Fitness Trend: Destination Marathons

Two years ago, my friends and I hatched a brilliant plan: We’d all enter and train for the ING Miami Marathon, a 26.2-mile road race that cut through the heart of South Beach in the heart of winter. We stayed in a beachfront condo, earned cool finisher’s medals and celebrated with daiquiris in the sand. Bonus: At a time when most people are fighting holiday weight gain, we were in fantastic shape! Since then, we’ve also run Malibu, New York City and Negril, Jamaica. Next on our running bucket list: Thailand, New Zealand and a host of other (literally) hot spots.

Since most races in the Caribbean and Southern Hemisphere take place in our winter months, it makes since to commit now. You’ll want plenty of time to train (16 weeks, ideally) and plan your travel. Pro tip: If the race takes place on Sunday, plan to fly home on Monday or Tuesday so you have plenty of time to recover…and enjoy your vacation.

Below, a few marathons taking place this coming December and January that start under the palm trees and finish in the sand.

The Reggae Marathon in Negril, on Jamaica, December 5, 2015.

Jamaica’s premiere running event draws big crowds so you can count on package deals and race-day transportation at resorts large and small. You’ll want at least one day to recover on the beach. Expect fresh coconut water and reggae bands performing at nearly every mile marker.

Average temperature in December: 78° F.

Photo: @caryrandolph

Honolulu Marathon in Honolulu, Hawaii, on December 13, 2015.

No passport? No problem! Hawaii’s biggest race kicks off at 5:00 AM so you’ll cross the finish line and have a cocktail in hand just in time for breakfast. (Need an extra month to train? The Maui Oceanfront Marathon takes place on January 17, 2016.)

Average temperature in December: 77° F.

Photo: @honolulumarathon

Marathon Bahamas in Nassau, Bahamas, on January 17, 2016.

This race starts and ends on the oceanfront, but you won’t only be running on sand. Expect a winding course that showcases the best of the Bahamas’ capital city, including a tour through Atlantis resort and Nassau’s historic downtown. Atlantis is a sponsor of the event, so you can bet on great rates and lots of perks if you choose to stay there.

Average temperature in January: 77° F.

Photo: @marathonbahamas

Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, in Dubai, UAE, on January 22, 2016.

If you prefer desert sand to island dunes, this Adidas-sponsored event should be next on your list. Winding through the streets of the UAE capital, around its marina and famed Jumeirah Islands, this might be the Middle East’s very best running event. Stay at the Burj Al Arab (if you’re fancy) and cool down with a stroll through the world’s biggest mall.

Average temperature in January: 65° F.

Photo: @dh_wellness

Marrakech International Marathon in Marrakech, Morocco, on January 31, 2016.

Twisting through the ancient streets and bazaars of North Africa’s most romantic city, this marathon is a perfect way to see the sites without falling into a tourist trap. Unwind after 26.2 miles with a trip to one of the Moroccan capital’s famous hammams (bathhouses) for a four-hand massage and a dip in the pool.

Average temperature in January: 55° F.

Photo: @whatiseewhenirun