The Grossglocknerberglauf (© Grossglocknerberglauf)
One of the many great things about running is that it takes you to some incredible places – and you get to experience them up close and personal, on foot.
It’s not just the challenging terrain that makes these routes so breath-taking; it’s the scenery and experiences that come with them. You can watch the sun rise from a mountain top, you can taste local delicacies in remote huts and learn about native flora and fauna from local guides.
Some dream destinations may still be impractical to visit, but we take a look at some of the amazing running locations where you can enjoy the beauty of mountain and trail running.
Banff National Park, Canada
Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, Banff National Park offers an incredible array of routes for runners, including mountains, canyons, lakes and glaciers. There are so many beautiful sights nearby, such as Lake O’Hara.
Routes to try: the Lake Minnewanka Trail offers a flatter option, or try the Eiffel Peak Trail for something more mountainous.
Races to enter: the Banff Marathon must be one of the most picturesque marathons around. If 42km isn’t your thing, there’s also a half marathon and 10km option.
East Tyrol, Austria
Home to the High Tauern National Park and beautiful mountains such as the highest peak in Austria, the imposing 3798m Grossglockner, this area is a must for fans of high Alpine running. Featuring one of the highest mountain roads in Europe and a high probability of seeing marmots, it is magnificent high alpine scenery.
Routes to try: there is a large network of trails with a variety of distances and ascent to suit any runner, but starting in the picturesque village of Heiligenblut allows you to run into the long valley with great vistas of the Grossglockner.
Races to enter: the Grossglocknerlauf has 1500m of ascent over just 12.7km, but will reward you with unforgettable views.
The Dolomites, Italy
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009, the jagged peaks of the Dolomites really take your breath away. Incorporating 22 peaks of about 3000m, you can really take your pick if you love mountain running, and there are 57 marked trails to follow.
Routes to try: the 15km Puez Circuit or, for a longer adventure, tackle one of the Alta Via (high routes) over several days.
Races to enter: Drei Zinnen Alpine Run, Lavaredo Ultra Trail.
If epic wide-open spaces are your thing then New Zealand has them in droves. And as for mountains, the ‘Southern Alps’ on the South Island boast an unbelievable 37 peaks over 2900m.
Routes to try: the 32km Routeburn Track
Races to enter: the Kepler Challenge is the most historic mountain race in the country, offering the full circuit option of 60km or the 27km Luxmore Grunt Mountain Run.
A mecca for runners from all over the world, in no small part due to iconic races such as the Mont Blanc Marathon and Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, there are miles and miles of Alpine trails, punctuated by the odd turquoise lake or mountain hut.
Routes to try: head up to Flegere and over to Lac Blanc to experience stunning views and a perfect lake.
Races to enter: Mont Blanc Marathon, one of the UTMB races.
Manaslu region, Nepal
The Himalayas is a dream destination for mountain running and is becoming more accessible for runners to get to, with guided runs and races. Stay in mountain lodges and experience the local culture.
Routes to try: the Great Himalaya Trail
Races to enter: Manaslu Trail Race, Mustang Trail Race
Glen Coe, Scotland
With incredible ridges and dramatic valleys formed from ice age glaciers, there’s something for every runner here, whether you’re a thrill seeker who’s a confident scrambler or looking for an undulating trail.
Routes to try: the West Highland Way. You can do it in stages and get a travel company to transport your bags.
Races to enter: the Skyline Scotland weekend has something for every runner, from a 5km to highly technical mountain running.
A vibrant running culture and a land of incredibly varied terrain, trails are easily accessible right from the congested city centre. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can view the epic skyline from high above.
Routes to try: the Hong Kong Trail
Races to enter: the 9 Dragons Ultra has options from 10km to 50 miles.
If you’re looking for something different from your terrain then Iceland will certainly deliver it. Glaciers, volcanoes, lava formations and hot springs are just some of the features you’ll encounter while running here.
Routes to try: run on the trails around the Thingvellir National Park, where two tectonic plates meet.
Races to enter: the Laugavegur Ultramarathon, which takes place on a famous 55km trail and is much loved by hikers.
Silverton, Colorado, USA
Silverton sits at 2800m in the San Juan mountains – and you just go up from there! There are many options for runners, ranging from picturesque loops round lakes to extremely tough mountain runs.
Routes to try: the Island Lake Trail or Imogene Pass.
Races to enter: the Hardrock 100 for the brave (or lucky if you can get in the ballot). If you like uphill running, try the Kendall Mountain Run.
With stunning 4000-metre peaks all around, you can’t fail to inspire your running. There are miles of trails for every level of runner, whether you enjoy Alpine ascents or lakes and woodland trails.
Routes to try: the Matterhorn Trail will take you from Zermatt to the foot of the mighty Matterhorn.
Races to enter: the iconic 31km Sierre-Zinal Race located just down the valley, or the Ultra Tour Monte Rosa, where distances range from 21km to 100 miles.
• Find a full range of mountain races throughout the year at wmra.info/calendar