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5 great marathons you can run this winter

From Kolkata to Dubai, here are five great marathons you can train for and participate in this winter, before the Tokyo Marathon rolls around next March

Run a marathon this winter.
Run a marathon this winter. (Istockphoto)

This year’s final World Marathon Major, the New York City Marathon, wrapped up on 5 November. The next Majors race, the Tokyo Marathon, is not until 3 March. While running the World Majors is the goal and dream of every runner, there are plenty of great races all across the world to choose from. You must take advantage of the good outdoors weather and use some of these races as training runs for your big races. 

From Dubai to Singapore with a detour to Kolkata, we list five races in the next couple of months that have the potential to spice up your running calendar. Signing up for one of these races also gives you the perfect excuse to travel, as well as ensuring you keep training.     

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Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (1-3 December; full marathon, half marathon, 10km, 5km): Singapore is a short flight away, visas are easy to get, and there’s plenty else to do, other than running a marathon. The city has a pretty active endurance sport scene with plenty of running, cycling, swimming, triathlon and obstacle races all through the year. So, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon is a fairly packed event. 

I ran this race in 2013 and I remember it to be a well organised race with plenty of public transport options to reach the starting line. It starts rather early in the day, with both full and half marathons beginning at 4:30am. The 10km and 5km races take place a day earlier on Saturday, 2 December, and have much kinder start times at 6:30am and 8:30am respectively. 

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After the race, there are MRT (metro) stations and bus stops nearby that you could take to get back to your home or hotel. My only grouse with this race is that the support along the race route isn’t loud and enthusiastic, as compared to the Tata Mumbai Marathon or other races in Europe and the US.    

Tata Steel Kolkata 25k (17 December; 25km, 10km, Ananda Run): Kolkata is such a unique city, so it is befitting that the city’s biggest race boasts a unique distance of 25km. It is a perfect distance for a long run if you are training for a full or half marathon. Doing a training run at a race means you get full hydration support, don’t have to worry about traffic and road closures and even get a medal at the end of it. 

The race is on the third Sunday of December, so the weather will be great. The city also decks up really well for Christmas and evening walks along Park Street and around New Market in central Kolkata are a must do. As for the race route, it starts close to the famous Eden Gardens, runs through the iconic Kolkata Race Course, the National Library, Fort William and, the Victoria Memorial. It’s a good way to see the city, sans the traffic. And if 25km is too much, you could easily sign up for the 10km version, which also starts near the Eden Gardens and passes through the Victoria Memorial. Sign up soon as all categories are nearing full capacity.  

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Chennai Marathon (7 January, 2024; full marathon, half Marathon, 32km and 10km): This is another marathon that boasts a unique distance category. That is because his race was started by the running group Chennai Runners. Members of the group run plenty of full marathons, so the organisers and planners know well that everyone needs to run distances between 30 and 35km at least once while preparing for a full. 

This is a run for runners by runners, so despite the race venue being far away, all Chennai runners with cars offer other runners the chance to carpool with them. It is a very friendly race full of warm people who extend an enthusiastic welcome to all runners, no matter the distance you might be running. This race could be the perfect last long run if you are aiming to go all out at the Tata Mumbai Marathon or the Tokyo Marathon.      

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Dubai Marathon (7 January, 2024; full marathon, 10km): One might say running in the desert in Dubai heat is bonkers. But you are wrong about both the desert and the heat. Dubai has fantastic weather through December and January, giving runners and cyclists the opportunity to workout in perfect temperatures. Since it is Dubai, the course is flat and fast, and you do see a fair number of people come out on the streets to cheer the runners. Though the Dubai Metro runs special services on the day of the marathon, your best bet to and from the race is to cab it. I ran it in 2015 and my only tip is to try and finish your run before the sun is directly overhead.    

Tata Mumbai Marathon (21 January, 2024; full marathon, half marathon, 10km, Dream Run): India’s biggest race, and a sporting event that has become a much anticipated fixture on Mumbai’s cultural calendar, will be back on the third Sunday of January. It is a very popular race with the half marathon being the most popular race category. There is no way you can get a bib for the half marathon at this late stage but there are few slots remaining in the full marathon. Sign up for it and enjoy the crowd support and the famous spirit of Mumbai as you run from town to Bandra and back.   

Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and the co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.

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