Some of the best marathons Europe has to offer
Virgin Money London Marathon
The biggest of all the European marathons, the Virgin Money London Marathon has grown exponentially since its inception in 1981. Nearly 40,000 runners take to the streets of London every April, with over 600,000 spectators cheering them on. Starting in Greenwich Park, the course winds through the streets of London via famous landmarks, including Big Ben, the London Eye, the Tower of London, and crossing over Tower Bridge, before crossing the finishing line at Buckingham Palace. The marathon is also an established member of the World Marathon Majors, making it a must run marathon for your bucket list.
Marathon du Medoc
Not one of the biggest marathons in Europe, but possibly the most enjoyable. Marathon du Medoc throws off the shackles of formality to give runners a truly unique marathon experience. As part of an 8,500 strong field, participants snake their way through pristine vineyards in Pauillac, just north of Bordeaux, collecting free cups of red wine, stocked at all 20 aid stations along the route. The final 4km of the race also boasts unlimited ice cream, oysters and cheese. Try not to indulge too much though, after all there is still a race to run.
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Rock ‘n’ Roll Maratona de Lisboa
Set in Lisbon, the coastal capital of Portugal, this marathon is one not to be missed. Packed with entertainment in the form of 30 live bands dotted along the route, a staple for all Rock ‘n’ Roll marathons, runners take on a point-to-point course, which begins in the beach town of Cascais, traversing along the Tagus River, before reaching the finish line in central Lisbon amidst its historic architecture. From here runners can bask in the shadow of the stunning Castle of Sao Jorge and take in the beautiful vista overlooking the Vasco de Gama bridge – the longest in Europe.
Widely regarded as the birthplace of the sport, the Athens Marathon allows runners to follow in the footsteps of the original marathon runner – Pheidippides, who ran from Marathon to Athens, to bring the capital news of the Athenian victory in the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. The field of 13,000 runners follow the route taken by the historic messenger over challenging rocky hills, before arriving at the finishing line situated in the majestic white marble Panathenaic Stadium.
BMW Berlin Marathon
Another of the six World Major Marathons, the Berlin Marathon is regarded as one of the fastest marathons in the world, perfect for those looking to beat their PB. Since 2003 the world marathon record has been beaten six times on the German course. The perfect weather conditions, pancake flat asphalt course, along with 80 live music acts, culminate to make the perfect running conditions for those looking for a fast time, or those first timers looking to ease themselves into the world of marathon racing.
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Probably as awe inspiring as marathons get. Located in Interlaken in the mountains of Switzerland, the Jungfrau Marathon boasts incredible vistas, but you will have to work for them. Be aware, the course is not as easy as the first flat 10k along Lake Brienz may suggest. Come the 11k mark, runners begin their relentless ascent into the Swiss Alps including the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains. The ascent is worth enduring however, as the finish line, located 2100 meters above sea level provides breathtaking panoramic views of the region.
Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris
Why not fulfill your passion for running in the city of love? Known for its flat course and fast times, runners are sure to fall in love with the event, as well as the city itself. The course sees 40,000 runners make their way along the beautiful Seine River, past some of the most famous sites in Europe, including the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral. The marathon also takes runners to areas of the city that most tourists would otherwise miss, including Bois de Vincennes, making this one of Europes most diverse marathons, and a cultural delight.
Bilbao Night Marathon
Running through narrow, neon lit streets is not the first image that the word marathon conjures up. However, that is exactly what you get with this unique event. Set in Bilbao, North West Spain, this night marathon boasts raucous crowds, live bands and DJ sets, all of which line the streets along the route. The two lap loop circuit may deter some, but the finish line located in the vicinity of the famous Guggenheim Museum, lit by a dazzling fireworks display, is spectacular.
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Airtricity Dublin Marathon
A great race for beginners as well as those seasoned runners on the hunt for a new PB. This marathon, set in the heartland of Guinness, has excellent conditions for runners, with cool temperatures, bottled water a plenty, and wide open areas along the course. You’ll also be in the party mood thanks to the vibrant crowds that line the route in their thousands creating a festival-esque atmosphere.
Dubbed the Venice of Northern Europe, Amsterdam plays host to a marathon that is both diverse and intriguing. With a little something to interest most of the 16,000 runners, the mixed looped route includes liberal stretches of both urban and rural areas. Beginning in the 1928 Olympic Stadium, marathoners trek beside the Amstel River and through the picturesque Vondelpark before circling back via Rijksmuseum – home to famous works by Van Gogh and Rembrandt.