Hardest Marathons in the World

When you think about travelling, the immediate associations that spring to mind often include indulging in delicious foreign foods, drinking cocktails by the pool and discovering new places and people. And while that is certainly one type of holiday, and a very nice one at that, it isn’t the only one. It’s becoming increasingly popular for people to take a short break from their day-to-day lives and go away on a healthy holiday – a time to invest in a little self-pampering and a lot of self-development. One activity that has proven a common focal point of such a holiday is the marathon.

Planning a health retreat around a marathon

Whether you’re running to beat your personal best, or to raise money for a meaningful charity, or simply supporting from the sidelines, marathons are wonderful events to be a part of. The atmosphere is intoxicating, the spirit is infectious and the comradely is inspiring. And at the end of the day, both runners with 42 kilometres under their belt and those who spent 4 hours standing to watch, will have had more exercise than those lazing about on a sun lounger all afternoon – as tempting as that may be.

So, you’ve decided that instead of taking a break from your normal routine of fitness and healthy eating, you’re going to use your time off to further improve your mind and body with a marathon-inspired health retreat. But why stop there? If you’re dedicating your holiday to a marathon, you may as well find a marathon worth travelling for! We’ve done a bit of research and come up with a list of some of the hardest marathons in the world that are sure to put you through your paces.

The world’s most challenging marathons

Firstly, and quite famously, there’s the Great Wall Marathon, an opportunity that arises every May to run the iconic Great Wall of China. The race includes 5,164 stone steps to be climbed and extremely narrow passages, resulting in most finishing times lying between five and seven hours. As you might imagine, being held in a country where the population far surpasses one billion, the event sells out rather quickly.

The worlds most challenging marathons

Then there’s the Antarctic Ice Marathon, the world’s southernmost race of its kind. With high altitudes and low temperatures, this is not a challenge for the faint-hearted. And with starting prices of circa $20,000, you might need a credit card or two to enrol.

Another one worth mentioning is the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon, the highest marathon in the world, starting at 17,598 feet. Before even beginning the race, participants must make the 14-day trek up to base camp – talk about a warm-up!

Finally, allow us to introduce the Inca Trail Marathon, accepted as the most difficult marathon in the world. With inclines and declines of great extremes, the course is estimated to be as difficult as running nearly two tough marathons in a row. But when you cross that finish line in the legendary Lost City of the Incas, it will all be worth it.

Holidays for your mind, body and soul

But if that’s not quite what you had in mind, there are plenty of more normal marathons around the world that won’t necessarily consume all of your time and energy. Your ideal health retreat might look more like one day of running a regular marathon and two weeks of beach holiday, along with some meditative activities for the mind, body and soul.

Holidays for your mind, body and soul

With the marathon ticked off the list, you’ll be free to indulge in spa days and get that much needed massage to loosen your muscles. You can join a cooking class and learn to make delicious and healthy local food. You can do a juicing cleanse or a mind detox with yoga on the beach. And once you’ve recovered from your marathon, you might even enjoy a run along the beach.

Travel represents something different for all of us. For some, it is a chance to take on an enormous challenge. For others, it is a chance to take a short break from all of life’s pressures. But in each case, it can be an opportunity to tick something off the bucket list and come home stronger and prouder than before.

Covering the costs

Whether you’re signing up for an extreme marathon or you’re after a holiday filled with foot rubs and yogis, health retreat-style getaways can be expensive – especially if you’re being charged for all your overseas purchases. With a 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard, you can be sure all of your money is going towards having a great holiday, and none of it is going towards unnecessary fees. A 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard has no overseas transaction fees, no currency conversion fees and no annual fees. And wherever you choose to retreat to, you’ll have access to an incredible network of global Wi-Fi hotspots.