Whether you’ve completed every sports event in Abu Dhabi and need a new challenge or want to see another city in a unique way, combine your love of fitness and travel with these destination sporting events
If your idea of a vacation involves pushing your physical limits, then you’re part of a growing group of travellers who are no longer satisfied with mere sightseeing holidays.
This growing tourism phenomenon is expected to gain more traction as people around the world seek to merge the excitement of travelling with the benefits of healthy living.
From intense obstacle courses, to running and triathlons, there are many sporting activities open to the public taking place across the globe, giving visitors an opportunity to combine a fitness challenge with visiting a new destination.
Looking for leads? Check out these exciting events designed for fitness-fanatic holidaymakers.
What better way to get your heart pumping than with one of the most picturesque cities in the world as the backdrop for your marathon? The Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris 2018 starts on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées before taking runners around other city landmarks including the Louvre and the banks of the Seine river and Bois de Vincennes park. What’s more, people with disabilities are welcome to join the race, which will cover a total distance of 42.195km.
During your stay, take a quick tour of other attractions such as Père-Lachaise Cemetery, Musée de l’Orangerie, and Les Catacombes. €119 (AED 521) entry fee. 8th April. Visit: schneiderelectricparismarathon.com/en
Spartan Race (Malaysia)
This touring sporting event will land in Semenyih, Selangor for another round of intense obstacle races. The Spring challenge is perfect for both novice and returning racers looking to test their limits. Tackling 23 obstacles across a distance of up to eight kilometres, participants will run, climb, push, pull and crawl through walls, trees, hills, mud, barbed wire and more.
If it’s your first time in the country, visit the Islamic Art Museum, Batu Caves, Huskitory (good for dog lovers), and of course, the Petronas Twin Towers, to make the most of your visit. Already been to Malaysia? Check out the event’s website to see other race schedules and locations throughout the year. From RM 159 (AED 146). 15th April. Sign up at
Run Rampage Weekender (Northern Ireland)
Whether you’re an ardent fitness buff or just looking for a thrill, this is certainly a unique race. Participants will venture into the Jungle NI on Desertmartin Road for two days of adventure. What’s on the agenda? An exciting 5km and 10km run dotted with 60 obstacles to keep participants on their toes. There’s also a race dedicated to kids and teens. Equally as exciting are the after-race, camping-inspired activities including live entertainment, food and a themed party.
Take time off, too, to explore attractions such as the Magherafelt Library, Drum Manor Forest Park, Wellbrook Beetling Mill and Ardboe Cross. From £14 (AED 69). 28th and 29th April. Visit: thejungleni.com/event/rampage
Wings for Life (Croatia)
The city of Zadar is the setting for this annual charity run which happens simultaneously in up to 35 locations around the globe. Runners of different skill levels are welcome to participate in this open distance event. The race will cover picturesque small villages including Bibinje, Sukosan, Jakov, and Pirovac, allowing participants to enjoy the views on their way to the finish line. Proceeds from the event will go to Wings for Life, a non-profit organisation founded to help fund studies on spinal cord injuries and paraplegia.
Want to see more of Croatia? While there, explore popular tourist attractions such as the Krka National Park, Korcula – the birthplace of famed traveller Marco Polo, the Romanesque amphitheatre in Pula, and, for Game of Thrones fanatics, historical Dubrovnik. HRK 160 (AED 97) entry fee. 6th May. Visit: registration.wingsforlifeworldrun.com, wingsforlifeworldrun.com
Tour of Daphne (Greece)
How about a multisport tour in stunning Greece? This seven-day fitness excursion will cover various locations in Central Greece. The tour will take eager participants to Mount Olympus, Meteora and Delphi, where they can enjoy a variety of activities such as cycling, swimming, hiking, climbing, yoga, kayaking, plus a museum visit and food tasting. If that’s not enough to get you to sign up, then think of the scenic views that you’ll see along the way including Dion, Orlia waterfalls, the villages of Ampelakia and Agia Paraskevi, and Vale of Tempe, among others. 14th-20th May. €2,370 (AED 10,700) entry fee, inclusive of transfer, transportation and bike rent. To register or find out more, visit: bit.ly/2mcEYzm
Outlaw Triathlon (England)
Now in its ninth instalment, this triathlon in Nottingham will challenge brave participants to complete a 4km swim in the Regatta Lake at the city’s National Water Sports Centre, a 180km cycle around Nottinghamshire, and a 42km run along the River Trent. Cheering spectators will be watching all throughout to motivate participants. If you have spare days after the event, why not explore city attractions such as Stonebridge City Farm, Nottingham Industrial Museum, the Old Market Square and Green’s Windmill. 29th July. From £304 (AED 1,500). Visit: bit.ly/2blKBKf
Dam tot Damloop Run (The Netherlands)
Conquer Holland’s biggest running course in the company of fellow fitness fans in this annual competition. The challenge is for experienced participants to run from Dam square in Amsterdam to Zaandam, which is about 11km. There’s also hiking and cycling events happening on different dates, so make sure to check the group’s events calendar. As added motivation, the event supports Right to Play, an international organisation that uses play activities to educate and share knowledge with children. From €26.50 (AED 116). 22nd and 23rd September. Visit: damloop.nl
Here to watch
Not thinking of competing? That’s fine, you can still enjoy action-packed events
as a tourist-turned-spectator.
To help you with your planning, here are three big sporting events that are worth travelling to watch.
Commonwealth Games (Australia)
This multisport event will take place on the Gold Coast between 4th and 15th April with 70 countries taking part, including British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cyprus, Jamaica, Rwanda and the Seychelles. Athletes will compete across various disciplines such as swimming, athletics, badminton, basketball, gymnastics, hockey and table tennis. For more information, visit: gc2018.com
FIFA World Cup (Russia)
Russia will be hosting this much-anticipated football tournament from 14th June until 15th July that will feature 32 teams. Participating countries for the 2018 Cup include Germany, Brazil, Belgium, Poland, Switzerland, Tunisia, Senegal, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. To accommodate the large number of games, matches will take place across 12 venues, with Luzhniki Stadium and Saint Petersburg Stadium hosting the majority. For more information, visit: fifa.com/worldcup
The oldest tennis tournament in the world is also one of the most highly regarded. Aside from watching some of the sport’s top names compete in men’s, women’s and doubles events, spectators can soak up the incredible atmosphere, enjoy traditional food like strawberries and cream, cucumber sandwiches and tea, and swap the UAE’s sweltering summer climes for milder British weather – and perhaps a spot of rain. This year’s tournament takes place from 2nd to 15th July. While in London, take time to explore top attractions from Hyde Park and Royal Albert Hall to Big Ben and the Tower of London. From £8 (AED 41). For more information, visit: wimbledon.com
Want more recommendations? The good news is that, nowadays, many travel companies are incorporating fitness and wellness tours into their packages
Intrepid Travel offers cycling tours in places like Tanzania, Cuba, Croatia and Vietnam.
Responsible Travel operates a kayaking holiday for up to five days off the coast of Wales from May to October. Visit: responsibletravel.com
Those thinking of doing some soul-searching can sign up to the mindfulness package by Ramblers Walking Holidays in Spain’s Mallorca for yoga, meditation and nature walks. Visit: www.ramblersholidays.co.uk
WORDS Ferdinand Godinez