10 of the best international marathons every runner should finish

Running is a sport that can take you places. And not just in the literal sense of A to Z. There are almost 100 marathon events being held across Australia. But if you want to set yourself an unforgettable challenge then get your passport ready, and qualify or register for an overseas marathon in 2018.

Run the world

Melbourne-based runner Grant Leonard has accrued plenty of stamps on his marathon passport including London and the Paris Marathon. He says he chose to run the New York Marathon after hearing runners say how electric the atmosphere was.

"I totally agree with them, it was amazing to run through the streets of New York with so many spectators cheering you on. I'm definitely doing it again," says Leonard.

"My decision to run the Paris Marathon was a little different because we were planning a family holiday through Europe and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to sneak a marathon in while we were there. It was a great experience."

Two birds one trip

Seasoned marathon runner Moira Clarkson recently signed up for the San Francisco in July. She says it will be the ultimate start to her United States holiday.

"I'll start the holiday fit and healthy and then be smug for the rest of the trip," says Clarkson "Combining a marathon with a holiday is a great way to see a new part of the world. After the San Francisco race we'll celebrate by sipping wine in the Nappa Valley and visiting Yosemite National Park and Las Vegas."

Luck of the draw

Before you start telling everyone your running the New York Marathon, check the entry conditions. Some of the largest events such as New York, Berlin, Tokyo and London have a ballot, while others allow runners to directly register and secure their place online.

"I was accepted in the ballot for the New York Marathon," says Leonard. "I paid $10 to go in the lottery and I got lucky. The Paris Marathon had two registration waves, and I got a race bib on the first wave."

Keep your options open

There are other ways to guarantee your place at the start line of a renowned overseas race. Fast runners can secure a spot by proving that they finished an AIMS-certified marathon in the last two years under a specified time.


If that fails, you can buy a place through a tour company like Travellingfit, which sells marathon packages that include accommodation, running apparel and other extras.

A third option to guarantee a race spot is by raising money for a charity. Interplast, an Australian and New Zealand charity that sends volunteer plastic and reconstructive medical staff to provide free life-changing surgery and medical training in the Asia Pacific region has five spots to the famous New York Marathon. To access to these golden tickets, runners need to fundraise $10,000.

"We are so excited to offer our supporters the opportunity for a coveted spot in the New York Marathon," says Interplast CEO Prue Ingram. "We know that taking part in such an iconic event whilst raising funds to contribute towards changing futures will be one of the most rewarding experiences a runner could have."

First time advice

Deciding to run an overseas marathon requires at least as much preparation as one in Australia as there are new factors to consider such as jet lag, different food, large crowds and new environments.

Leonard recommends arriving at the destination four days before the race to acclimatise to different time zone and to get acquainted with the city.

"I'm usually tapering four days out from the race, so in the lead up to the big day I like to do a lot of walking to help adapt to the new time zone," says Leonard. "Preparing for race day is full on because I want to know 100 per cent where I need to be and what to take (more so for New York as there is a long wait from when you are transported out to when they close the bridge and you start running).

"Unlike at home, when I'm competing overseas, I run with my phone so I can call my wife to meet her once I've crossed the finish line."

Make connections

Leonard advises seeking out and speaking to runners that have done the marathon you have your sights set on to get priceless tips and advice. "This really helped me to physically and mentally prepare for the New York Marathon, and it made it a much more memorable experience," he says.

The goal of one day completing an ultra-marathon inspires running fanatic Laura Hill to clock up the kilometres each week. With a day job in the corporate world, Laura loves nothing more than lacing up her runners and hitting the pavement to clear her mind and challenge her body.

Follow Laura Hill on Twitter

Check out the gallery above to see the 10 top marathons around the world.