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Article: 3 marathons to run at least once in Europe (and 3 cities to discover)

3 marathons à courir au moins une fois en Europe (et 3 villes à découvrir)
Marathons & Semi

3 marathons to run at least once in Europe (and 3 cities to discover)

Running a marathon in a foreign city, especially one you know little or nothing about, is an opportunity both to take on a major running challenge and to discover a city over a long weekend or a short week. If the trip is organised with family or friends, it's also a small adventure to discover a new city, another country and another culture. We have selected three marathons to run in Europe while discovering three great and beautiful European cities in a unique way. We've listed them in alphabetical order, but you're free of course to run them in any order you like if you decide to.


For our first European city to discover while running a marathon, we are heading for Amsterdam and the Netherlands. The Amsterdam marathon has one special feature: it finishes in the Olympic stadium that was used for the 1928 Olympic Games. If you dream at least once in your life of entering a stadium as the marathon runners do during the Olympic Games, this is the perfect opportunity. You'll pass under the stands in a tunnel and arrive on the track in the middle of the stadium. With a bit of imagination, this will be the perfect way to get a feel for what the Olympians experience when they enter the stadium at the end of the Olympic marathon.

As well as this memorable finish, the Amsterdam Marathon will also allow you to discover what is the charm not only of the city of Amsterdam but also of the Netherlands: the famous canals. Although the marathon isn't run along the best-known canals in the centre of the city, it will take you along a large canal just outside the city for several kilometres before retracing your steps and heading back towards the city. Towards the end of the Marathon, you will also pass through the famous Vondelpark in the centre of Amsterdam before heading towards the Olympic Stadium.

One of the advantages of the Amsterdam marathon is that the course is on the whole fairly flat. The only difficulties are the bridge crossings, particularly the one over the Amstel, the river that runs through the city. Once you've crossed the finish line at the Olympic Stadium, the next day you'll have plenty of time to explore the city, particularly the old centre and its canals. I recommend taking a cruising boat. It's a superb way of discovering the city and its very typical houses along the canals, and what's more, you won't have to walk. The day after a marathon, there's nothing better than not having to walk for miles.


For the second European city to be discovered while running a marathon, this time we head south to Barcelona. The Barcelona Marathon is a unique opportunity to run along Barcelona's wide avenues, skirt the Mediterranean Sea and zigzag towards the end of the marathon in the city's historic centre.

The marathon route also passes very close to the Nou Camp, F.C. Barcelona's stadium. It's a shame we can't go inside or through it during the marathon, as it would give us a chance to see the view that the players have of this legendary stadium from the pitch.  The other famous monument to be seen during the marathon, and perhaps the best-known in Barcelona, is the Sagrada Familia, the basilica designed by Gaudi in 1882.

The Barcelona Marathon takes place in March and the temperature in Barcelona in March varies between 10 and 17 degrees Celcius. It's ideal for running a marathon. It's also a great way to celebrate the end of winter and, if the sun is out, to enjoy a weekend by the sea to start ‘living again’ after the winter months. The day after the marathon, weather permitting, you can take advantage of the presence of the sea by relaxing on the city's beaches near the port and having a coffee or enjoying bocadillos or patatas fritas while watching the sea.


Last stop on this trip around Europe in search of marathons and cities to discover: Venice and its marathon. If you think of Venice, you might wonder how it's possible to run a marathon in Venice. Venice is only a few kilometres long.

In fact, the Venice Marathon does end in Venice, but it starts inland from the ‘Terra Ferma’ or 'solid ground' in the town of Strà, which lies to the west of Venice. The route passes through the town of Mestre, and one of the difficulties is actually running across the Liberty Bridge, a 4-kilometre bridge linking Venice to the coast. 4 kilometres of straight stretch that can be a little monotonous and, above all, never seems to end. But after 4 kilometres, you finally reach Venice.

There are still a few kilometres to go in Venice after the Liberty Bridge, but above all 14 bridges to cross on the way to Saint Mark's Square. And 14 bridges at the end of a marathon requires extra effort, which we could easily do without. But that's also what makes the city so legendary. Besides, Venice's bridges will seem insurmountable the next day or two if you decide to stay a few days after the marathon to enjoy the city and visit it. With heavy legs from running a marathon the day before, Venice's arched bridges become real obstacles, almost mountains to climb. The other option, and perhaps the better one, is to take a gondola to see Venice, this time without any effort.

Amsterdam, Barcelona and Venice: three great marathons in three beautiful European cities that are well worth the adventure. A great programme and a unique way of combining a passion for running with the desire to discover beautiful cities in three different European countries.

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