After the hard work of those winter base miles and the increased training intensity of early spring, thousands of runners will be putting their meticulous preparations to the test this weekend as some major races with Paris, Rotterdam, Milan and Boston all hosting big marathons.
Paris will be the labour of love for many this Sunday (April 15), with 40,000 runners set to turn out on the Champs Elysees. The prospect of a long weekend finished off with some fine wine will no doubt encourage the 5,000 UK runners expected to travel to the French capital.
The biggest one-day sporting in event in Holland for 12 years, the Rotterdam Marathon will this year play host to two exciting newcomers, Ethiopians Tilahun Regassa and Lelisa Desisa. With a fast and flat course, coupled with the rhapsody of close to a million spectators along the way, records are always a distinct possibility in Rotterdam.
Sunday also sees the 12th staging of the Milano City Marathon. Held in November for 9 years, the event has experienced an upsurge since switching to spring, and attracted over 10,000 runners in 2011.
From novice to old-hand, the Boston Marathon, first appearing in 1897 when 18 plucky runners took part, is the oldest annual city marathon in the world. One of the five World marathon majors, the route is considered to be one of the most challenging courses on the circuit with Heartbreak Hill the source of many a sleepless nights to many of the 25,000 runners heading to Boston on Monday.