Can't Get Into the Dublin Marathon? Here Are 5 Epic Alternatives

May 16, 2024

So, you've unsuccessfully tried to get into the Dublin Marathon, haven’t you?  Welcome to the club. Since its growth in popularity in the last decade, its organizers have introduced a ballot to ensure a fair distribution of race entries. However, this ballot may make you feel like you’re vying for a golden ticket to Willy Wonka's factory, but with more sweat and fewer Oompa-Loompas.

And let's not even start on the costs. Hotels in Dublin during marathon weekend? Forget about it. You’d need to remortgage your house just to afford a bedsit. Eddie Hobbs would go into meltdown looking into the costs of staying in Dublin during the marathon weekend.

And then to add insult to injury, you're probably part of a running group that's been training with the goal of conquering Dublin, only to find out you missed out. And since there are no other marathons in Ireland that weekend, you’re left looking further afield for an alternative.

But don't despair! While the Dublin Marathon might be the stuff of dreams (or nightmares, depending on how you look at it), there are plenty of fantastic marathons out there in the UK and continental Europe that are easier to get into. Here are the top 5 alternatives to the Dublin Marathon that will ensure you won't be left with FOMO on the last weekend of October.

1. Frankfurt Marathon, Germany. October 27th

First on our list today is Frankfurt, Germany – where the beer flows like water and the sausages are as plentiful as your race-day nerves. The Frankfurt Marathon is not just a race; it’s a celebration of efficiency and organization that only the Germans could perfect. The flat course means you can shave precious minutes off your time, and the finish line inside the Festhalle, a grand concert hall, gives you a rock-star moment as you cross under the spotlights. Plus, you can drown any post-race sorrows in some of the best beer halls around – which, let's face it, is a huge win. Just make sure to get that phrasebook out and practice saying "Ein Bier, bitte" beforehand.

2. Beachy Head Marathon, Eastbourne, England. October 26th

Second on our list we are a little closer to home with a marathon just outside Eastbourne in England. For those who crave a bit of punishment with their picturesque views, the Beachy Head Marathon is your race. This off-road marathon is one of the toughest in the UK. Formerly known as the Seven Sisters Marathon, this grueling course takes you through the South Downs National Park, starting and finishing on the Eastbourne seafront. Think of it as nature’s way of reminding you who’s boss. The route offers stunning vistas of rolling hills and rugged coastline, which you might be able to appreciate between gasps for breath. Just make sure you’ve got a sturdy pair of trail shoes and a healthy sense of humor.

3. Venice Marathon, Italy. October 27th

Welcome to the land of pasta, wine, and masochistically beautiful marathons. The Venice Marathon starts at the majestic Villa Pisani, where you can pretend you’re nobility for a fleeting moment before embarking on your epic journey. From there, the course takes you on a historical and scenic adventure, winding through the Riviera del Brenta with its ancient Venetian Villas and past the colorful buildings of Mestre's M9 museum of the 20th century. But the real magic happens when you cross the "Ponte della Libertà" – a flat and straight bridge of almost 4 km – and enter the floating city of Venice itself. You'll run alongside the iconic Canale della Giudecca, past Piazza San Marco (high tide permitting), and finally across a pontoon bridge specially built for the race over the Grand Canal. The finish line in Riva Sette Martiri is your reward for conquering this unforgettable marathon course – just don't forget to celebrate with a hearty bowl of pasta and a glass of fine Italian wine.

4. Le Grand Marathon de Saint-Denis, Paris, France. October 27th

The penultimate race on our list is a marathon in the city of Paris – the city of love, lights, and long runs. The Le Grand Marathon de Saint-Denis takes you through the charming, and let's be honest, less touristy parts of Paris. The race route offers a unique tour, passing by the historic Basilica of Saint-Denis, the futuristic Olympic Aquatics Center, and the vibrant Olympic Village. You’ll also run through the lush Georges Valbon Park, a green oasis in the city, before finishing in the iconic Stade de France, the home of the French football and rugby national teams. After you’ve crossed the finish line, you can reward yourself with a croissant and a café au lait, while basking in the glory of having run a marathon in one of the world’s most iconic cities. Just be prepared for the Parisians to look effortlessly chic even as you hobble around post-race – it’s part of their charm.

5. Istanbul Marathon, Turkey. November 3rd

If you're willing to wait until the week after the Dublin Marathon, the Istanbul Marathon offers a unique experience that's worth delaying your victory lap. Dubbed the only intercontinental marathon in the world, the Istanbul Marathon starts on the Asian side of the city, crosses the Bridge over the Bosphorus Strait separating the two continents, and finishes on the European side in the ancient Roman Hippodrome, one of the oldest race courses in the world. Along the way, you'll be treated to breathtaking views and a journey through history as you pass by iconic landmarks that have stood for centuries. And let's not forget about the post-race delights – from sizzling kebabs to bitter Turkish coffee and its baths, Istanbul has it all. Just be prepared for a sensory overload and a marathon experience unlike any other.


So, while you be disappointed not to come out of the ballot for the Dublin marathon, these alternatives offer plenty of charm, challenge, and a whole lot of fun. So why not use it as an excuse to pack that suitcase and do a marathon in somewhere new.

Related News