Committed marathon runners often think about trading in their local route for one of the many breathtaking and unique locations around the globe. Yet, seeing the world while taking on marathons is a trend only few can afford. Now, more than ever before, runners all over the globe can find a marathon nearly anywhere. Obviously, some destinations are more enticing, adventurous and exotic than others and today, we’re going to show you some of the most expensive.
If given the choice, and affordability is not an issue, these marathons are definitely worth the trip for both novices and trained runners. In addition, a portion of almost every race’s registration fees is funneled to one charity or another, which is an extra-added benefit. In fact, many races began as fundraisers to get the sports-minded, middle class into contributing through event participation.
Over the years, marathons started enticing participants from all walks, locations and financial backgrounds. Yet, as in everything, there will always be the the top-of-the-line experiences that only a slice of the population can afford.
The good news for all marathoners is that the increasing popularity of the sport has caused event planners around the globe to continue to improve the quality of the runs and races. In our review, we have included some of the world’s most popular and most expensive races.
Registration fees can be quite steep when planning to participate in more than one marathon per year. Considering the goal of the serious marathoner is to join the 100 race league, the 3-day destination event can set the average wage-earner back a few month’s mortgage or rent.
Typically, the registration fee includes the entry to the race, post-run festivities, promotional t-shirts and other racing paraphernalia. However, then there are the other costs: hotels, parking or transportation, meals and gear. The not-so-elite can enjoy some of the free goods the vendors bring for the post-race celebrations while the more financially set may choose to head for a massage and a first class meal.
This list will get your running heart fluttering, as you’ll soon see some of the best marathons in the world, although you might have sticker shock. Prices do not include anything but hotels and entry fees.
10. ASICS LA Marathon: $800 for 3-days, Includes $180 Entry
The LA Marathon is one of the largest in the U.S. The course was inspired when Los Angeles sponsored the 1984 Summer Olympic Games. 2014 marks its 29th year and with close to a half-million finishers, it is surprising that over 50 percent of the registered runners are first time marathoners. The “Stadium to the Sea” course starts at Dodger Stadium and finishes up at the Santa Monica Pier. LA is home of the rich and famous, so be sure to reserve a table at one of the many world class restaurants and breeze by a local tourist attraction or two. If you’re already rich and famous, you know where to go, right?
9. Disneyworld Marathon: $990 for 3-days, Includes $190 Entry
While some prefer to run in the Tinkerbell Half Marathon or in Goofy’s Race, one thing is clear; Disneyworld attracts characters from all over the world. Running characters, that is. Although the price of getting into the park is not included in the entry fee, adding a day at Disneyworld is priceless, particularly if you’ve never strolled side-by-side with Cinderella, Captain Hook or gone for a ride with wild Mr. Toad. The marathon’s course goes through and around Disneyworld’s incredible park, so returning the next day is a great follow-up experience. It’s not uncommon to see runners wearing rhinestone-embellished mouse ears.
8. Boston Marathon: $1,000 for 3-days, Includes $190 Entry
The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest and considered one of the most prestigious marathons in the U.S. Going on its 118th year, this race is not for lightweight runners. Entrants must meet standard qualifying times that are determined by age. FYI, times may be verified, so this race is one of the most competitive. It is challenging, yet one that serious marathoners wouldn’t miss. The registration fee is not the highest, however, staying at a nearby five-star hotel will help iron out any of those tight muscles post haste.
7. NYC Marathon: $1,200 for 3-days, Includes $255 Entry
Who doesn’t love a trip to the Big Apple? Have a run, see a play and dine at one of Bobby Flay’s trendy restaurants. The sky is the limit in New York City’s hotel rooms, so when the rich and famous runners come to town, the price is likely to be closer to five times what we have listed. Out-of-town participants are constantly amazed at the sheer numbers that show up for this race. They might also be surprised at the cost of a bagel and cream cheese when looking for a quick carb fix after the race has been completed.
6. Virgin Money London Marathon: $1,600 for 3-nights, fee Includes Entry
The London Marathon always draws a large crowd. In fact, in 2012, there were over 36,500 runners who finished the race, which made it the largest in that year. One of the top five international marathons, it has a relatively flat course around the Thames River. If planning to run this race, find a hotel near one of the three starting points: Greenwich Park (Charlton Way), St. John’s Park and Shooter’s Hill Road. This has been the same course forever, with a few finish line changes, and now ends at The Mall. Spectators will be able to spot charity runners as they are apt to dress in fancy clothing to stand out.
5. Marathon de Mont Saint-Michel: $1,800 for 3-nights, Includes $69 Entry
One of the only races in the world where runners can see the finish line during the entire course which runs from Cancale (Brittany) to the famous island village of Normandy’s Mont St-Michel. The views are spectacular and are enough to inspire any marathoner. Staying at the local Relais & Chateaux will make this sports excursion a first-class vacation replete with some of the finest seafood and best views around imaginable.
4. Great Wall Marathon: $1,900 for 3-days, Includes $74 Entry
Set in Tianjin Province, China, the Great Wall Marathon starts off with an up and down around the rocky surface of the wall. A challenging beginning that is said to ease up while winding through nearby villages and rice fields in the second half. It’s an adventure that can’t be found elsewhere else. It has the edginess of an extreme sport and the reality of knowing it will take about 50 percent longer to complete this race. The route starts at a village outside of Beijing (Huangyaguan) and moves directly to the Great Wall where the runners have an incredible 360-degree view. High income runners stay in Beijing for the most pampering hospitality and a bit of sightseeing in the Forbidden City and Tienanmen Square.
3. Safaricom Marathon – Kenya: $3,500 for 3-nights, min. $1,500 entry
An experience for the brave at heart, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is the location for this marathon. Run alongside cheetahs, zebras and on one portion, through lion territory. Not to worry, there are patrol helicopters and rangers watching out for everyone’s safety. The course’s terrain is almost as interesting as the animals one might see on route. It’s a safari-marathon experience and although the minimum $1,500 entry fee is high, participants are getting a two-in-one experience. This package deal includes hotel accommodations and the entry fee.
2. Mount Everest Marathon: $3,700 for 3-nights, Includes $2,500 Entry
Only runners who can handle the altitude can join this marathon. In Nepal, the race starts near Everest Base Camp which starts at 17,000 ft. elevation. The course moves through mountain passes all the way to Namche Bazaar. By the way, it takes 15 days of trekking just to get to the starting point of the base camp. The best news is that the marathon is mostly downhill yet gives bragging rights like few other events can. The price is a once in a lifetime ticket for some and a drop in the bucket to others. This marathon isn’t for everyone, but for those who participate we’re told it’s almost as good as a trip to the moon.
1. Antarctic Ice Marathon: $14,648 and Sells Out Quickly
This small fee includes quite a few extras, such as meals and tented accommodations and not to forget the entry fees. The typical marathon t-shirts, patches, certificates and other trinkets are included in the price. Participants pay extra to get to Punta Arenas from their departure city, but the flight from Punta Arenas to Antarctic is included in the listed price. This marathon is so exclusive that it can only admit a limited number of runners. Believe it or not, it sells out quickly each year and they are already looking at 2015.
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