10 Running Trails Worth Travelling For

Trade in stuffy gyms and park runs for one of these spectacular running routes.

Running is great, but even for the most seasoned racers the monotony of the treadmill and same-old routes gets old quickly. Trade in stuffy gyms and park runs for one of the world's 10 best scenic trails, on which incredible scenery makes the cramps and breathlessness well worth it.

Catch me if you can: the world's top ten running trails worth the distance

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

The Cliffs of Moher features in both ancient Irish legends and big-screen films - and it's not hard to see why. Framed by towering rises and crashing waves, it's Irish landscape at its most rugged. Skip the local guide and bypass group tours in favour of exploring the storied lands by foot. For an especially pretty route, the Doolin Cliff Walk trail will take you on an 8km stretch backed on one side by bucolic countryside and by sweeping scenes of the ocean and the Aran Islands on the other. Be sure to pause at the O'Brian Tower for a movie-worthy scene of the cliffs.

Inca Trail, Peru

Although this is one that's usually hiked in a multi-day jaunt, serious runners should consider the Inca Trail for their next challenge - it's almost exactly the distance of a marathon. Jelly legs and foot cramps are much more tolerable when endured against an Hollywood-worthy backdrop of mountain scenery, cloud forest, alpine tundra and lush jungle - plus, once you reach your final destination, the pain will dissipate in the presence of the incredible Machu Picchu.

Jungfrau Route, Switzerland

If you've got a case of treadmill tedium, the Swiss Alps is the antidote. The Jungfrau Route bills itself as the world's most beautiful trail, and between the snow-capped peaks, bluer-than-blue skies and glittering lakes, it'd be hard to argue against them. It's a beautiful beast, however; they're scenes for which you'll have to work (very hard). After the first fairly flat 10km, you'll be met with a 1,823m elevation so we'd be sure to hit the stairmaster extra hard before attempting this.

This image is on holiday

Jungle Marathon, Brazil

Think cross-country on steroids, the Jungle Marathon leads runners through swamps, across rivers, up steep climbs and down even more steep descents, through village trails, sandy beaches and more. It dubs itself both the "world's wildest eco race" and eerily "the world's most terrifying adventure", so you've got to have more than just stamina to get through this run. The Jungle Marathon will test your everything: survival skills, physical ability, mental strength and propensity for creepy-crawlies. If you're up for more than a marathon, embark on a six-stage, 254km race, sleeping in hammocks come nightfall.

Great Himalayan Trail, Nepal

Often regarded as the big daddy of trekking, this Nepalase route takes you all the way from the east to west of Nepal, past some of the world's most spectacular mountains and the views that accompany them. Linking together the less tourist ravaged destinations of Nepal's mountain range, the proposed trail stretches across the Greater Himalyan Range taking in Kashmir, Tibet, India, Nepal and Bhutan - but unless you feel like attempting to be the first person in the world to do the whole continuous route, you can pick and choose snippets of the trail and still say you conquered the GHT.

Runyon Canyon Park, Los Angeles

The best way to beat the crowds craning for a look of the Hollywood sign? Set your alarm, lace up your runners and get moving. Neighbouring Hollywood Boulevard, the Sunset Strip and the Los Angeles Basin, Runyon Canyon Park is a 130-acre park that offers running opportunities aplenty and, like Goldilocks and porridge, no matter if you like it hilly, rocky or smooth sailing, there's a route for you. For a guaranteed thigh burn, hit the steep climbs of the Star Trail, and if you're up for a challenge The Hero Trail will push your limits.

Great Gable, England

There's a reason why there's a whole school of writers dubbed The Lake Poets; between the lush forests, glossy lakes and towering mountains, the Lake District is a natural haven through and through. The Green Gable is an especially pretty route in an area known for its pretty routes. Beginning and finishing at the head of the Wasdale valley, the trail snakes up through the clouds to majestic views that inspired Wordsworth and Coleridge.

Atacama Crossing, Chile

The Atacama Crossing is one of the four 155-mile desert routes designed to sort the extremely tough from the very tough. Ultra-runners take years to prepare for this seven-day race, but if you're after a route that's a little less extreme (although admittedly still very difficult), the Volcano Marathon is the highest desert marathon in the world, and while the resulting thinner air will provide yet another challenge to surpass, the panoramic views of the surrounding volcanoes more than make up for it.

Rim-to-Rim Trail, Grand Canyon

There's no question about it, the Grand Canyon one of those once-in-a-lifetime adventures to which many of us aspire. While Pinterest and Instagram may have you believing it's only seen from above, we urge you to venture a little below the rim for a different perspective. Push your limits on the aptly named Rim-to-Rim trail, leading you between colossal rock formations, past the sandy banks of the Colorado River and through two billion years of the Earth's history. First timers are recommended to run via the North Kaibab Trail and the Bright Angel Trail.

Lion’s Head, Cape Town

Named after the mountain's shape (granted you have to squint a little), Lion's Head is a route to cut your teeth (or running shoes) on. Only two to three hours long and clearly marked, the trail is suitable for beginners and offers rewards in far excess of the effort. Winding its way across the mountain, it provides multiple vantage points along the way from which to witness Cape Town's incredible topography, but just like a cherry on top, the peak is where you'll find the best views of Table Bay and the kingfisher-blue waters stretching endlessly ahead. Next on the list? Lion's Head's big brother: Table Top Mountain.

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