As working turns into extra fashionable right here, extra locals are occurring ‘runcations’, combining participation in marathons with holidays overseas. By Bryna Singh
Going for abroad marathons – and taking a vacation on the identical time – is turning into a factor. Photo: maridav / 123rf.com
The previous couple of kilometres of a marathon are sometimes a blur of ache and even the ultimate few hundred metres can really feel like without end to an exhausted runner.
Running right into a stadium full of some 50,000 spectators cheering 1 on, although? That may give an individual the much-needed push to the end line.
Such a hero’s reception greeted Ms Jeanette Wang, 35, in April this yr, when she participated within the Pyongyang Marathon.
Taking place every year, normally in April, it’s a fashionable race within the marathon holidays market as a result of it combines a go to to closely- guarded North Korea with a run that begins and finishes in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Stadium.
Ms Wang, who’s senior digital content material supervisor in an funding agency, says: “For those few hours of that race, I felt like an Olympic athlete.”
Everything else on the journey was as a lot of a spotlight, because the tour itinerary noticed her go to one of the fashionable malls there, have drinks at an area bar and go to the demilitarised zone, or DMZ. “It was a chance to observe this closed nation with my own eyes,” she says.
Other than Pyongyang, she has run marathons in cities akin to Perth in Australia, Boston and San Francisco within the United States and Queenstown in New Zealand.
She has additionally carried out ultra-marathons – something longer than the standard marathon size of 42km – in locations akin to Mount Fuji in Japan and the Alpine village of Verbier in Switzerland.
She is amongst a rising variety of Singaporeans who go on “run-cations” alone, with buddies or with members of the family.
To them, the advantages are apparent: the novelty of working in a unique local weather or an opportunity to discover new locations or expertise acquainted cities in a unique gentle.
Travel specialists say this pattern has picked up steam in the previous few years, in tandem with the burgeoning working scene right here.
The 2XU Compression Run right here has grown from 9,000 individuals in 2011 to 30,000 individuals in its version in April this yr. Meanwhile, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon has grown from 6,000 runners in its first version in 2002 to a mean of about 50,000 runners a yr lately.
Mr Geoff Meyer, 48, managing director of Ironman Asia, which organises the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, says working is without doubt one of the hottest sports activities right here and he has seen Singaporeans travelling “more and more for run-cations” lately.
Travel company Flight Centre Singapore began selling marathon vacation packages in 2015.
A spokesman says bookings for these packages have doubled for the reason that journeys went in the marketplace.
At least 3 different native tour firms have began providing marathon vacation packages lately too.
Usually, businesses assist settle pre-race logistics akin to race registration, lodging and transport. Where they differ is within the marathon locations and kinds.
Some provide journeys to the six World Marathon Majors – within the cities of New York, Chicago, Boston, Berlin, London and Tokyo.
Others provide non-standard races that take runners via Unesco World Heritage Sites and throughout scenic routes, difficult terrains, mountains and deserts. (Also read: This Dog Did a Half Marathon… And Came in Seventh)
Flight Centre, for instance, provides packages for the Great Wall Marathon in China, the Angkor Wat Marathon in Cambodia and the Petra Desert Marathon in Jordan.
Local sports activities tour company Athletes’ Journey organises excursions to 4 out of the six World Marathon Majors, in addition to to non-standard marathons, such because the Thunder Dragon Marathon in Bhutan, which permits runners to absorb the pure surroundings and run previous iconic landmarks.
Athletes’ Journey co-founder David Tay, 58, says he normally organises sell-out excursions to the Marathon Majors held in Tokyo, Berlin and London. The company shall be including extra sports activities excursions subsequent yr.
Local journey company Travel Wander, which was arrange final August, began providing “running holidays” this yr, which its co-founder Sheryl Lim, 40, says are “soft adventures”.
Besides the same old marathons, her firm additionally takes folks to extra unique places, together with packages to the Athens Classic Marathon in Greece, the Sun Moon Lake Marathon in Taiwan and the DaNang International Marathon in Vietnam.
Internationally, varied governments are tapping marathons to spice up tourism, says Ms Alicia Seah, 53, journey company Dynasty Travel’s director of selling communications.
Since 2014, Dynasty Travel has been the unique journey agent for the Korea Tourism Organisation to advertise 4 of South Korea’s marathons – held in Seoul, Gyeongju, Chuncheon and Jeju.
Since final yr, the company has additionally been working with the Macao Government Tourism Office to organise marathon packages.
This yr, Dynasty Travel additionally launched a bundle to coincide with the Gold Coast Airport Marathon in Australia.
Ms Seah says that family and friends members of runners are beginning to tag alongside for such journeys for “family bonding and friendship building”.
Public servant Yim Pui Fun, 57, went on one in all Dynasty Travel’s marathon vacation packages to South Korea with 3 feminine buddies final yr. She ran the complete course of the Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Marathon, whereas her 3 buddies did the 5km course.
Although this was her 36th marathon, it was the primary time she was doing it as a part of a vacation bundle.
“It was so convenient. Dynasty Travel did all the arrangements for me. I didn’t have to do anything except turn up,” she says.
“It was also very exciting that my friends took part. They usually say no when I encourage them to join. They prefer to just wait at the finish line to cheer for me and then we head off to shop and eat together.”
Here are 5 marathon vacation locations to think about.
ATHENS CLASSIC MARATHON IN GREECE
This marathon is steeped in historical past as a result of it’s primarily based on the traditional story of a army courier’s fateful run to Athens, the capital of Greece. According to legend, the messenger, Pheidippides, ran from the city of Marathon to Athens in 490BC to announce the information that the Greeks had defeated the Persian invaders. He then collapsed and died. This marathon’s course covers the identical floor that he ran and ends in Athens’ Panathenaic Stadium, the place the primary trendy Olympic Games was held in 1896.
After the marathon, runners can keep within the capital for sightseeing or deal with themselves to a Greek island getaway.
Local tour company Travel Wander has packages to this marathon.
PETRA DESERT MARATHON IN JORDAN
Petra Desert marathon in Jordan. PHOTO: FLIGHT CENTRE
Set within the historic metropolis of Petra, a Unesco World Heritage Site, this marathon provides beautiful views throughout a desert panorama.
Runners will be capable of see mountainside carvings, unbelievable rock formations, caves and historic tombs.
At 1 level, the route goes uphill to a mountain ridge for a 5km stretch. At the peak of this ascent, runners will get a view of the race route.
After the marathon, runners can lengthen their journey to discover Jordan, do a Bible land tour or take a dip within the Dead Sea.
Tour company Flight Centre Singapore provides packages to this marathon.
GREAT WALL MARATHON IN CHINA
Great Wall marathon in China. PHOTO: FLIGHT CENTRE
Rough paths, sloping trails and 5,000 gruelling steps up and down the Great Wall make this race one of many world’s most difficult. Adding to the issue are uneven steps. Some are tiny and a few are so excessive, you must bounce.
Thankfully, there are much less arduous stretches that go via villages, fields and farmland.
The run begins and ends in Tianjin province, on the Yin and Yang Square on the fortress on the Huangyaguan part of the Great Wall.
Tour company Flight Centre Singapore provides packages to this marathon.
THUNDER DRAGON MARATHON IN BHUTAN
The Thunder Dragon Marathon in Bhutan takes runners alongside a scenic route and previous iconic landmarks. PHOTO: THUNDER DRAGON MARATHON
Participating on this marathon is the right solution to enter the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan and rub shoulders with the happiest folks on earth.
The high-altitude route takes within the lovely Paro Valley and iconic landmarks such because the spectacular Tiger’s Nest monastery perched on a cliff edge.
The race begins and ends at Zhiwa Ling, a luxurious lodge in Bhutan.
After the race, runners can proceed with their guided excursions to soak within the nation’s unspoilt magnificence. Local sports activities tour company Athletes’ Journey organises packages to this marathon.
VICTORIA FALLS MARATHON IN ZIMBABWE
Victoria Falls marathon in Zimbabwe. PHOTO: VICTORIA FALLS MARATHON
Combining breathtaking surroundings with journey, this route winds alongside the mighty Zambezi river, throughout bridges with spectacular views of Victoria Falls, and goes into Zambezi National Park, the place runners might be able to see wildlife akin to zebras and elephants. Post marathon, runners can discover Victoria Falls, which is named the journey centre of Africa. Travel packages can embody rafting, recreation viewing, safaris and bungee leaping.
For particulars, go to www.vicfallsmarathon.com.
A model of this text appeared within the print version of The Sunday Times on June 25, 2017, with the headline ‘Running to a vacation’.