The Great Wall Marathon
Seeing the Great Wall of China is on many people’s “bucket list” of the things to do before they die. For many runners, it’s running at full speed on top of the Great Wall of China that they’d like to accomplish. The Great Wall Marathon is a standard long-distance race along the famous landmark—but just under four miles of the race requires runners to run on the wall. It’s 5,000 stone steps up steep slopes, both uphill and downhill.
Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon
Named for Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary, credited as the first humans to climb Mount Everest, the Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon is held in late May and begins with a hike to the base camp at Everest. And then the race starts: 26 miles of high altitude, thin air, and cold temperatures as runners run over a mountain trail. (They at least don’t have to climb Mount Everest.)
Commemorating the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud is the Hatfield-McCoy Marathon each June in Williamson, West Virginia. About 350 runners compete each year as they run through small towns (where the locals dress up their livestock in clothes for the special occasion) and homesteads, including one owned by a man who stops runners to make them take a picture with what he claims is “the world’s smallest horse. Runners in the race are divided into teams: half are Hatfields, and half are McCoys. Whichever team gets the lowest average finish time “wins.”
E.T. Full Moon Marathon
Running through the desert in August in the day time would be foolhardy, but to do it at midnight is safe and fun for the 100 or so competitors in the E.T. Full Moon Marathon. Runners move along on the Extraterrestrial Highway near the legendary Area 51 in the New Mexico desert where the government supposedly studies aliens and UFOs. Many runners compete while wearing alien costumes, and it’s followed by a free breakfast buffet.
North Pole Marathon
Maybe you’ll get warm running this race, because otherwise you’re going to be call if you did this one. The North Pole Marathon is held in April, which is technically spring at the North Pole, but the temperatures are still well below 0 degrees. Less than 50 people even attempt the race each year (and most don’t finish), which includes ice floes, frigid water, snow…and polar bears.