10 Scenic Marathons And Races In Asia Worth Travelling For
- Tata Mumbai MarathonTata Mumbai Marathon
- Kyoto MarathonKyoto Marathon
- Bhutan International MarathonBhutan International Marathon
- Pyongyang MarathonPyongyang Marathon
- Borneo International MarathonBorneo International Marathon
- Jeju International Tourism MarathonJeju International Tourism Marathon
- Australian Outback MarathonAustralian Outback Marathon
- Gobi MarchGobi March
- The Himalayan CrossingThe Himalayan Crossing
- Halong Bay Heritage MarathonHalong Bay Heritage Marathon
It doesn't hurt to let yourself get distracted by stunning scenery when the finish line feels far away. Here are 10 top destination marathons to start gearing up for:
Tata Mumbai Marathon
Date: January 20, 2019
As the largest marathon in Asia, Tata Mumbai Marathon should be at the top any serious runner’s list. For the 2019 edition, a total of 46,000 running places will be available across six different categories: “Champions with Disability” (2.4km), “Senior Citizens Race” (4.3km), “Dream Run” (6km), “Open 10K Run”, half marathon and full marathon.
The route takes runner through the most iconic locations of Mumbai, including Flora Fountain, Marine Drive, Chowpatty Beach, Haji Ali Dargah, St. Michael's Church, and the Bandra-Worli Sea link.
Date: February 17, 2019
The Kyoto Marathon is an eco event that incorporates green initiatives such as carbon offsetting, tap water stations and paper printouts reduction throughout the race.
Your only option is a full marathon course that starts at Nishikyogoku Athletic Park and finishes near Heian-jingu Shrine. But with seven UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites and spectacular views of the five surrounding mountains to take in as you wheeze and sweat, you’re past the finish line before you know it.
Bhutan International Marathon
Date: March 2, 2019
The mysterious Kingdom of Bhutan boasts otherworldly beauty that deserves a spot on any marathoner’s bucket list.
With half and full marathon options, this Bhutanese excursion brings you through rural Punakha Valley, the Khamsum Yulley Temple, monasteries, rice paddies, rain forest, villages, before reaching the the historic Punakha Dzong, aka “The Palace of Great Happiness”. What better time to visit the world’s happiest country than now?
Date: April 7, 2019
Drawing an international range of runners, the Pyongyang Marathon offers a rare glimpse into North Korea by running through the streets of its capital, whether you opt for the 5km, 10km, half or full marathon.
If entering North Korea for a marathon sounds compelling to you, be prepared to join an organised tour group as it’s the only way to take part in the race. The route starts and finishes at Kim Il Sung Stadium, before passing through major landmarks, such as Kim Il-sung Square and the newly developed area, Mirae Scientists Street. This is one to run for the bragging rights.
Borneo International Marathon
Date: April 28, 2019
Explore Borneo by running the island’s annual international marathon, with pristine beaches, tropical jungle and waterfront houses as a backdrop.
Held at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo International Marathon offers 10km, half and full marathon distances for nature-loving runners. Starting and finishing at the Likas Stadium, the city circuit highlights the best of Kota Kinabalu, including the scenic road at Jalan Tun Fuad Stephen, City Mosque (aka floating mosque) and Suria Sabah.
Jeju International Tourism Marathon
Date: May 26, 2019
Soak up the incredible coastal views of Jeju as you run along the beach on this volcanic island, where one of the oldest marathons in Korea takes place.
The seaside route starts and finishes at Gimnyeong Beach, and leads you through Jeju’s unique beaches made of black, white, red and grey sands. This means endless shoreline vistas throughout the race, whether it’s the 10km, half or full marathon you’re opting for.
See also: A Food Lover’s Guide to Seoul
Australian Outback Marathon
Date: July 27, 2019
Set in the Outback of Australia (aka “the bush”), which refers to the remote wilderness areas outside the cities, Australian Outback Marathon is one for runners who like to get off the beaten track.
Distances range from 6km and 11km to full marathon and half marathons, and the red earth route takes runners on a journey between Uluru and Kata Tjuta, through unsealed roads, bush trails, tracks and short sand dunes with the majestic Ayers Rock as a backdrop.
Date: July 28, 2019
This unforgettable race in Mongolia is known as “the ultimate test of human endurance”—a 250km ultra-marathon that spans over 7 days.
As part of the 4 Deserts race series (alongside Atacama Crossing in Chile, the Sahara Race in Egypt and The Last Desert in Antarctica), the self-supported endurance event requires racers to carry their own equipment and food, and provides only drinking water and a place in a tent each night.
Racing through a terrain comprised of a mixture of alpine hills, rocky river-beds, dusty tracks, narrow ridge paths, green pastures, sand dunes, salt flats and some river crossings, the competitors will take anywhere from 24 to 70 hours to finish this epic journey.
The Himalayan Crossing
Date: August 14-17, 2019
True to its name, the 338km route criss-crosses through the mountain ranges of The Himalayas, where competitors test their limits with high altitude, rough terrain and extreme temperatures.
The best part is the views—you’ll get a glimpse of the untouched beauty of mountains, pass through Kinnaur and Spiti Valleys, hike over the breathtaking passes of Kunzum and Rohtang, camp by the Chandra Taal lake and end in Asia’s highest village, Komic.
Halong Bay Heritage Marathon
Date: November 24, 2019
There’s nothing quite like running a marathon at an UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you’re rewarded with most magnificent landscape as you make your way to the finish line.
Available in 2km, 10km, half marathon and marathon, the course starts and finishes at the Quang Ninh Museum Library, brings runners across Bai Chay Bridge, the longest single span bridge in Southeast Asia, passing through spots of picturesque mountains, coastlines along the bay and beautiful villages. You’ll be tempted to run with a camera.