish in Yin & Yang Square, which is located at the fortress of the Huanyaguang section of the Great Wall in Tianjin province.

Tip: get ready to endure the humidity and heat of the area, which are the most challenging conditions you will face.

Find Hotels in Tanjin, China

2. Midnight sun Marathon (19 June 2021)

Woman running towars a snowy mountain range.

The Midnight Sun Marathon takes place Tromsø, in a city in northern Norway, and provides runners with the amazing experience of running in the middle of the night but with the sun still shining. How? Because of a phenomenon called Midnight Sun, which happens during the summer months in certain places north of the Arctic Circle or south of the Antarctic Circle. The sun does not set below the horizon within a 24 hour period and basically remains visible at the local midnight.

Approximately 6000 runners participate in the Tromsø Midnight Run every year, and there are several different distances for you to choose from: the Marathon, Mizuno Half Marathon, Coop Mila (10k), MSM Mini Marathon (4,2k), and Kids marathon (800m).


You’ll certainly have to deal with low temperatures and few crossings of the grueling Bridge of Tromsø, but this memorable experience will be worth it.

Find Hotels in Tromsø, Norway

3. Inca Trail Marathon (2022)

View of Macchu Picchu, in Peru.

Rated as the toughest Marathon on the planet, the Inca Trail Marathon can not be completed in a single day or two. With over 10,000′ of elevation gain, two high passes, and several steps, this extraneous run begins in Cusco at an altitude of 11,150 feet, on the ancient Inca trail that leads to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail Marathon is a little-known race since started in 2012, but it has been gradually increasing in the number of participants.


For this run, it is necessary that you are an expert runner, as the marathon is described as “A Marathon in distance but an ultra in effort”. But, after a challenging journey, you’ll be rewarded with two things: the feeling of completing the world’s most difficult marathon, and a stunning view of the Macchu Picchu on the finishing line.

Find Hotels in Cusco, Peru

4. Antarctic Ice Marathons 2020 (15-16 May 2021)

Two people during an expetition in Antarctic.

If you are into extreme experiences that make you push the limits, this marathon is for you. Suitable for adventure marathoners and ultra athletes, the Antarctic Ice Marathon takes place in mainland Antarctica, and it’s run over the 42.195km (26.2 miles) marathon distance. There is also an option to run a half marathon, the Frozen Continent Half Marathon.

During the marathon, runners will be crossing the ice in the very low temperatures of the Antarctic. That is why it is impossible to establish an average finish time since the weather conditions and terrain are variable from one year to the next. To give you an idea: The men’s event record of 3: 34.47 was set by Petr Vabrousek (CZE) in 2013, while the women’s event record of 4: 20.02 was set by Fiona Oakes (GBR) in 2013.


In 2021, the Antarctic Ice Marathon is scheduled to take place at 80 Degrees South, which is located just a few hundred miles from the South Pole at the foot of the Ellsworth Mountains.

5. Great Ocean Road Marathon (16th – 17th May 2020)

Aerial view of the Great Ocean Road, in Australia.

This race takes place in one of the most iconic routes of Australia: the Great Ocean Road. With scenic views of the blue ocean, this challenging marathon is run over 44km from Lorne to Apollo Bay along the Victorian coastal route

The Great Ocean Road Marathon is extraneous, as the point-to-point course is winding, and long. Aside from the classic marathon, and half marathon, there’s also the 60 km ultra-marathon, which provides runners with a physical and mental challenge.

After the run, why not take some well-deserved rest time and take a road trip along the Great Ocean Road? You can even extend your stay, and go explore the most charming hidden cities in Australia.

Find Hotels in Victoria, Australia

Luckily for you, we have all kinds of accommodation to help you rest and prepare your body and mind for any challenge you have ahead. Take a look at our website and do not forget to pack your sports shoes!

Browse. Book. Stay.

CuddlyNest provides all accommodations to all travelers at the best price. Find unlimited travel inspiration on our blog and social media channels.

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