The newest legal way to visit Cuba: Run a marathon
For Americans, getting to Cuba legally is no walk in the park. Although now you can get there by simply running 26.2 miles in one... and likely on some streets and stuff, too.
Tourism company Insight Cuba now offers three totally legit tours to coincide with the Marabana Havana Marathon on Nov. 16 that will allow Americans to participate in either a half or full marathon. The main caveat: Applicants must have a previous record of running at least 13.1 miles in a competitive race. You don't have to be a record-setter; just a have a record. And there's even room for a cheering section, as companions are permitted to go under a people-to-people tour license, meaning someone can scrape you off the Malecón and light your Cohiba after you pass out from running a marathon.
This isn't the first time Americans have run Havana's marathon, as Insight Cuba arranged for 30 runners to race in 2011. But this time runners will have the approval of the U.S. Department of the Treasury under a new amateur sports license. As the tour company president Tom Popper told CNTraveler, "To our knowledge, no one else has run this kind of trip to Cuba".
Fortunately for participants, the trip involves some play and not just all work. Parts of the itinerary explore the province of Pinar del Río, strewn with tobacco fields, and the scenery of Viñales National park, one of the country's most stunning natural beauties.
Getting to Havana to race won't come cheap. But if you're ready to plunk down between $2,495 and $4,395, plus airfare -- and don't forget your custom-designed Nikes -- then it's time to pack up, strap up, and hit the pavement in Cuba's capital.
Chloe Pantazi is an editorial assistant on Thrillist's travel team. To date, the most she’s run is four miles but she'd be willing to try for another 22.6 if she gets to eat Cuban food after. Follow her to the finish line on Twitter at @ChloePantazi.