Time to take your running hobby global. Destination half-marathons are a great way to satisfy your fitness goals and vacation dreams in one shot. From breathtaking topaz beaches to majestic mountaintops to hypnotic desert dunes, now’s your chance to tour the world’s wonders on a single run. When else would you get the chance to blaze through valleys of grape vines in Sonoma country, run in the dark with flashes of the Northern Lights above, or thread the historic Great Wall of China? The run-spiration is endless.
So spin the globe, pack your bags and get your passports ready. Here are some of the world’s most popular destination half-marathons to add to your bucket list (listed according to date).
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15 Amazing Destination Half-Marathons in the World
1. Polar Night Half-Marathon
Location: Tromso, Norway
Date: January 7, 2017
Add this one to your “MUST GO NOW” Pinterest board. Situated above the Polar Circle, Tromso has become the ultimate destination for runners to see the Northern Lights. Although the race starts in the afternoon, it will be pitch black. The island experiences 24 hours of darkness during this time of year (hence the name of the race). So instead of the sun, you’ll see the moon rising — and if you’re lucky, the aurora borealis (Northern Lights). And if that’s not enough twinkle, the course is lit with burning torches to guide you. You might even see some reindeer or snow dogs sledding, too.
2. Bermuda Half-Marathon
Location: Hamilton, Bermuda
Date: January 15, 2017
If you’re looking for the ultimate winter runcation, the Bermuda half-marathon is a great escape. Runners will get the real island experience as they catch the changing turquoise shades of the ocean, pinkish sand and the pastel-colored houses and buildings on the course. Your options include: the Front Street Mile, 10K, half-marathon or full marathon. If you do all three major races in three days (the 10K, half-marathon and marathon), you’ll complete the Bermuda Triangle Challenge and receive a special medal!
3. Kilimanjaro Half-Marathon
Location: Moshi, Tanzania
Date: February 26, 2017
In Tanzania, you’ll conquer two fitness goals in one: reach the highest mountain in Africa and run 13.1. What more could you ask for? Although you’ll be running at high altitude (2,000 to 3,000 feet), the course is mostly flat and out and back, so you know what to expect after the first round. The running route passes through farms and banana and coffee plantations. Starting at Moshi stadium, you’ll head towards town and then hit an uphill route to Mweka before turning around back to the stadium, where local bands and celebratory crowds await.
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4. Jerusalem Half-Marathon
Location: Jerusalem, Israel
Date: March 13, 2017
It doesn’t get any holier than this. Drawing runners from different parts of the world and of different faiths, the race is a tour of historic religious sites, like Mount Scopus, David’s Tower and Haas Promenade. The hilly terrain and slopes along the course will also deliver a panoramic view of the city. Be sure to clear your calendar the night before: All participants are invited to a free pasta dinner, where you’ll get to meet other runners and enjoy cultural entertainment.
5. Tahiti-Moorea Half-Marathon
Location: Temae Beach, Moorea
Date: March 25, 2017
The white sand Temae beach on Moorea Island is where you begin the race, which starts at (eep!) 5 a.m. But we promise getting up early to beat the heat and watch the sunrise over the turquoise waters will be worth it. Throughout your run, you’ll be entertained by indigenous dances rooted in French Polynesian culture. The tropical, luxurious landscape will make 13.1 go by quickly and satisfy your wanderlust dreams of an island getaway.
6. The Great Wall Half-Marathon
Location: Tianjin Province, China
Date: May 20, 2017
Known as one of the greatest wonders of the world, the Great Wall took more than 20 Chinese dynasties to build. Spanning 13,170.69 miles and 15 provinces and regions, the 13.1 race is just a fraction of the entire wall. The journey starts at the Yin and Yang Square in the fortress of the Huanyaguang section. You’ll traverse asphalt roads, dirt trails, gravel paths, not to mention some jagged steps of the wall. First time racers may want to sit this one out, though. The course features significant ascents and steep descents, including the infamous “Goat Track,” which is a 2,296-foot drop. But if you’re game, blazing through the historic site will earn your ninja status, as onlookers from the local villages and fields cheer you on.
7. La Champenoise Half-Marathon
Location: Champagne Valley, France
Date: May 20, 2017
You don’t need to tell us twice: The Champagne wine region is known for producing the world’s best sparkling wines. Quite possibly the fanciest 13.1 race of the bunch, you’ll get to sip some bubbly at every drink station to keep spirits high. Throughout the course, you’ll hit green pastures with breathtaking views of the French countryside, listen to local musicians playing their hearts out, and marvel at the many racers and spectators in full costume (Marie Antoinette, beer maids and Sponge Bob Square Pants, we’re lookin’ at you!) Just think of all the baguettes, macarons and fromage waiting for you at the finish line.
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8. Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half-Marathon
Location: Cuvaison Carneros Winery in Sonoma, CA
Date: July 16, 2017
Ever wished you could run through a garden as a kid? Consider this the adult version of that, set in Napa Valley, the world’s biggest secret garden. The acres of rolling vineyard hills are known for producing some of the best handcrafted bottles of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Right off the start line, you’ll climb Butt Burner Hill (the name says it all so get those glutes in gear!). Then you’ll cruise down to the Los Carneros wine appellation, which is located north of the San Pablo Bay. The feeling is intoxicating as you run through lush blocks of green and pass local farms filled with horses, cows, pigs, sheep and goats, shepherding you to the finish. Your final reward: Post-race libations straight from wine country you trotted.
9. SeaWheeze Half-Marathon
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Date: August 12, 2017
A weekend full of running, music and sun salutations? Sign us up! This Lululemon-sponsored race is one big wellness party. The fete kicks off with an expo, where runners can get their hair braided or beards trimmed, put on temporary tattoos, relax in a meditation garden and play with aromatherapy kits. Race day is just as unexpected, with runners treated to an hour-long yoga session to help shake out the nerves. Did we mention that participants also get dibs on discounted active wear from Lululemon? Oh Canada, here we come!
10. Petra Desert Half-Marathon
Location: Petra, Jordan
Date: August 26, 2017
There’s no better place to make you feel like you’re Indiana Jones than the ancient city of Petra. Like an archeologist, you’ll traverse through rocky mazes and dusty trails, and uncover ancient tombs and caves. The start line is in the Street of Facades, where you’ll see a row of magnificent Nabataean tombs. The winding roads lead to the riverbed gorge Siq al-Barid, whereas those running the full marathon will circle the hilltop Al Musirh. Buckle up for major uphill climbs across mountain ridges. The course is a true test of endurance and agility for either distance, but the wondrous views will make it one big adventure.
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11. Patagonian International Half-Marathon
Location: Ultima Esperanza, Chile
Date: September 9, 2017
You won’t get a more beautiful trail run than the one in Torres del Paine National Park, the site of Patagonia’s must-race half-marathon. From turquoise lakes to snow-capped Andes mountains and pristine forests, Torres del Paine has some of the most breathtaking views and unique landscapes. Prepare yourself for some major elevation, as you’ll be running through rolling valleys. The good news is that the race takes place during the warmer months, so you won’t have to worry about snowy or frozen terrain.
12. Maui Half-Marathon
Location: Kaanapali, Hawaii
Date: October 15, 2017
As the second largest Hawaiian island, Maui is known for its scenic valleys and 80 beautiful beaches. And there’s no better way to see the island than running along its breathtaking coastline. The start and finish line is at Kaanapali Beach, where there’s crystal clear blue water and white sand. The course takes you to the town of Lahaina, a historic whaling village and hot spot for galleries, shops and restaurants. You might even spot a whale if you stare out into the water long enough!
13. The Other Half Half-Marathon
Location: Moab, Utah
Date: October 15, 2017
If you’ve got a eco-conscious friend or two in your running squad, you’ll want to recruit them for The Other Half, which supports green initiatives that help preserve Moab’s stunning landscape. The race starts at Dewey Bridge on the Colorado River, and the course features the bold, burnt-orange backdrop of the La Sal Mountains. (Seriously, smile for the camera — this might be your most epic race photo yet!) The first seven miles will have you running through gentle slopes (at altitude, mind you). So you’ll want to have plenty in the tank for the middles miles, which get steep and long. You’ll take comfort in the last mile: a fast downhill to Sorrel River Ranch Resort where spirits run high with live tunes, locally brewed beer and familiar faces. If you are running the race for the tenth year in a row, you’ll be eligible to join the Ten Year Club, which offers special perks like guaranteed race entry, discounts and special shout-outs at the awards ceremony.
14. Vegas Rock ‘N’ Roll Half
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: November 12, 2017
It’s probably the only time that the famous Las Vegas Strip is completely shut down. Eleven of the 13.1 miles of the race take place on Las Vegas Boulevard, where you’ll soak in Sin City’s flashing lights and blasting music. Speaking of, all marathon and half-marathon participants will be treated to a free concert before the race with some of the biggest acts, including Mackelmore, Snoop Dogg and Kid Rock. On the course, DJs will be spinning to give you extra motivation mile after mile. If you fear the dry desert heat will get to you, the race starts at 6 p.m. as temps start to chill. The finish is at The Mirage, complete with a celebratory concert and discounts to nightclubs, restaurants and shows.
15. Reggae Half-Marathon
Location: Negril, Jamaica
Date: December 2, 2017
There isn’t a more relaxing place to run 13.1 than the Jamaican island of Negril. This Caribbean adventure will take you on a relatively flat course that loops around the island, running parallel to the famous 7-Mile Beach. Set to the soundtrack of local bands playing authentic reggae tunes, there’s no better way to forget the miles ticking by. Only head’s up: The race starts early (5:15 a.m. to be exact!). But we promise it will be worth it to run with the sunrise and swim in the refreshing beach after crossing the finish line. Plus, there’s plenty of entertainment, jerk chicken, (and jerk everything really!) when it’s time to kick your feet up. Did we mention you’ll feast on a free pasta dinner the night before and sip on coconut water straight out of its source post-race? Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us.