Let's Think Big, Real Big

5 International races that will make you crawl to the finish line...but are sooo worth it!

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com

I had been eyeing this one destination race for a few years. It is called Amazon Race Forest. Yeah, that's right. It is in the Amazon Rain Forest. Last week, I sat down and started doing some research of the logistics of the race. I'm looking at pictures of the jungle, sloths, and colorful frogs. Just as I'm getting really excited, I just so happened to jump to CNN and…..breaking news….Tarapoto, Peru was hit by a major earthquake. Needless to say, I'm looking for another race. I made a short list and did some research. Tell me what you think.

Bayon Temple at Angkor Wat

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Angkor Wat International Marathon

Siam Reap, Cambodia

December 8, 2019

In this amazing race, you can run among the magnificent ruins of the Khmer Empire including the famous Bayon Temple. The Angkor Wat International Marathon accommodates all fitness levels including walkers. Half marathons are available. The best way to enjoy this race is to buy as a vacation package. Many companies sell this package. It will include stops in Hanoi, Vietnam and Halong Bay before your run on Angkor Wat. Added bonus: Angkor Wat International Marathon benefits victims of landmines and HIV/AIDS. Take plenty of pictures!

Imagine this for a road block.

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The Big 5 Marathon

Krueger National Park, South Africa

June 20, 2020

This race is hosted by Albatros Marathon Adventures. The Big 5 Marathon combines a challenging marathon course with a full African Safari vacation. This course is hilly with various terrains like concrete and dirt roads and sand. You literally get to run with the Big 5 Game of Africa. That is rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion, and leopard plus other animals like zebra, giraffe, and antelope. This race is limited to keep you as intimate as possible with the game. Participants also enjoy safaris the week leading to the race. Only for the most adventurous runners!

Dracula's Castle

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Transylvania Marathon

Transylvania, Romania

May 2020

For all you Game of Thrones lovers out there, this race is for you. Located Northwest of Bucharest, Romania is the Transylvania Marathon that ends at Dracula's Castle. But, before you get there, you have to brave this ultra challenging mountain race. Pick your distance of a half, full, or ultra marathon. Either way, you will have to navigate through treacherous steep, elevation on road, dirt, and snow. One thing is for sure, you better be trained for this race. It is not for the faint-hearted.

Dram-matic scenery in this Scottish Race.

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Dramathon

Speyside, Scotland

October 19, 2019

Whenever I think of running a marathon, I think about hydration, water, maybe beer, but never Scotch. That is when I found the Dramathon. This race is amazing. It takes place in the Speyside region of Scotland with castles and rich farmland. You get to pass by the most pretigious scotch distilleries like Glen Farcglas, Cragganmore, the Balvenie on this grassy trail race. Choose from four distances: the Full Dram, the Half Dram, the Wee Dram, and the relay (the We Dram). The race ends with a scotch tasting at Glenfiddich Distillery.

Stairway to heaven in the Great Wall Marathon.

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Great Wall Marathon

May 16, 2020

The Great Wall Marathon is known as one of the world's most challenging marathons in the world. In fact, it is impossible to run the whole way through. There are many spots where the crowds bottle neck waiting for their turn to get through treacherous mountain steps. Be sure to include your stair workouts while training. Runners can expect to run up and down 5,164 steps before exploring the surrounding village. This race is sold as a vacation. Runners enjoy sight-seeing in Beijing and the Terra Cotta Warriors.

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Correa knows it's time for his payday. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Rangers made a big splash over the weekend when they agreed to terms on a 7-year $175 million contract with infielder Marcus Semien. Apparently, that was just the tip of the iceberg. According to multiple reports, the Rangers have also added arguably the most coveted player in free agency, Corey Seager. Seager and the Rangers have agreed to a massive 10-year $325 million contract.

Before the Seager news broke, many were starting to wonder if teams would be willing to hand out 10-year deals for over 300 million dollars with the lockout just around the corner. Now we have our answer, and Carlos Correa has to be a very happy man to see how the market is shifting. The Rangers not only added two incredible players, but they also made it pretty much a certainty that Correa will either leave Houston, or the Astros will have to sign him to a long-term $300 million deal, which is not likely based on their stance on multi-year big money contracts.

The Rangers aren't the only team in the AL West making blockbuster moves. The Mariners agreed to terms with 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray on Monday. Ray and Seattle agreed to a 5-year, $115 million contract.

The Angels joined in on the action a couple of weeks ago when they signed Noah Syndergard to a 1-year 21 million dollar deal.

Clearly, the AL West is on notice that they're going to have to make big changes if they want to compete with the Houston Astros who have dominated the AL recently with 5 straight ALCS appearances and 3 trips to the World Series. With Correa likely out the door in Houston, these teams might believe this is a perfect time to make a run at the division and finally knock off the Astros. Only time will tell if these deals will work, and the Astros look to have a terrific team this season whether Correa returns or not.

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