Runner's Footprints

Runner's Footprints

Monday, March 1, 2021

Top 10 International Races

We long daydream for our perfect vacation. What that means for each individual differs from mood to mood and circumstance to circumstance. There are moments where I want to escape to the depths of the forest, jungle, or mountain peaks and then other times where I enjoy exploring the tasty cultural cuisine the city has to offer. Some of my best trips have been when I give myself the time to exhale and enjoy the moment, whether it be in a bustling city or serene landscape. Here are my most memorable international ROAD races I would recommend on your next spin around the globe. 

Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
Race Date: February
2016 Race Temps: 90F, 90% humidity

As the capital and providence of Jakarta, you can enjoy the metropolis, openness of the seas, and suburbs in the outskirts. Proclaimed to be one of the world's cities with highest traffic similar to Manila and Mexico City, I visited Jakarta to host a coaching clinic for triathletes, help launch a coffee product, and enjoy a local large running event with the warm community. Be ready for some heat and warm, welcoming locals alike. 

Location: Legazpi City, Philippines
Race Date: August 2015
2015 Race Temps: 99F, 100% humidity
2015 Results: 1st US, 4th FOA

Reclaimed as the most scenic, challenging race of the Philippines, Mt Mayon is a tropical paradise for any traveler comparable to if not more than Hawaii and Costa Rica. Beaming in biodiversity of green lush, food, culture, and kind locals, the triathlon will begin in crystal clear water adorned with coral reef below then continue through the city's hills. The first and only triathlon I did without a wetsuit due to heat. Get ready to SUFFER in the high heat and humidity. Having the locals and children cheer your name as an internationally known triathlete, the Filipino community are a favorite. 

8. Bermuda Marathon 
Location: Hampton, Bermuda Island
Race Date: 1/18/09
2009 Finishers: 76
2009 Race Temps: 60F
2009 Results: 3:58:11, 22nd total

Take a vacation during Bermuda’s low season located off the east coast and enjoy the island’s two-loop course as it hugs the perimeter along the shoreline. Locals are friendly and welcoming. The event offers the Bermuda Triangle Challenge if you're interested in racing three different distances on three consecutive days. 

Location: Havana, Cuba
Race Date: October
2017 Race temps: 80F, 90% humidity, HOT
2017 Results: 3:54:55, 14th FOA

A destination I always wanted to visit.  For my father's 59th birthday, we made it a trip to visit and as his ultimate race trip planner, I found an affordable AirBnB, amazing spots to dine and experience all the music, culture, and food. My dad was a child again revisiting all the history of Cuba with the 1950s car culture. The two-loop course runs through the city and oceanfront with the majority running the half marathon -- we learned this the hard way. The second loop is lonely and mostly international runners (the locals know better) as it was exposed, 
extremely  humid creating a huge positive split. I would highly recommend it overall and would return for the half marathon next time. 
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Race Date: August
2019 Finishers: 40,000
2019 Race temps: 80F, 40% humidity
2019 Results: 3:55:00

In 2019, I partnered with JLab Audio to launch a product and event during race weekend and was able to visit the city, meet wonderful people, and enjoy delectable cuisine. The course is rolling hills point to point at 7,300' altitude. Given I was out of shape in July/August 2019 as my off season after a very heavy coaching season in Winter/Spring 2018-2019, I was humbled. It is a large field so you will never be alone on the course. The latino energy of the spectators makes your heart inspired.

5. Barcelona Marathon
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Race Date: 3/7/10
2010 Finishers: 4,054
2010 Race Temps: 45F/60F
2010 Results: 3:37:52, 38th total

A cherished trip memory because I was able to combine it with visiting my family in Spain and it was the last marathon I ran with my mom. I cannot say enough how wonderful Barcelona is for its cuisine, culture, history, and kindly natured locals. The course meanders through many historical sights. Enjoy a paella de Mariscos, great bottle of wine, and make it a vacation to remember. I dropped tears of joy as I finished through the fountains and museums of Barca.

Location: Quito, Ecuador
Race Date: September
Race Temps: 50s, marshmallow clouds

As the capital city, Quito is nestled in the sublime Andes Mountains at 9,000' elevation. With rolling hills everywhere, you will be challenged with thin air and blessed with warm energy of Ecuadorian people. Aid stations are every 5K with individual closed packets for hydration-- a typical feature of international Latino events. Embrace the energy of the culture as you see many locals push through winds, altitude, and hills.  I ran this for a couple years as my birthday race with my dad until it ended. Instead, Quito 15K continues, which is a very popular long running event drawing runners from all over South America and world. I highly recommend the Quito 15K for the energy, great organization, and large field size. As our family is in Ecuador, we usually extend our trip, hike up to 15,000', and enjoy the humble life of Quito. With my Incan blood, I hope to return soon again. 

3. Great Wall of China Marathon
Location: Beijing, China
Race Date: 5/22/16
2016 Finishers: 2,500
2016 Race Temps: 85F, 80% humidity
2016 Results: 5:07:35, 25th FOA

With over 70 countries represented in the field, the marathon, half and 10K draws in 2,500 from around the world to participate in one of the most historic landmarks of the world: the Great Wall of China. Completed as my 127th marathon, this was my 3rd most difficult marathon (after Inca Trail and Pikes Peak) that forced hands on knees crawling up the concrete block stairs in blistering heat. The marathon has over 5,000' vertical gain with 5,164 steps in the heat, humidity of May. A memorable experience to share with my dad running the marathon and mom running the half. 
Location: Berlin, Germany
Race Date: September
2019 Finishers: 45,000
2019 Race Temps: 57F rainy
2019 Results: 3:44:32

One of the most historical international experiences for road races. The field is massive, energy is high, and is nonstop from start to finish. You will be accompanied by runners from start to finish pushing for their goals in this world major as you run through amazing historical sites of Berlin. It was an honor to experience this for the first time in 2019, even if it was a downpour the entire time. As a sustainability race, it was difficult to get to my gear, get a post race wrap, and find my post race location as a foreigner. Learn through my mistakes: make the extra purchases and ensure you have it all translated beforehand in your phone in order to orient yourself post race.

1. Rome Marathon
Location: Rome, Italy
Race Date: 3/22/09
2009 Finishers: 11,010
2009 Race Temps: 39F/55F
2009 Results: 4:01:21, 25th marathon

My favorite international road marathon. I love everything about Italy. Everything. Passing through over 20 tourist sites in Rome, some course highlights are running through the Vatican City, Pantheon, Fountain de Trevi, and notably the start and finish are at the Coliseum. The entire run is as majestic as they get and listening to the spectators cheer in Italian makes the experience unforgettable. It was the best pizza, best wine, best city, best gelato, and best race vacation I can ask for. After the marathon, I took a tour via train of the northern cities Florence, Milan, and Venice. My only regret was not staying for several weeks. 


Hope you enjoyed my tour of favorite international road races. Feel free to enjoy my other top lists below and thank you for reading! 

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