Editor’s Note: The following post is by Renato Losio, a freelance writer, (slow) long-distance runner, and the author of RunAbroad.com. Running a half-marathon in every European country and mastering the art of vagabonding are Renato’s short-term goals.
Do you like to run, but hate running? Maybe you’re tired of running few miles a day, monotonously, on a treadmill or around the block. Not any longer! Why not run over to Europe for a short race or a marathon? Seriously, you can do this without being a fanatical athlete. It’s easy: book a flight, leave the stopwatch at home, and choose one of the following 10 great races in Europe.
Most marathons and half-marathons have start dates from mid-September through mid-November.
Stockholm Half-Marathon, Sweden
The 2009 Stockholm Half-Marathon starts September 29 in the center of Stockholm‘s Old Town, at the Royal Palace, and finishes at the city park in KungstrÃ¤dgÃ¥rden. An added bonus of running the race? You can see some of Stockholm’s most famous landmarks and buildings, like the Karlberg’s Castle and the Swedish Parliament.
Lucerne Marathon, Switzerland
The 2009 Lucerne Marathon is actually three races in one: a marathon, a half marathon and the bizarre schnuppermarathon (12.5km). They’re run in the heartland of Switzerland, in the beautiful city of Lucerne. Enjoy a relaxing weekend around the lake, visit the beautiful old town or add an extra day to visit Mount Rigi or the RÃ¼tli Meadow nearby. The start date is September 25.
Paris – Versailles: La Grande Classique, France
An unusual distance, the Paris – Versailles Grand Classic (September 27) is a 16-kilometer race from the centre of Paris to Versailles. From the Eiffel Tower to the Palace of Versailles: can you possibly find anything better? Non.
Amsterdam Marathon, The Netherlands
The 2009 Amsterdam Marathon features over 20,000 runners from around Europe. This year’s start date is October 18. Runners will crowd the streets of the Netherlands’ capital, Amsterdam, enjoying a superb sightseeing tour including the Vondelpark, the Maritime Museum and many miles of Amsterdam’s historic canals.
Race the Train, United Kingdom
Race the Train is a competition between runners and a steam train, on a 14-mile trail course. It’s a superbly themed race meant to challenge the Talyllyn Railway, a historic narrow-gauge railway and one of the great trains of Wales. It’s a must-do at least once for runners who like countryside scenery. It’s also a great race multi-terrain runners. Start date is August 15.
Brussels Marathon, Belgium
The 2009 Brussels Marathon (October 4) covers the avenues and boulevards of historic Brussels, crossing the city’s most beautiful parks. The finishing line is at the spectacular Grand Place. The event features a marathon and half-marathon, and are the main running events Belgium.
KÃ¶ln Marathon, Germany
A lot of great beer after the race, and a pure party atmosphere, draws thousands of runners and locals celebrating in the streets on race day (October 4, this year). The KÃ¶ln Marathon takes place in the city centre of Cologne, the carnival centre of Germany. The start & finish lines are in the Cologne Deutz area, not far from the city’s famous cathedral.
Zagreb Marathon, Croatia
Zagreb’s marathon is a race far away from the crowds; in 2008 fewer than 1,000 runners joined the two races. Combine the marathon or the half-marathon with a week of relaxing in Croatia on the Dalmatian coast. Have some great food in Dolan market and visit the beautiful upper town. The start date is October 11.
Garda Trentino Half-Marathon, Italy
On the Garda Trentino Half-Marathon you get to enjoy the best of Italy’s Lake Garda, not far from Milan. The race runs from Riva del Garda to Torbole, past the historical centre of Arco, a few miles along the Sarca river. Then you run down to the lake and back to the finish line. The 2009 start date is November 15.
Route du Vin, Luxembourg
The Route du Vin semi-marathon runs along the banks of the Moselle River on the German-Luxembourg border, where the valley is dominated by many small wine-making towns. One reason to come? Last year more than a thousand runners enjoyed a bottle of crémant Caves Gales after the half-marathon! The 2009 start date is September 27.