Make your next European destination a marathon

Did you, like me, eat way too many cookies and other treats in the period running up to Christmas and into the New Year? Are you now thinking about getting fit in the year ahead? Does the thought of completing a marathon or a half-marathon this spring serve as inspiration for starting a training regimen in earnest?

If so, there are no shortage of running events, both close to home and those that would entail a journey, taking place in the months to come. If your resolution for the new year called for plenty of exercise and getting out to see more of Europe, why not make a travel date to complete a marathon, half-marathon, or shorter run? Barring your own participation, a friend who’s been training in earnest would certainly appreciate your support on his or her big day. Here are some competitions in the first half of 2012:

Jan. 22: Gran Canaria Maratón 2012. First held in 2010, the race is still working to attract a major following. Sign up before Jan. 13 and pay 55 euros for the full marathon or 45 euros for the half. There’s also a 10 k run; sign up costs 20 euros. Gran Canaria is a destination reachable on some of the budget carriers, so maybe it’s not such a distant dream for next year?

Jan. 29: Napoli City Marathon. The website is difficult to understand as the English text is through an automated translation service, but the fee for Italian athletes and foreign residents in the country appears to be 35 euros prior to Jan. 20. It also appears possible to register at the marathon center on Jan. 27 and 28 for 40 euros. Athletes lacking a FIDAL insurance card pay an additional 5 euros (this is the case for many races throughout Italy). Foreign athletes pay 50 euros prior to Jan. 20 and 60 euros thereafter.

Feb. 18: South Devon makes Event 5 of the Coastal Trail Series, seven races that run throughout the cooler months and take place in various extreme yet stunning locations throughout the U.K. If you miss this one, don’t worry- Endurancelife offers numerous sporting events for those who embrace physical activity and the great outdoors.

 Feb. 19: Seville City Marathon. A flat course through an urban environment. Registering early would really pay off as the entry fee is 21 euros until Jan. 31, 42 euros Feb. 1-15, and 63 euros Feb. 16-18.

Feb. 19: The Giulietta&Romeo Half Marathon in Verona, Italy, leads you on a course through the city’s UNESCO Heritage landmarks. Through Jan. 31, pay 23 euros to register; from Feb. 1-15 the fee jumps to 28 euros. In keeping with the run’s theme of love, couples can register Jan. 1-Feb. 15 for just 30 euros.

Feb. 26: 2012 Land Rover Malta Marathon, Half Marathon & Walkathon. The Endo half-marathon is an event geared to walkers. Hurry --- the marathon costs 35 euros for nonresidents and registration closes Jan. 15.

March 4: Placentia Marathon. If you run this northern Italian race, you’ll be supporting UNICEF. The event offers a marathon, a half-marathon, and an ultra-half-marathon with a 30 k course. The marathon entry fee is 30 euros before Feb. 1; the half and ultra-half are both 20 euros before that date. You’ll need to pay additional FIDAL insurance fees as well.

March 4: Treviso Marathon. Roads will be closed to traffic to accommodate this run, which takes place north of Venice, Italy. Sign up for 38 euros before Feb. 17; it’s 48 euros Feb. 18-25. Figure on an additional 7 euros for the FIDAL card.

March 11: Brescia Art Marathon. Choose between a marathon, half-marathon, or a 10 k. The races take place roughly between Milan and Verona, Italy. It will cost 25 euros to register now through Jan. 15, 30 euros Jan. 16-March 1, and 35 euros March 2-10.
March 11: ABN AMRO CPC Run The Hague. A half-marathon known far and wide, a world record was set here in 2007. The route runs through the streets of The Hague, Netherlands, to the seaside town of Scheveningen. 20.50 euros to register prior to Feb. 15 or 23 euros thereafter.

March 11: ABN AMRO CPC Run The Hague. A half-marathon known far and wide, a world record was set here in 2007. The route runs through the streets of The Hague out to the seaside town of Scheveningen. Pay 20.50 euros to register prior to Feb. 15 or 23 euros thereafter.

March 18: Maratona di Roma. The course passes by such landmarks as the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Piazza Venezia, St. Peter's Square, the Vatican Walls, Piazza Navona, the Spanish Steps, and the Trevi Fountain --- what could beat that? Registration costs 70 euros through Feb. 1 and 80 euros Feb. 2-March 6, the registration deadline.

March 25: Zurich Marató de Barcelona. Yet more stunning scenery awaits, along with 40 “animation points” offering music, food stands and dancing at this event in Barcelona, Spain. Over 15,000 participants registered in 2011. It will cost 60 euros to do so between now and Jan. 29 and 70 euros thereafter.

March 25: Stramilano: This event combines a half-marathon, a 10 k and a 5 k. It attracts tens of thousands of participants and is billed as one of the world’s fastest races. Online registration starts at 10 euros.

March 25: Lisbon Half Marathon: with an expected 30,000 entrants. Last year Tadese Zersenay of Eritrea finished in 00:58:30- can you beat that? Register by March 23 at a cost of 40 euros for this event in Lisbon, Portugal.

April 1: Freiburg Marathon. In Germany’s Baden region, the route is livened up by 42 bands. About 10,000 runners are anticipated. Register before March 18 and pay 53 euros for the marathon or 42 euros for the half-marathon. The timing chip’s an additional 6 euros.

April 1: Marathon de Cheverny. Through the vineyards and past chateaux of the Loire Valley in France, the race offers a pit stop for wine. Cost is 35 euros for sign ups through Feb. 10; pay 40 euros thereafter.

April 5: North Pole Marathon. The trip of a lifetime to be sure, but as you'd need to purchase a package deal coming it at around 11,900 euros, start saving now!

April 15: Marathon de Paris. One of the five biggest marathons in the world, the 2012 event is already sold out, unless you book a trip through one of the event’s authorized travel agencies, a list of which you’ll find on the event website. So maybe all is not lost?

 April 15: ABM AMRO Marathon Rotterdam: The course is a fast one, so fast that three world records have been set here. In 2011, Kenyan athlete Wilson Chebet finished with the world's best time of the season. Over 22,000 participants started last year, the world’s most elite athletes among them. Pay 70 euros prior to March 13. There are 5 and 10 k runs as well.

April 22: Neapolis Half Marathon. You must register by April 22 to participate in this Naples, Italy-based event. Foreign athletes pay 20 euros before March 31, 25 euros before April 15, and 30 euros thereafter. There’s also a 5-euro fee for those lacking a FIDAL card.

April 22: 8th Marathon Deutsche Weinstraße (German Wine Road) 2012. This race starts in Bockenheim, the northernmost point on the German Wine Road and is convenient for those in Kaiserslautern and Mannheim. The course is through rolling hills and vineyards. Cool down with a Riesling-doused sponge. Cost is 40 euros for the full marathon and 28 euros for the half when you sign up before the cut-off date of March 15. Places were still available as of this writing, although the race is limited to 1,500 racers in the marathon and 2,000 racers in the half.

April 22: Maratona St. Antonio. The race winds through some seven municipalities before ending in Padua, Italy. The city hosts four additional short runs over the same weekend the marathon takes place. Registration fees for men are 35 euros until Jan. 31; 40 euros Feb. 1-March 31, and 50 euros April 1-15. Women pay 35 euros through April 15. For the half, pay 20 euros through Jan. 31; 25 euros Feb. 1-March 31, and 30 euros April 1-15. There’s an additional 5 euros for the FIDAL card.

April 22: Virgin London Marathon: The 2012 ballot for entry is closed, but other possibilities would be to run for charity with an aim to raise funds for a good cause, or to come in as an overseas entry through an approved tour operator.

April 29: Haspa Marathon Hamburg. The course begins along the famed street of sin, the Reeperbahn. You’ll be cheered on by tens of thousands of spectators. Registration fee is 70 euros.

April 29: Metro Group Marathon Düsseldorf. The course takes you along the Rhine River banks in the city. Last year, 13,000 participants from 76 countries showed up. 60 euros through March 18 and 70 euros thereafter.

April 29: Rotary Shakespeare Marathon and Half Marathon. Set in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, the course is mostly flat but former participants mention a couple of rough hills. Participation is capped at 3,700 entries, so register early. It reached capacity by late February last year. Fee for overseas entries is 29 pounds.

May 6: Three Forts Marathon. This run in West Sussex, England, is referred to as “The Tough One” with mixed terrain and climbs of 3,450 feet. The half-marathon offers a climb of 1,450 feet. Entry fee is 20 pounds in advance or 25 pounds on race day.

May 6: bavisela 2012. The course, described as flat and fast, runs along the sea in Trieste, Italy, so you’ll seldom lack a view. Pay 38 euros for the marathon prior to Jan. 31, 48 euros Feb. 1-March 14 and 58 euros March 15 through April 30. The half costs 25 euros before Jan. 31, 30 euros Feb. 1-March 14 and 35 euros March 15 through April 30. If bibs have not sold out, registration will also be possible at the Marathon Expo May 3-5.

May 5-6: Geneva Marathon for UNICEF. You’ll experience Alpine vistas, a run around Lake Geneva and a course wending its way by the city’s most famous landmarks. 90 Swiss francs (about $95), of which 5 percent is donated to UNICEF. The half-marathon takes place May 6 and costs 60 Swiss francs.

May 6: Novo Nordisk Gutenberg Marathon Mainz. The course is comprised of two rounds around the Altstadt (old town) and other areas of the city of Mainz, Germany, including stretches along the Rhine. Registration must take place by March 1 and costs 62 euros.

May 6: Heilbronner-Trollinger Marathon. This German city outside Stuttgart offers a course through vineyards producing some of the country’s best reds. 35 euros for the full marathon before Jan. 31; 40 euros between Feb. 1 and March 31, and 45 euros April 1-18. Registration for the half by those same dates costs 25, 30 and 35 euros, respectively. Late registration is possible on May 5 and 6, at which time you’ll pay 50 euros for the marathon or 40 for the half. Register by April 18 to get the free official event shirt.

May 6: Salzburg Marathon: The course consists of two loops and has a maximum vertical drop of 10 meters in Salzburg, Austria. There’s also a half-marathon, a 10 k and a 5 k. Last year the event attracted more than 5,800 participants from 54 nations. 45 euros for the marathon before March 3; 50 euros from March 4 to April 29, and 65 euros for late registration. The half will set you back 33, 38 and 48 euros within those same time frames.

May 13: Maasmarathon: This race starts and finishes in the main market square of Visé, Netherlands, runs along the Meuse River, and takes you through the city of Maastricht. Proceeds go to support SOS Children’s Villages. Register online before May 7 and pay 35 euros or on site for 40 euros. The half-marathon costs 13 euros online before May 7 and 17 euros thereafter.

May 13: Volkswagen Prague Marathon: The race starts and finishes on the famous Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic, while the route takes you along the Vltava River and through various neighborhoods. This event will close registration when maximum capacity is reached.  70 euros. (The Hervis Prague Half Marathon takes place in Prague on March 31 and costs 50 euros.)

May 12: Marathon des vins de Blaye: 14 castles with live music appeals, along with more than 20 spots for wine tasting and a red carpet finish. Beware: The course runs through vineyards and is hilly. For the first time in 2012, there will also be a 10 k route. 37 euros before March 31, 42 euros April 1-May 12, or 52 euros up to May 12. The 10 k costs 8 euros up to May 11 and 10 euros for registration on May 12.

May 19: ING Europe Marathon Luxembourg: Here’s a marathon with a twist --- it starts at dusk and ends in an illuminated arena. A samba carnival held the same weekend guarantees a lively atmosphere. Participation is limited to 8,000. Through Jan. 31, pay 49 euros; Feb. 1-April 29 it’s 59 euros. Registration on the day, if space remains available, costs 67 euros.

May 20: Nukredit Copenhagen Marathon: Enjoy a flat and fast course, largely traffic-free and teeming with spectators. Only a full-length marathon is run on this date. Entry fee is 600 Danish kroner, about $105, payable online by credit card.

May 20: E.ON Mitte Kassel Marathon:  Kassel, in the north of Hessen, Germany, offers a marathon, half-marathon, a power-walking half-marathon, an 8 k walking and a Nordic walking event. 45 euros for the marathon through Feb. 28 or 55 euros for registration between March 1 and April 30. Registration on site is also possible May 17-19, for which there’s an additional 10-euro late fee.

May 20: Nordea Riga Marathon: With 16,350 runners from 45 countries in 2011, you wouldn’t call this a small event. The course winds along the Daugava River and is billed as traffic-free. Save for the bridges, it’s also pretty flat. Pay the equivalent of about 28.50 euros to register through March 15; 36 euros for entries received between March 16 and April 30, or 43 euros between May 5 and 17. Half-marathon costs 17, 21.50 and 28.50 euros respectively on those same dates.

May 20: iWelt Marathon Würzburg: Over the course of the race, participants can change from the half-marathon to the full one or vice-versa. This race serves as a qualifier to the Boston Marathon. 48 euros to run the full marathon, 38 euros for the half.

May 27: Edinburgh Marathon: Organizers note that this course was voted the fastest marathon in the U.K. by Runners World in 2008. The race in this Scottish city ends outside of the city and you’ll need to make arrangements to get yourself back there. 60 pounds for the marathon and 34.50 pounds for the half when you register from overseas.

June 2: Asics Stockholm Marathon: This marathon is so popular it reached its maximum capacity of 21,000 by Dec. 1, 2011. Better luck next year.

June 3: Marathon du Vignoble d’Alsace: Vineyards, costumes and a Spätzele party for the marathoners give this run in Mutzig and the surrounding villages its own unique flavor, not to mention stops along the route offering fine wines and delicacies --- one stop even offers Riesling and escargot. 40 euros to register through March 31; 50 euros April 1-June 1, or 60 euros on site for the marathon; the half costs 16, 19 and 25 euros respectively on those same dates; and a 10 k costs 10, 12 or 15 euros in that date order.

June 10: Eifel Marathon: A marathon well off the beaten path, in Germany’s Eifel region, and not overly crowded --- there were 169 runners last year. 30 euros for the full and 15 euros for the half. 

June 30: Midnight Sun Marathon: The run takes place in the Arctic city of Tromsø, Norway, located at 70°N. Even if the weather’s lousy, you’ll be running in light, as the sun doesn’t set there this time of year. Pay 650 Norwegian kroner (about $110) through Feb. 29; 750 kroner March 1 through April 30, 850 kroner May 5-June 19 and 950 krone after June 20, provided the limit of 1,000 runners has not been reached. 

For more inspiration, see marathonguide.com. Have you ever run a European marathon or half-marathon? How did it go?


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