The World’s Ultimate Half Marathons, Vol. 1

Runners cross the 25 de Abril Bridge in Lisbon, Portugal, at the Lisbon Half Marathon. (© Jose Fuente | Dreamstime)

1) Antarctic Ice Half Marathon

Yes, this really is a half marathon run in Antarctica, where you can expect temperatures to average between -4 to 14 degrees in November, when the race is held. And although trails are groomed before the race, you’ll run on solid ice for your entire 13.1 miles.

November • Union Glacier, Antarctica

2) Polar Night Half Marathon

Run more than 200 miles inside the Arctic Circle on the Norwegian island of Tromsøya, this race offers some of the most stunning sights you’ll ever see. You’ll run through “polar night,” with the sun below the horizon while the moon and the aurora borealis light up the night sky, along icy trails lit by torchlight.

January • Tromsø, Norway

3) Egmond Half Marathon

The dunes, beaches and forests of this small village along the North Sea coastline of Holland await runners at this now 45-year-old race, whose course is “determined by the weather, the wind and the beach” each year. Past races have seen the course covered in snow, while other years have sunny, spring-like conditions. Come prepared. 🙂

January • Bergen, The Netherlands

4) Bermuda Half Marathon

A loop race that follows a 13.1-mile course from downtown Hamilton, the race offers a wealth of scenic views both of the island’s plentiful natural wonders and its people. Because it’s limited in size, don’t be surprised to hear your name called — runner numbers are printed in the local paper on the day of the race.

January • Hamilton, Bermuda

5) Granollers Barcelona Half Marathon

With a course that takes runners on a loop run around the city and out into the neighboring countryside of this village in the Catalonian region of northern Spain, this race features unforgettable views and is famous for drawing many of the world’s most elite runners.

April • Granollers, Spain

6) Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon

Sometimes called “the world’s richest half marathon,” this race is famous for being the place where the world record time for a half marathon is often broken, thanks to its fast and flat course around the mangrove swamp of Ras al Khaimah, one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.

February • Ras al Khaimah, UAE

7) Ein Gedi Half Marathon

You’ll run in the “lowest place on Earth” at this race along the shore of the Dead Sea in Israel’s Tamar Region, where you’ll head from the waterfront along Highway 90 to the fortress of Masada, built by Herod the Great around 30 B.C.

January • Ein Gedi, Israel

8) Lisbon Half Marathon

A stunning start across the Tagus River via the 1 1/2-mile-long 25 de Abril Bridge, which commemorates the birth of Portugal’s democracy, awaits runners at this springtime half, which runs through the city streets of Lisbon and along the banks of the Tagus before finishing at a 16th-century monastery.

March • Lisbon, Portugal

9) Stramilano Half Marathon

When it began in the mid-1970s, this race was open only to elite runners. Several years later, it opened to the general public and today it’s one of Italy’s most popular road races, unfolding past many of the architectural treasures Milan has to offer.

March • Milan, Italy

10) Punta Cana Half Marathon

Fast and flat, this half runs almost entirely within the Punta Cana Resort along Tortuga Bay on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, and features a stretch along the beach around the midpoint of the race. Its 26.2-miler is also a Boston Marathon qualifier.

April • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

11) Two Oceans Half Marathon

The stunning views of Table Mountain, with tablecloth-like clouds draping over its peak, look down onto the city below, and that’s the view you’ll have when you begin this race in the Newlands suburb of Cape Town, and run all the way to the University of Cape Town sports field.

March • Cape Town, South Africa

12) Romancing the Island Half Marathon

Truly jaw-dropping views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Marin County and the city skyline of San Francisco await at this race on Angel Island, where you’ll circumnavigate the island along a hilly loop trail. The race is limited to 400 entrants, so sign up early.

April • Tiburon, CA

13) Midsummer Munro Half Marathon

Described as “the best race in the U.K.” by Runner’s World a few years ago, and by others as “gratuitously difficult” or even an “ultra half,” this race features an elevation climb equal to the height of a Scottish Munro, a mountain that reaches at least 3,000 feet high.

July • Surrey, England

13.1) Aletsch Half Marathon

Accessible only by cable car, this village high above the Rhone valley in the Swiss Alps is the place where this summertime half is run, along trails through forests and across meadows on the way to the Aletsch Glacier, which you’ll get to see on the run as you make your way to the finish line at Bettmerhorn, at 8,671 feet.

June • Bettmeralp, Switzerland

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