You might not know who Jessie Diggins is, but by the conclusion of February’s Winter Olympics, you will know the world-class cross-country skier’s name. The colorfully coiffed U.S. sensation participates in one of the most grueling sports in the games; cross-country skiers are essentially running a marathon — only they’re doing so on top of slick snow and ice, while clothed in snug, two-piece suits. It’s a war of attrition, for sure. But we’re guessing the calorie eradication is off the charts.
The 13 races listed below won’t put you in the middle of a powdery wonderland like one of Diggins’ events, but the physical exertion will be similar. From a famed course in Boston to a breathtaking scene in Rome, this roster of races will have you fit for all of 2018. And because they take place in some phenomenal destinations, you have the added excuse for a vacation, thus earning yourself a gold medal in multi-tasking.
Race Day: February 25
With an emphasis on Tokyo’s past, present and future, the 2018 route will take runners near the Imperial Palace, across Sumida River and near Tokyo Tower. Don’t break your stride too long to admire the massive landmark, though. Since there will be more than 300,000 other participants on the road for Japan’s largest race, you’d hate to be the one responsible for creating a pileup.
Check in here: Just 13 minutes from the starting line sits Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star gem that makes everyone feel like a champion with more than 900 rooms, amazing service and 17 dining options.
Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon
Race Day: March 4
When the gun goes off for the 40th annual running of this prestigious Napa event, expect to see stars — literally. Joan Benoit Samuelson, two-time Boston Marathon winner and gold medalist of the first women’s Olympic marathon in 1984, will be the featured runner in this 3,000-person race that will weave its way through Wine Country.
Check in here: Reflect on your performance at Las Alcobas, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Napa Valley, a newly opened dazzler that offers everything from jaw-dropping vine views to a state-of-the-art fitness center.
Race Day: April 8
So many people wanted to register for this esteemed race this year that organizers had to extend the deadline. Take one look at the picture-perfect course — in between all of your heavy panting, make sure to notice the Colosseum, Tiber river and other celebrated attractions — and you begin to understand why more than 13,000 people lace up the sneakers every year.
Check in here: J.K. Place Roma rests pretty close to the marathon’s finish line. If you feel yourself losing steam out there, use the Five-Star property’s glamorous furnishings, show-stopping bathrooms and posh J.K. Café as motivation to keep moving.
Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris
Race Day: April 8
Explore the City of Light like never before during one of the world’s largest marathons. Drawing nearly 60,000 runners from across the globe, this popular race through Paris begins at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe before winding past the Place de la Bastille, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, allowing you to work off those croissants as you take in the sights.
Check in here: Less than a five-minute walk from the starting line, Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Hotel Napoleon Paris provides a plush spot to rest up before the big race.
Race Day: April 16
Compete against the pros during the world’s oldest annual marathon, celebrating its 122nd running this year. The cream of the crop makes its way to Boston each Patriot’s Day (the third Monday in April) to compete in the prestigious event, while nearly a half million fans come out to cheer them on as they tackle the tricky Massachusetts countryside.
Check in here: After running more than 26 miles, knowing that Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Fairmont Copley Plaza is only footsteps from the finish line is a huge relief. Treat yourself to Sunday brunch at the hotel’s Oak Long Bar + Kitchen — you’ve earned it.
Virgin Money London Marathon
Race Day: April 22
You’ve never seen London quite like this. This popular marathon (capped at around 40,000 participants) takes you on a historical tour of the British capital, starting at Greenwich before leading you over the Tower Bridge, past the Tower of London and finishing at Buckingham Palace.
Keep your eyes peeled for creative costumes (past disguises have included a giant shoe, a double-decker bus and a snail) and celebrities running for charity (Chris Evans, Princess Beatrice and Gordon Ramsay have all been spotted in recent years).
Check in here: The stylish Five-Star Hotel 41 provides an elegant home base. Just a short walk from the finish line, this boutique hotel offers an extra-special perk — an all-day complimentary buffet of treats, including options like ice cream, candy, nuts and olives to replenish you after the grueling run.
BMO Vancouver Marathon
Race Day: May 6
You don’t have to be a pro athlete to take in the stunning vistas of Vancouver. This May, the city’s only marathon celebrates healthy living by including a half marathon, a five-mile run, a family relay and a kid’s race to get everyone involved.
But the best part is the views — get a glimpse of everything from snow-capped mountain ranges to cherry blossom trees, and 70 percent of the race offers shoreline vistas.
Check in here: Once you’ve enjoyed the festivities around the finish line, make your way back to Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver. Indulge in a hard-earned meal of incredibly fresh — and sustainably sourced — Pacific Coast fare at the property’s Four-Star Yew Seafood and Bar.
Great Wall Marathon
Race Day: May 19
You won’t mind running 5,164 steps once you see the view from the top. This spectacular marathon twists and turns along the top of this famous Beijing UNESCO World Heritage Site as thousands of onlookers cheer you on.
Expect to see rolling hills, ancient villages and the infamously steep “Goat Track” as you tread the worn brick paths.
Check in here: Once you’ve explored the city’s ancient wonders, return to modern luxury at the chic and centrally located Four-Star Rosewood Beijing. Rest and rejuvenate with a dip on the sixth-floor outdoor swimming pool, or get a well-deserved rubdown at the property’s Four-Star Sense Spa.
BMW Berlin Marathon
Race Day: September 16
More than 40,000 runners from 137 countries competed in this race last year. Join the crowd for the upcoming 45th edition and you’ll get a tour of Berlin’s top sights, including Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz, while you zoom through the flat course.
Check in here: A quarter mile from the start/finish area, The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin is close to the action. The elegant rooms will be a post-race respite with spacious tubs to soak your sapped legs and sumptuous beds to rest your weary head.
Nantucket Half Marathon
Race Day: October 7
If you aren’t ready to tackle a full marathon or just want a race with a different landscape, try this fall event. Explore charming Nantucket’s dirt roads and tree-fringed paths on a gently sloping course.
Warning: this takes place during busy Columbus Day weekend, so book your travels and hotel as soon as possible.
Check in here: Speaking of hotels, Four-Star White Elephant Village will feel like home with its beach-inspired suites and residences. While the latter have kitchens with refrigerators, panini presses and more, head to nearby Brant Point Grill for fresh seafood and water vistas.
TCS New York City Marathon
Race Day: November 4
The world’s largest marathon unleashes on the streets of New York City’s five boroughs. If that sounds like a lot, it is — the course is the equivalent of climbing the 104-story One World Trade Center 101 times. But it’s so popular, you may run into familiar faces; comedian Kevin Hart, model Karlie Kloss and chef Daniel Humm of Five-Star Eleven Madison Park ran last year.
Check in here: The race wraps up in Central Park, and The Quin sits only a block from the famed green space. After the marathon, immerse yourself in more of NYC; the Four-Star, art-focused hotel will craft bespoke cultural experiences for you.
French Riviera Marathon
Race Day: November 4
When it comes to scenery, you can’t beat this 11th annual race, where 95 percent of the route lines the jaw-dropping French Riviera coast. With that backdrop and average temperatures hovering around 55 degrees, you just may slow your pace to take it all in.
Check in here: There’s no better place to recover after the race than the Five-Star Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel. Get a sports therapy massage at the Four-Star spa and then unwind in the saltwater pool overlooking the sea.
Rock ’n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon
Race Day: November 10 and 11
When the sun sets in Vegas, the Strip shuts down and this marathon takes off. As you dash down Las Vegas Boulevard, the brilliant neon lights and thumping live music will keep you going all the way through downtown.
To add an eccentric Vegas touch to the marathon, there’s a Run Through Wedding, a five-minute ceremony on the course where you can tie the knot with a fellow racer, and a group of runners dressing up like Elvis.
Check in here: After all of the excitement, retire to the peaceful Vdara Hotel & Spa. The non-gaming, all-suite property is an oasis. Don’t miss its Five-Star ESPA at Vdara. The spa will banish any soreness with a tailored-for-you service.