The Marathon du Medoc is run, or maybe that should be lurched, around 30 or so of the Gironde’s chateaux and vineyards. Twenty-three drink stations en route serve regional wine, and food stops offer local produce including foie gras, oysters, entrecote and cheese. This fantastically bibulous event used to be France’s well-kept secret but now overseas bon viveurs with a little running problem have cottoned on with a vengeance. Get your entry in early.
The Dublin Marathon takes place in October so you’ve got the best part of a year to train for this one. It has a biggish field of 10,000, at least half of them from overseas, drawn by the post-race fun of being in one of the partiest cities in Europe. The route goes through Dublin’s Georgian streets and crowd support from the locals is a dream.
The Himalayan Kingdom Marathon, also known less majestically as the Bhutan International Marathon, is a toughie set in the mystical, mountainous kingdom between Tibet and India. You’ll get a two-day trek complete with horses laden with kit to help you acclimatise to the altitude. This is not for the unadventurous – or the slow: it will take you at least an hour longer to complete than your usual time.
Did you miss out on a London place? Here’s a great April alternative: Paris. Try not to be so exhausted that you can’t appreciate the route’s sheer gorgeousness: the Tuileries, the Tour d’Eiffel and, to ease the agonies of the last few miles, the aesthetic pleasure of the Bois de Boulogne. But don’t look for the crowd support you get in London. Parisians sit at pavement cafés breakfasting on croissants and coffee with complete indifference as you pant past. But that’s the French for you.
The Midnight Sun Marathon does what it says on the tin. Taking place in Norway, almost 70°N, at the end of June, it starts at 8.30pm from the lovely city of Tromso and is a run in broad daylight in the middle of the night. Plenty of striking sights to see before and after, including the Arctic Cathedral. A glorious visual experience.