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Learn about the USA's rich track and field tradition and big events

Track and Field

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With over 760 Track and Field Olympic medals won – more than three times that of the next closest nation – the United States of America is a global force when it comes to athletics.

Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson are just some of the legendary names that show the true athletic talent that the US has to offer.

With the Olympics games on the horizon the biggest national championship track competition in the world will return to ‘TrackTown, USA’ (Eugene, Oregon) in July 2016

Over 1000 athletes compete for a chance to represent the United States of America at the Rio Games. In excess of 170,000 fans were in attendance in 2012 over eight days of intense competition. Fans can expect to experience local food and entertainment, meet star athletes and visit the high-tech interactive zone hosted by Nike - the world famous sports company who is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. There’s even the chance you might see a world record broken such is the quality of athletes competing.

Other major track and field competitions include the Penn Relays Carnival – the oldest and largest in the United States. Held annually in the last full week of April at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the event attracts over 15,000 participants and over 100,000 spectators.

Advocates of running who visit the United States are by no means limited to the track. Every year, thousands of runners from all corners of the globe flock to the USA for its many annual marathons. No other country in the world boasts as varied a spectrum of running opportunities: these races take runners through some of the country’s most beautiful cities, parks and rural spaces, past historic landmarks, some are even themed and there are all sorts of varying lengths and difficulty for every level of runner out there in all corners of the USA.

The Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon, dates back to 1897. The race contains the infamous Heartbreak Hill between miles 20 and 21, where competitors are expected to run up a steep hill with burnt legs towards the end of the undulating course. Thousands line the course to cheer on runners, as they do at the New York Marathon, which takes more than 50,000 runners through all five boroughs of the city on the first Sunday of November. The world’s fastest runners are always taking part as the race starts in Staten Island and ends in Central Park, crossing both the city’s rivers en route.

For a taste of the varied nature of running opportunities in the USA, check out the Rock’n’roll Marathon Series ‘the world’s largest running series, which more than 500,000 people do across 26 different cities in North America every year. In the USA, there are nine full marathons in the series, 13 half-marathons and a 10K in New York on offer, with the Rock’n’Roll USA Marathon in Washington DC in March the flagship event. This is the only marathon entirely run in the nation’s capital and the historic route passes the White House. The series was founded in 1998 with the mantra of making running fun, has raised more than $235 million for charity and features live bands along the course, including Goo Goo Dolls and Counting Crows in the past. You can take part in Nashville, Tennessee; Chicago, Illinois; San Diego, California; New Orleans, Louisiana and many more cities across the USA.

Another eccentric, boutique running experience in the USA comes in the form of wine country marathons, which take place in Santa Barbara, Napa Valley, Virginia and various other destinations, taking in some of the country's finest rural scenery, with flat courses and beautiful meadows. Elsewhere, try the Keybank Vermont City Marathon and relay in Burlington on Memorial Day Weekend or the USATF Indoor Championships in Boston in February.

A handy tip for visiting runners is to contact the local running club and check in with the hotel concierge to advise a great route near you - there always is one!