The Hong Kong Marathon is over, but for many runners the marathon season never ends. Overseas marathons are attracting an increasing number of Hongkongers. The Osaka Marathon, for instance, has been attracting some 1,500 runners from Hong Kong each year for the past few years, and runners from Hong Kong can be found taking part in marathons in every corner of the world.
When it comes to overseas marathons, not many runners can claim to share the same level of enthusiasm as Mike Cartwright, 59, a retired police officer who has completed 167 full marathons (42.2km) – 89 different ones – in 25 countries since his debut in Beijing in October 2006.
“I join overseas marathons mainly to challenge myself, meet different people, and mix with local runners. For me, the key attraction of overseas marathons is the organisation and support from local people ... even on non-racing days the locals appreciate marathon runners from overseas and show support to us,” says Cartwright.
But for many runners, the opportunity to explore a foreign land on foot and enjoy the sights and sounds along the course is a key attraction to joining an overseas race.
Of all the marathons Cartwright has taken part in, he identifies 10 which stand out as offering the best views of the city or the area in which they are held. He also includes his observations about each of these races.
Fujisan Marathon, Japan
This is a scenic run around Lake Kawaguchi, with views of Mount Fuji as you run.
The race is well organised, but because of the small population living around the lake area, don’t expect to see the same numbers of supporters as you would see on most Japanese marathons. It can be very cold when this run takes place, and there is at least one challenging hill at about 22km. The villages around Kawaguchi are very quaint and are worth visiting after the race.
Next race: November 2018; fujisan-marathon.jp
Disneyworld Dopey Challenge, Florida, United States
This includes 5km, 10km, half marathon (21.1km) and full marathon runs over four days. Completing all four events entitle you to collect six medals and six T-shirts. All races are held within the Walt Disney World Resort, with plenty of support and many Disney characters along the course.
This event is ideal for the whole family because when participants aren’t running, they can make use of the resort’s facilities.
Next event: January 9-13, 2019; www.rundisney.com/disneyworld-marathon
Paris Marathon, France
The main attraction of this massive but well-supported race is the opportunity to see many of the tourist spots in Paris as you run.
Despite the narrow cobblestone streets, you will see all the best parts of the French capital.
Next race: April 8, 2018; wwww.schneiderelectricparismarathon.com
San Francisco Marathon, US
The main feature is the Golden Gate Bridge and the Golden Gate Park.
But it’s also nice running through all the local neighbourhoods and up and down the hills. Each neighbourhood has its own distinctive groups of supporters – Latino, Chinese, Japanese, gay, and others. Motorcycle gang members (very nice people) help to control the flow of traffic, so don;t be surprised to see many gentlemen on Harley-Davidson bikes.
Next race: July 29, 2018; www.thesfmarathon.com
Toyako Marathon, Japan
Toyako is a large lake in Hokkaido. As with the Fujisan Marathon, this is a scenic run around a picturesque lake. There is an active volcano, Mount Usu, in the middle of the lake. Spectators are sparse in this rural area, but the race is well organised and provides a fantastic view of the countryside.
Next race: May 20, 1018; www.toyako-marathon.jp
Phuket Marathon, Thailand
A well organised event which now includes 5km and 10km races, as well as half and full marathons. Some participants run in the 10km race on the Saturday and then take part in the full marathon on the Sunday.
The marathon route is hilly and challenging, but also quite scenic, taking runners though rice fields and small towns. A highlight of this event is the pasta party, held a day before the full marathon, with dishes prepared by luxury hotels in the Laguna Phuket Resort – where most runners stay for an easy start and finish.
Next race: June 9-10, 2018; www.phuketmarathon.com
Salzburg Marathon, Austria
Start in the old town of Salzburg with Mozart music below the Hohensalzburg Castle, then run out into the countryside where The Sound of Music was filmed.
Next race: May 6, 2018; www.salzburg-marathon.at
Bali Marathon, Indonesia
This is a hilly – but not tough – course which runs through beautiful countryside and many small villages. The villagers come out to lend their support to runners, many in traditional costumes.
It’s hot on the course, but running past rice fields and seeing the sun rising makes for beautiful views.
Next race: August 2018; www.balimarathon.com
Khmer Empire Marathon, Cambodia
The race is run within the Unesco World Heritage temple complex of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, and passes close to nearly 40 ancient temples.
Next race: August 5, 2018; www.cambodia-events.org
Guam Marathon, US
Another hot and humid run, but its coastal route allows for great views of the blue ocean. The race finishes at the beach, so you can dip into the crystal clear cool sea after the run.
Next race: April 8, 2018; unitedguammarathon.com