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.

So, do you think you are up for one of these runcations? Better hurry up and sign up because they sell out quick. See you at the finish line!

Time to Start Training

5 bucket list races that make 'Merica great

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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. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

Last week, I wrote about some of the world's best bucket list marathon and half marathons. But, what about here in the United States? We got some great places to explore on foot like our National Parks, Wine Country, and let's not forget our southern most state, Hawaii. So, I've made a list of marathons and half marathons to honor some of America's best bucket list destinations.

Red Rock trails​

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Zion National Park Marathon

Zion National Park, Utah

February 20, 2020

It's a steady climb to the road to Zion. This race starts and ends in Springdale, Utah. Runners travel along the Watchman trail to carefully arrive at the mouth of Zion Canyon. Runners can stop and take in the breath-taking views of of cold snow canyons and snow capped cliffs. Better hurry and register because this race sells out every year.

Race fit for a Disney Princess

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Disney Wine and Dine Marathon

Orlando, Florida

November 3, 2020

This popular race takes place on Walt Disney World Resort. Runners get to run wild through the theme park. Make sure to bring your camera for this novelty race. It is perfect for the Mickey and Donald Duck lovers. Stop and take your picture with your favorite Disney characters every mile. This marathon is great to walk and trot to the finish line which is a food and wine festival fit for a prince…or…..princess or……a fairy………or a cricket.

Get hitched on this marathon course.

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Rock and Roll Las Vegas Marathon

Las Vegas, Nevada

November 16-17, 2020

The Rock and Roll race series really out did themselves with this one. Have you ever wanted to dress as Elvis or a Cirque Du Soleil character, listen to your favorite rock band, and run down the Las Vegas Strip at night? Me, too! This race is definitely on my bucket list. There is so much packed in that it takes an entire weekend. This marathon is literally a night race down the Las Vegas Strip. You get to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of Vegas. You can even get married on course at Mile 3. Bands play at every mile of the race to keep you pumped up. A Rock and Roll race would not be right if it didn't start with a pre-race performance from headliner Kesha. Can I say #StripAtNight?

Run the rolling hills of wine.​

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Napa Valley Half Marathon

Napa Valley, California

March 1, 2020

This is known as the "biggest little marathon in the west." This picturesque course starts at the Silverado Trail from Calistoga and ends in Napa Valley. Runners run past the vineyards and wineries. It is the perfect tour of wine country. This race is not just wine. This road race is a Boston Qualifier. You will truly want to Run.Sip.Savor.

Fun in the sun.

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Honolulu Marathon

Honolulu, Ohau

December 8, 2019

Run in paradise in our southern most state. Sandy beaches, tropical flowers, and palm trees. Kick off the weekend with a luau complete with male and female hula dancers. The 5am start is no hardship with a spectacular fireworks show. The run up Diamond Head Crator is a challenge, but well worth it. You get to experience the laid-back attitude of Hawaiians. It's come one, come all for this race. Everyone and their mama, grandpa, whoever else comes out. There is no time limit or limit of participants. Fun in the sun.

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