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Marathons From Berlin To Bangkok

Personal Business: FITNESS


Marathons in U. S. cities such as Boston and New York have dominated the long-distance-running scene in recent years. But now, the marathon craze is going international. Nearly every major city seems to have set up a race, and fanatics--including many Americans--are flocking to them.

On the worldwide circuit, you can retrace the original 26-mile, 385-yard sprint from Marathon to Athens in 490 B. C. (In legend, the fleet-footed runner who delivered news of Greece's victory over Persia collapsed and died soon after he arrived.) Or you can pick exotic locales: The Mount Kilimanjaro Marathon on June 30 starts at the foot of the majestic 19,340-foot mountain in Tanzania and snakes through jungles and nature preserves. The Pyramids Marathon next January begins and ends near the Sphinx and Great Pyramid in Egypt.

One of the most popular big-city meets for Americans is London's, which drew 40,000 runners on Apr. 21. If you missed the chance to race past Big Ben and the Tower of London, how about Moscow's July 18 run, which follows the Moscow River through Gorky Park to Lenin Stadium?

You might also consider the Sept. 29 Berlin Marathon, which winds through the streets of what used to be East and West Berlin. Other upcoming races include Budapest (May 12), Whitehorse, Yukon (June 22), Turku, Finland (July 28), Rio de Janeiro (Aug. 4), Moorea, French Polynesia (Sept. 1), Beijing (Oct. 20), Bangkok (Nov. 24), and Barbados (Dec. 7).

JET LAG. International events have their own special charm--and problems, too. Officials worried about terrorism canceled the Paris Marathon scheduled for Apr. 14. The Mount Kilimanjaro race may still not come off, because of a local revolution.

If you're thinking about running overseas, allow two or three days between your flight and the start of the race. It will take you at least that long to get over jet lag.

How do you sign up? Marathon Tours & Travel in Charlestown, Mass. (617 242-7845) can book your race registration, air ticket, and hotel. It offers a six-night package for the Moscow meet at $2,199. Runner's World and Running Times carry ads by individuals who make arrangements. If you're a running addict, overseas marathons are a great way to see the world and get your fix at the same time.EDITED BY AMY DUNKIN Mark Lewyn

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