TRAVEL ON THE RUN

Com­bine a chal­leng­ing run with some sight­see­ing, says Sarah Bax­ter

Sunday Times - - Artisan - — As­pa­sia Kar­ras © The Sun­day Tele­graph

1. THE BIG AP­PLE

Tour all five bor­oughs of New York City along with 50 000-odd peo­ple — and very vo­cif­er­ous spec­ta­tors — by join­ing the world’s big­gest marathon in early Novem­ber.

From the Staten Is­land start to the fin­ish in Cen­tral Park, you ex­pe­ri­ence all sides of New York — not just Man­hat­tan but Brook­lyn’s in­dus­trial-turned-trendy Gowanus, the brown­stones of Lafayette Av­enue and Wil­liams­burg.

● (tc­sny­c­marathon.org).

2. A RO­MAN RAMBLE

Take the 2019 Rome marathon (April 7) at a stroll and you have a first-class tour of the Eter­nal City: a loop from the Colos­seum con­cen­trates on the his­toric cen­tre, fol­low­ing the Tiber, cross­ing pi­az­zas and pass­ing 500 land­marks — from St Peter’s Basil­ica and the Cir­cus Max­imus to the Villa Borgh­ese and Span­ish Steps. For­tu­nately, those famed seven hills are avoided and cob­bles are kept to a min­i­mum.

(mara­tonadiroma.it).

3. CAPE CRUSADERS

Cape Town’s marathon is held on the Sun­day clos­est to Her­itage Day (this year it’s on Septem­ber 23) and was de­signed to de­liver a di­verse dose of his­tory — the route passes sites such as the Cas­tle of Good Hope fortress, the Na­tional Gallery, Ned­er­duitse Kerk and District Six.

It also shows off the city’s nat­u­ral ad­van­tages, trac­ing stretches of At­lantic coast, the banks of the Lies­beek River and fyn­bosflush Ron­de­bosch Com­mon, all be­neath the watch­ful eye of Ta­ble Moun­tain.

(capetown­marathon.com).

4. READY, STEADY, RE­ICH­STAG

Ber­lin boasts what is ar­guably the world’s fastest course — the world record of two hours, two min­utes, 57 sec­onds was set here — and its marathon (tak­ing place this year on Septem­ber 16) is a scenic saunter through the city. It’s an ef­fi­cient way to see the Bran­den­burg Gate (race start/fin­ish), the Re­ich­stag, Pots­damer Platz and more.

Al­ter­na­tively, mark the cen­te­nary of Bauhaus in 2019 at Weimar’s in­au­gu­ral Bauhaus Marathon (April 28, 100-jahre­bauhaus-marathon.de).

● (bmw-ber­lin-marathon.com).

5. ON SONG IN PRAGUE

Me­dieval Prague wasn’t de­signed for a mass marathon — but with the help of Czech leg­end Emil Zá­topek, run­ners have raced the city’s nar­row streets since 1995. This year’s race takes place to­day, and an ac­com­pa­ny­ing mu­sic fes­ti­val means run­ners set off from the Old Town Square to strains of Smetana. The course then criss­crosses the Vl­tava, with bands belt­ing out en route. Stay on for more mu­sic: the Prague Spring In­ter­na­tional Mu­sic Fes­ti­val be­gins on May 12 (fes­ti­val.cz).

(runczech.com).

6. SYDNEY SPEC­TA­CLES

Sydney’s spec­tac­u­lar marathon is the pub­lic legacy of the 2000 Sum­mer Games — the race orig­i­nally fol­lowed the Olympic course, though it has since been tweaked for speed and scenery.

Those tak­ing part on Septem­ber 16 this year will be­gin their run with a priv­i­leged traf­fic-free cross­ing of the Har­bour Bridge be­fore cir­cling Cen­ten­nial Park, pass­ing Sydney Cricket Ground and crawl­ing bar­lined Dar­ling Har­bour to fin­ish be­neath the Opera House sails.

● (syd­neyrun­ningfes­ti­val.com.au/events/ marathon). There is a rea­son the Athens marathon is called the au­then­tic marathon. Not be­cause some wily travel com­pany reg­is­tered the do­main name first, but for the more salu­tary rea­son that you lit­er­ally run the orig­i­nal course. You fol­low the an­cient foot­steps of the orig­i­nal marathon run­ner — the Athe­nian foot-sol­dier Phei­dip­pi­des, who ran from the bat­tle­field in Marathon to Athens in 490 BC to de­liver the mes­sage of Athe­nian vic­tory over the Per­sians.

Hav­ing now my­self run the same course, which has 32km of con­sis­tent up­hill, I un­der­stood why the poor fel­low ex­pired af­ter de­liv­er­ing his mes­sage of “Niki” — as in “Vic­tory”.

The last 10km wend their way into Athens it­self and con­clude rather ma­jes­ti­cally at the an­cient sta­dium. I took my time on this par­tic­u­lar marathon — did I men­tion the el­e­va­tion? — and en­joyed the crazy spirit of the race: groups of run­ners run­ning in for­ma­tion like an orig­i­nal Athe­nian army and chil­dren hand­ing out olive branches. ●

7. ATHENS: THE ORIG­I­NAL MARATHON

(athen­sauthen­tic­marathon.gr).

Pic­ture: 123rf.com/pro­file_po­lifoto

WHEN IN ROME Run­ners tak­ing part in the 23rd Rome Marathon pass­ing the front of the al­tar of the home­land — the monument to Vit­to­rio Emanuele II, king of Italy.

Pic­ture: mybe­struns.com/PragueMarathon

CZECH MATES Prague’s marathon course is also the sev­enth fastest and has been voted one of the most beau­ti­ful in the world.

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