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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The Texans are moving in the wrong direction. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

1. This team started incredibly slow and outside of a couple of drives in the second half disappointed. The defense got worked by the Chargers' star players, and the offense sputtered too often. It was really a summary of the season up to this point which is to say inconsistency.

2. Davis Mills was shaky early. The first drive interception was tough to stomach. The pocket got messy as he tried to drive the ball and he floated one up there. It gave the Chargers an easy drive for seven points.

3. One of the early offensive mistakes erased a scoring opportunity. Kenyon Green got nailed for a holding call that erased one of the best passes and catches between Brandin Cooks and Davis Mills all season. The rookie’s mistake was compounded the very next play when the offense allowed Mills to be sacked. It was a 40-yard swing that led to a punt.

4. Another third down penalty led to a mishap for the Texans. Laremy Tunsil gets a false start on third down to make it third and 10. The shovel pass to Rex Burkhead goes for six yards and then the Texans botch the field goal. Back-to-back drives and third-down penalties affected the offense and ended with no points. That was all just in the first quarter!

5. The Texans were abysmal with short yardage in key spots yet again. In the second quarter, Pep Hamilton opted for a pass on fourth and one. Davis Mills never got the play off and was sacked. After the game, Mills said the team wanted to catch the Chargers off guard running when most expected a pass, but Rex Burkhead was the running back. It was again a situation, a key and critical moment, that the team trusted Burkhead over the more dynamic Dameon Pierce.

6. The Chargers were very chunky on offense against the Texans. There were 16 plays that went for at least ten yards for the Chargers of their 67 plays. Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler were fantastic for Los Angeles.

7. The pass rush was non-existent for the Texans. This was one of the more disappointing aspects of the day to consider the Chargers were playing a rookie right guard, their center is injured but playing, and the left tackle was a backup left tackle. Nothing seemed to get home on an injured Justin Herbert. The Texans recorded just two quarterback hits in the game.

8. The linebackers got worked again. This is the absolute weakest unit on the team right now. They look like they’re easily exploited by most opposing offenses.

9. It was a rough day for the rookie class of the Texans. Derek Stingley was handled by Mike Williams on multiple occasions in key spots. Kenyon Green allowed a big sack and had a holding penalty erase a huge play. Jalen Pitre was the target of some offensive success in the Chargers' passing game.

10. Not all the rookies had a bad day. Dameon Pierce is so much fun to watch. He has the chance to be a truly impactful player for this team. His 75-yard touchdown scamper gave the team some juice, and he constantly fights and gets extra yards when the ball is headed his way. He finished with 14 carries and six catches for 20 total touches.

11. The Texans need teams to help them stay in games, and even then, it is a challenge. The tough part about where the Texans are through four games is there are some positives to look at and point to, but not enough to say the team is surely headed in the right direction. There surely has to be some adjustment by the team when the season is where it is after nearly a quarter of the year. The current direction isn’t going to lead anywhere positive soon.

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