Run the world: Runner's guide to 2013

Run the world: Runner's guide to 2013

Plan your 2013 trips around these exotic marathons

There’s something just a little bit odd about endurance runners.

After all, who else would think a fun day out involves knee pains, dehydration and extreme sweating. For about five hours.

It takes commitment, and maybe a good dose of insanity, to tackle a 42.195-kilometer marathon.

But more people are entering endurance running events in exotic locales each year. Here's a list of some of the key events to look out for if you're keen.

Have we missed your favorite? Tell us when and where you'll be running in 2013 in the comments below


January: Dubai Marathon

Dubai MarathonGot a world record in you? US$100,000 could be yours in the Dubai Marathon.

No shrinking violet when it comes to making a statement, the annual Dubai Marathon starts and finishes at the tallest building in the world, the 828-meter Burj Khalifa.

There’s a US$100,000 prize up for grabs for anyone who can set a marathon world record on this fast flat course, beating either Kenya's Patrick Makau (2:03:38) or Britain's Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25).

Cool January temperatures make it an ideal time to pound the pavement in a city surrounded by sun-kissed undulating desert dunes. 

Distance: 42, 10 and 3 kilometers.

January 25, 2013;

Also on CNN: Insider Guide: Best of Dubai

February: Hong Kong Marathon

Hong Kong MarathonAn early start makes for cleaner air -- but your lungs might still burn at the end. Starting before dawn, last year's Hong Kong Marathon attracted the largest field in its 15-year history with 65,000 crossing the start line.

Starting on Nathan Road, marathoners weave their way through the New Territories, across Tsing Ma Bridge and back again through the Western Harbour Tunnel to the finish line at Victoria Park. 

Distance: 42, 21 and 10 kilometers, plus 21 kilometers (wheelchair).

February 24, 2013;

Also on CNN: Hong Kong's 5 best running routes

March: Los Angeles Marathon

LA MarathonThe Los Angeles Marathon takes runners past distinctive landmarks on the course from downtown to the coast.

Spectators outnumber participants in the Los Angeles Marathon 40:1.

While runners work up a sweat on the course through the City of Angels, the million or so spectators let their hair down partying streetside as myriad entertainers keep the crowd in good spirits, inspiring runners to keep the beat.

Keen marathoners use the early morning five-kilometer race as a warm-up for the main event. Cyclists can take advantage of traffic-free streets and participate in the LA Bike Tour which saw 15,000 take to the saddle last year.

Distance: 42 kilometers.

March 17, 2013;

Also on CNN: Insider Guide: Best of L.A.

April: Dead Sea Marathon

Dead Sea Ultra MarathonRun at sea level and below in the Dead Sea Marathon.Running to the lowest point on earth -- 418 meters below sea level -- the Dead Sea Marathon is predominantly a downhill race.

Starting at an elevation of 853 meters near Amman in Jordan, there’s a 50-kilometer ultra-marathon in addition to the standard race.

An extraordinarily attractive course passes through some of the city's historic streets, while small participant numbers mean there’s little start line argy-bargy and plenty of scope to take in the scenery.

Distance: 50, 42, 21 and 4.2 kilometers.

April 5, 2013;

May: BMO Vancouver Marathon

Vancouver MarathonThe Vancouver race takes runners along the water in Stanley Park.

The largest international marathon in Canada and one of the oldest, the BMO Vancouver Marathon has evolved since 46 runners trotted around Stanley Park back in 1972.

These days the route is a little more adventurous, taking participants from Queen Elizabeth Park to Kitsilano Beach via Pacific Spirit Park across the bridge to English Bay, a loop around Stanley Park finishing on Vancouver’s stunning waterfront.

It’s worth running simply to take in Vancouver’s scenery.

Distance: 42 and 21 kilometers.

May 5, 2013;

Also on CNN: Insider Guide: Best of Vancouver

June: Big Five Marathon, South Africa

Big Five Marathon

Running through a landscape inhabited by lion, hippo and the odd rhinoceros is sure to provide an incentive to achieve a personal best time in the Big Five Marathon.

It takes place in South Africa’s Entabeni Game Reserve, which is known for its mountain landscape, wide open plains and formidable rivers, and wild game and bird life.

Armed rangers are on hand to ensure runners don’t end up on the lunch menu of any large carnivores that are likely to invade a tough sun-baked wilderness course.

Distance: 42, 21 and 10 kilometers.

June 22, 2013;

Also on CNN: Insider Guide: Best of Cape Town

July: Australian Outback Marathon 

Australian Outback MarathonDust can fly on the red earth track of the Australian Outback Marathon.

Summer temperatures in the Australian desert can reach upwards of a throat-parched 45 C, which is a good reason to hold the Outback Marathon in the dead of winter.

The marathon follows a flat course in the red center of Australia where all roads but the main highway are unsealed, so expect to inhale your share of dust pounding across the red earth.

The Olgas and Uluru rise from the desert as landmarks in an otherwise featureless, mysterious landscape.

Distance: 42, 21, 11 and 6 kilometers.

July 27, 2013;

Also on CNN: 10 best places to run in Singapore

August: Mongolian Sunrise to Sunset Marathon

Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset MarathonThe Mongolian Sunrise to Sunset event covers a spectacular 100 kilometers.

Not for the faint-hearted, nor for the height-challenged, the Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset Marathon is described as the world's most beautiful 100-kilometer run.

One wonders how much runners really care about the scenery after pounding mountain roads for the best part of a day.

Held on the northern Mongolian border, runners start from the shores of Khövsgöl Lake at an altitude of 1,650 meters. The lake is surrounded by mountains which rise to around 3,000 meters.

Runners face a climb of 700 meters into the mountains, then dip into a river valley before another steep climb to Khirvesteg Pass.

Distance: 100 and 42 kilometers.

August 7, 2013;

September: Marathon du Medoc, France

Marathon du MedocLess serious running gear is required for the Marathon du Medoc.

Marathon running and copious consumption of wine rarely make good bedfellows. Unless you’re in France, participating or spectating in the Marathon du Medoc.

With a firm focus on fun and conviviality this is more like a festival in the vineyards that just happens to have a running element. Fancy dress is welcome, indeed is encouraged, for both participants and spectators.

Distance: 42 kilometers.

September 7, 2013;

October: Budapest Marathon

Budapest MarathonRunners pound the pavement alongside historic architecture and the Danube River in the Budapest Marathon

Picturesque city streets branch out from the start line at Heroes' Square where a bevy of statues look down on marathon runners.

If that’s not enough inspiration to run a personal best, the course through Budapest and along the Danube is almost entirely flat.

Distance: 42 kilometers.

October 13, 2013;

November: Great Barrier Reef Marathon

Great Barrier MarathonA not-so-gentle beach jog between waves and rainforest in Queensland.

In 2012 the Solar Eclipse Marathon was so named after the rare astrological event that had a solar eclipse as the starting gun. In 2013 runners will compete in the Great Barrier Reef Marathon.

Starting on Four Mile Beach in the north Queensland resort town of Port Douglas before winding through sugar cane plantations, the flat course skirts World Heritage-listed rainforest.

Bring your swimmers as a dip in the ocean is just reward for completing the course before humidity and wet season rains sap energy levels.

Distance: 42 and 21 kilometers.

November 9, 2013;

December: Honolulu Marathon

Honolulu MarathonHawaii's Honolulu Marathon takes in the splendor of Oahu's coastline.

Attracting one of the largest fields of runners (25,000 last year) this grand old lady celebrates 30 years on the marathon calendar in 2013.

With a Pacific Ocean backdrop, starters follow Ala Moana Boulevard which translates to "path by the ocean," passing by the only royal palace on U.S. soil.

Beneath craggy volcanic peaks and high rise condos, runners might want to slow the pace a little passing an extinct volcano affording spectacular views of Oahu’s stunning coastline.

Distance: 42 kilometers.

December 8, 2013;

Also on CNN: World's 10 toughest endurance challenges