Marathon tourism proves just the ticket

The Great Wall in China is probably the hardest and Beaujolais the easiest – with former war zones in between

Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 16:54

“The Tokyo marathon had 337,000 applications for 35,000 places. London and New York are huge mass marathons, major cities with major draw. Boston is the oldest marathon in the world, it started in 1897 and has run every year since,” says Joyce. His clientele has mixed motivations.

“Some people want to set a PB [personal best], so they might go to Berlin, which is a very flat course where the world record is set. Others want to say they have done all six and pick them off year by year. Others get fond of one and keep doing it. We have one guy who has just done his seventh straight New York marathon with us.”

Emma Long used to be one of those people “who thought joggers were weirdos”, but for the past three years, this mother of two young children from Sandymount gets up at 6am several times a week to train.

Despite her kids doing a marvellous job of keeping her ego in check by innocently asking why she never wins any of the races she runs, she uses foreign marathons as a training bull’s eye.

“I’m just looking for a fun place to go, where there is a good atmosphere, a nice race to do and camaraderie. With a race in Dublin, people do the race and go home straight afterwards whereas where people travel, they hang around for the whole weekend so there is a good buzz.”

She has done the French Beaujolais marathon twice, an annual wine run in the South of France where runners can do a 12k, half or full marathon. It is not, however, a place where many people run their personal best, as she goes on to explain.

From water stop to wine stop
“Usually in a race you have a water stop every 5k but with the Beaujolais marathon every 3k there is a wine stop because it is organised to celebrate the new wine harvest,” says Long with relish.

“You can eat your way round the course as well. There is bread and cheese everywhere, apricots, chocolate, charcuterie. People invite you into their front garden for glasses of the local wine. I did my slowest race ever. By a long shot.”

She also ran the Paris marathon in 2013 and her next trip is to the Brighton marathon in April.

“It is a reward to yourself. You don’t get fit by accident, you have to constantly make a decision that you are going to put the time in. There are plenty of times you are tired, it is raining, you might have a sniffle but you put on the gear and get out the front door. It is a carrot but it is the best kind of carrot there is.”

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