As winter approaches, it can be a challenge to maintain our training programme; so to ensure you stay motivated throughout the cold dark months, why not target an international event in spring? Our partner Sports Tours International (STI) offers packages for various races around the world and we've listed a few to get you thinking:
Malta marathon/half marathon (23 February)
Situated just 58 miles south of Sicily, Malta provides a scenic route and warm temperatures. With full and half marathon options, the late February event can be a big race in its own right or a warm-up for one of the major marathons in April.
Tokyo marathon (26 February)
Taking place in one of the most exciting and vibrant cities in the world, over 35,000 runners are expected to run Tokyo marathon next year. The course is said to be up there with Berlin and London in terms of flatness and passes Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Tree and Asakusa Gate. The marathon is exceptionally difficult to enter, but STI has guaranteed starting places.
Paris half marathon (3 March)
A great event in its own right, Paris half is also perfect preparation for the full marathon later in the year. The race goes past some of the French capital's most famous sites and STI offers you the chance to stay in a four star hotel on the edge of Paris city centre.
Rome marathon (17 March)
With Italy having more UNESCO world heritage sites than any other country, the Eternal City is a great place to combine running and culture. The races takes you through some of the most famous places in history including the Colosseum, Vatican Walls, and the Trevi Fountain. Rome is a great alternative to London and Paris and a must for any marathon runner.
Barcelona marathon (17 March)
One of the emerging marathons, Barcelona has great weather in spring and is ideal for a city break. The course takes in FC Barcelona's stadium Camp Nou, as well as Gaudi's masterpiece Sagrada Familia and UNESCO site Hospital de Sant Pau.
Two Oceans Ultra Half Marathons (29-30 March)
Billed as 'the most beautiful marathon in the world' Two Oceans in Cape Town, South Africa comprises a number of running events over the course of a weekend. The races are run through Cape Peninsula providing you with spectacular scenery and clear blue oceans.
Paris marathon (7 April)
One of the biggest and most popular events of its kind in Europe, the iconic city hosts the marathon. Starting on the world famous Champs Elysées and attracting 40,000 runners each year. As you would expect the race route is awash with historic landmarks, taking in the Louvre and Place de la Bastille before finishing in the spectacular Avenue Foch. STI is offering entry to Paris marathon for only £50. Only a limited number of places are available at this price.
Rotterdam marathon (14 April)
Given the country's reputation for being flat, it is no surprise that Holland's largest sporting event has one of the fastest marathon courses around. The city is often referred to as the 'Gateway to Europe' due to its location and is also one of Europe's most vibrant and multicultural cities. STI offer guaranteed entry for only £35 with 5k and 10k options as well.
Virgin London marathon (21 April)
For those lucky enough to have been successful in the ballot for London marathon, STI offers hotel stays which include coach transfer to the start of the race and a hotel located near Trafalgar Square, ideal for the finish on The Mall.
So now it's up to you to decide which race you'd like to enter. Once you do, it'll make slogging it out through the British winter that bit more bearable.
For more information visit the Sports Tours International website.