Morocco’s International Marathon – A Running Tour Through Marrakech
The International Marathon at Marrakech is considered one of the most prestigious marathons in the world and boasts a beautiful and exotic setting for its runners. The route itself, which was designed by an international judge after visiting the most beautiful sites in Marrakech, winds itself down palm tree-lined streets, through orange and olive groves, past historical monuments and along the walls of the city itself.
As well as being a hot spot for marathon runners, Marrakech is also a prime destination for tourists who wish to discover and experience the “real” Morocco. The small and narrow streets of Marrakech never allowed for the car to be completely integrated into every day life giving the city a more rustic and authentic feel.
A must-see in Marrakech are The Great Souks – or marketplaces – that can be found in the north of the city. Locals and visitors alike marvel at the labyrinth-like construction of these roofed-in markets that offers everything from food and carpeting to water jugs and spices of every color.
At the center of the city is Jemaa el-fna, an open square that is thought to be at least a thousand years old. During the day visitors can expect to find street performers dressed in colorful costumes, snake charmers, and orange juice stands but it is at night when the real fun starts. As the sun sinks below the horizon and the snake charmers depart the square begins to fill up with Chleuh dancing boys, story tellers, magicians, and peddlers of traditional medicine. Dozens of food stalls crowd the square as tourists and locals enjoy the nightly entertainment.
The Mosque of Koutoubia, thought to be the landmark of Marrakech, was first built in 1147 and boasts the oldest of three remaining great Almohad minarets in the world. The original Mosque of Koutoubia had to be knocked down because it did not align correctly with Mecca but was rebuilt by 1199.
The Majorelle Garden is a botanical garden that was created in the 1920’s by the French artist and expatriate Jacques Majorelle. Majorelle created a small paradise filled with exotic flowers and plants from around the world and a private residence modeled after Marrakech palaces. The lush gardens, pools, exotic birds, and the dazzling blue structures make the Majorelle Garden another must-see for any visitor of Marrakech.
So whether you’re a marathoner who wants to feel what it’s like to run down palm tree-line streets and through orange orchards and olive groves or just an eager traveler looking for the next great adventure Marrakech may be the city for you.