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A few years ago, Shona became the first Scottish female to run a marathon on every continent and the North Pole and join the Grand Slam Marathon Club. Since then, she has completed numerous other challenges including the inaugural Genghis Khan Ice Marathon in Outer Mongolia. She has also ran many of the World Marathon Majors and give us her insight into these exciting events.
There are a number of reasons but the simple answer is I enjoy running and I need a challenge. Without something to aim for in life, I tend to get myself into a bit of a negative state. I don’t think I’m different from anyone else. We all need something to drive us forward, and for me, running provides direction, as well as that euphoric “runners high”
I ran my first marathon with Sports Tours International in New York in 2010, and despite vomiting and a fairly high degree of pain at mile 23, I really enjoyed it and I was buzzing for about a week afterwards. At that time, I thought I would only ever run one marathon. I thought the story would end there. However, it was actually only the beginning.
I picked New York for a number of reasons. Firstly, a friend of mine had run it the year before and bet me I couldn’t do it quicker! Secondly, it is one of the most famous running events on earth so I wanted to experience it for myself.
It was a great race, the crowd support was amazing. Organisation was flawless and the aid stations were amongst the best and most regular! The course is a journey through the cultural twists of New York, with breathtaking views over the bridges and a beautiful finish in Central Park.
As I mentioned, at that time, I thought this would be the only marathon I would ever run. I had no intention of ticking off the remaining Majors! However, as time passed, I realised that I missed the training, and I wanted to travel more and run more incredible places. The World Majors with Sports Tours International seemed the perfect way to meet these goals.
Things didn’t quite go as scheduled! Ten days before London, I strained my right thigh and it hurt to walk. This was not a great position to be in. Looking back, getting through those ten days was pretty tough. It felt like taper and injury psychosis combined. All I could do was rest, foam roll and ice. Ten days felt like a decade but luck must have been with me as I made it round London with a grimace more than a smile!
London marathon is an incredible event. As with New York, the crowds are wonderful and the charity aspect is virtually unparalleled. The sights are world famous from the the start at the glorious Greenwich Park through the streets via Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, Big Ben to the spectacular finish running up the Mall past Buckingham Palace.
The Chicago Marathon was another wonderful experience with huge crowd support! Beginning downtown by Columbus Drive and Monroe Street at Grants Park, it was quite an experience to travel en masse with 40,000 other runners past the beautiful Millennium Park, along State Street and the iconic Chicago Theatre and then off through the city streets beyond.
As is common with all the Majors, we took in plenty of sights and sounds on the way round! The highlights included the breathtaking Lincoln Park, the world famous Wrigley Park, home of Major League’s Baseball Chicago Cubs, the Willis Tower, the Italian and Chinese districts and onto the Michigan Avenue which led us up to the finish.
Tokyo is a city of conflicting images; wherever you look you catch a glimpse of the past, the present and the future; the same was also true of the marathon. In recent years, there has been a huge focus on distance running in Japan. The Tokyo Marathon Foundation had clearly put a huge amount of energy and vision into the marathon. The new logo portrayed images of the runners, volunteers and cheering crowds along the course, emphasising the huge human commitment to running. Despite an ankle blowing up, I think this event is the top of the leader board to date!
The marathon takes in some incredible sights: the Metropolitan Government building, the Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower, the Ginza, and Asakusa before finishing at the Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba. The crowds were spectacular, and create a terrific atmosphere. The Japanese put on an event that is world class yet remains relaxed, unpretentious and a real sense of humour.
I’m really looking forward the Berlin Marathon. With 40,000 runners and crowds described as “superb” and “phenomenal”, the race through one of Europe’s most historical capitals looks really interesting. Over the fast and flat 26.2 mile route between the start and finish near the world famous Brandenburg Gates, there are a some wonderful sights from the Berlin Cathedral to the State Opera House. It’s set be another great trip!
Boston Marathon is another legendary course. Boston Marathon is the oldest annual marathon in the world and, arguably one of the most prestigious running events in the calendar. The course itself is full of incredible sights and sounds and I’m intrigued to discover how the journey from Hopkinton to Copley Square unfolds for over 30,000 runners on 17 April 2017.
Having had amazing trips with Sports Tours International for the other Majors, it is great to be running again with them in Berlin and Boston. If you enjoy travel and running, they are constantly evolving their international running offerings. The team are enormous fun and let you focus on enjoying the race, without worrying about flights, hotels and transfers!
– The fantastic race organisation at the expo and on race day.
– The smiling volunteers at the aid stations.
– The amazing crowd support. The cities really do come alive on the day.
– The exceptionally friendly and helpful Sports Tours international team.
– The finish line: nowhere is the full spectrum of human emotion purer that at the end of a marathon from tears of joy and smiles from exhilaration to utter exhaustion.
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