Travel Picks: Top 10 marathons across the globe

Fri Apr 1, 2011 9:35am EDT
 
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - It's no surprise that 26 miles can define a man's soul or a woman's heart. A marathon tests the very limits of physical endurance. History, terrain, competition all are ingredients of a great marathon. Online travel adviser Cheapflights (www.cheapflights.com) provides a top 10 list of marathons around the world for those who aren't so leisurely when it comes to their leisure time. Reuters has not endorsed this list:

1. Athens Classic Marathon

November 13, 2011 runners will follow in the footsteps of Pheidippides as they track the route of the first Marathon. We capitalize the name because it was from this small coastal town that one man struggled the original 26 miles to Athens -- across arid, rocky ground. When he got there he proclaimed civilization was safe, that the Greek army had defeated the Persians. He then keeled over and died. The route is not for the faint-hearted.

2. Dublin Marathon

October 31 runners gather for a decidedly different foray, one billed as the friendliest in the world. The Dublin Marathon is largely flat. It starts at Fitzwilliam Street Upper, and finishes up in Merrion Square North -- both close to the center of the city. Along the way contestants are cheered on as perhaps nowhere else. Spectators feel their pain -- and are more than happy to help them kill it with a Guinness or two when the race is over.

3. Boston Marathon

April 18 there's another run blessed by the Irish. It's on the other side of The Pond. The 115th running of the Boston marathon attracts a million spectators a year. The course is fabled -- for its beauty and its brutality. Rural Hopkinton is the jumping off point. Then the run winds through countryside and townships before terminating in Boston's Kenmore Square, in the shadows of Fenway Park. But first contestants must conquer Heartbreak Hill -- and their own demons.

4. ING New York City Marathon

If the Boston Marathon unofficially kicks off prime time North American runs, the ING New York City Marathon finishes them up on November 6. The Big Apple event may not have the history of its New England cousin, but the competition is every bit as tough. The course is a true five-borough affair, drawing the city together. It starts in Staten Island, then makes its way through Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan before finishing up in Central Park.   Continued...

 
<p>Runners start the 114th running of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Massachusetts April 19, 2010. REUTERS/Gretchen Ertl</p>