Unless you're a serious runner, peeling yourself out of bed in the morning to hit the pavement can be a real struggle. Fortunately, there has been a major increase in the number of non-traditional (see: fun) races around the world; in fact, according to Running USA, there has been a 40x increase in finishers of non-traditional races from 2009-2014. This number includes races like The Color Run, Spartan Races and Tough Mudder, to name a few of the most well-known. For all of you would-be runners out there who aren't motivated by slogging around through mud or scrambling over obstacles, we've found some of the most bizarre, inventive and truly hilarious races out there for you to try out.
In full disclosure, this race is only for those will stomachs of iron, who might harbor fantasies of competing in the Nathan's hot dog eating championship. Organized by the New York Rogue Runners, the New York Hot Dog challenge includes running or walking the 3-5 mile course (depending on the year) and, at each of the 10 hot dog carts you come across, you must eat a hot dog (with bun) before continuing the race. Although this years' event just passed, it's a good one to make a note of for next year — and if you're an NYC native, check out the other races the New York Rogue Runners put on.
Location: New York City, N.Y.
An urban take on the classic Alaskan Iditarod, the Chiditarod (Iditarod in Chicago, get it?) involves shopping carts instead of sleds, and a team of five people instead of dogs. The teams are made up of four pullers and one musher, and each team dresses up however they want. Before the race, each team is required to start with their carts full of food for donation. Since the first race in 2006, the Chiditarod has raised over 100,000 pounds of food and more than $100,000 in direct donations for charities in Chicago. Per the Chiditarod website, the race is "a one-of-a-kind event dedicated to self-expression — part charity food drive, party beauty pageant, part bar crawl, all costumed shopping cart race. An epic spectacle like no other."
Location: Chicago, Ill.
Dubbed "The Sweetest Race," the Hot Chocolate 15k and 5k races started in Chicago in 2008 and have since spread to 14 other cities across the U.S. After running either race, finishers are met at the end with mugs filled with hot chocolate, chocolate fondue and a variety of treats to dip in all of that chocolate. Since it started, over 200,000 people have participated, and the races help raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Location: 14 cities across the U.S.
2,400 calories, 12 doughnuts, 5 miles, 1 hour: We'll just put that out there so you know what you're getting into from the beginning.
What started as a challenge among ten friends at North Carolina State University has transformed into a nationally publicized charity race, with proceeds benefitting North Carolina Children’s Hospital. On February 8, 2014, the race had more than 8,000 participants for the 10th Annual Krispy Kreme Challenge, and they raised $200,000 in donations. The 2015 race just passed, but if you're in the area be sure to jot it down for next year.
Location: Raleigh, N.C.
If you've harbored dreams of running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain but don't quite have the stomach for it, head down to New Orleans for their take on the celebrated pastime. During this one-mile race, runners try to evade the hundreds of roller girls dressed up as bulls and wielding plastic bats. Runners typically dress in all white with red details (like bandanas or belts) per the Spanish custom, and there are plenty of Bloody Mary stands along the course. There are no winners or losers; instead, the event is meant to kick off a four-day festival that mimics the one that takes place in Pamplona in July.
Location: New Orleans, La.
The Cupid's Undie Run is more serious than it looks, but it's still a blast. More than just a one-mile run in your underwear in February, the race began as a way to fundraise for the Children's Tumor Foundation, and raised $2.8 million dollars last year alone. The race takes place over Valentine's Day weekend in 38 cities in the U.S. and Australia, so keep it on your calendar for registration in 2016 — you can also submit your city to participate here if it isn't a current location.
Location: 38 cities in the U.S. and Australia
"The race that thinks it's a party" is a 14k/7k race throughout downtown Cincinnati for both runners and walkers. The race starts at the Moerlein Lager House, and takes participants along a challenging course through Cincinnati, passing old breweries along the way. All runners and walkers are given finisher's medals at the end, and there's a post-race party with Skyline Chili, Hudepohl beer and music to enjoy on the lawn by Morelein Lager House.
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Come one, come all: It's time to break those red dresses out of your closets. Sponsored by theHash House Harriers, a global running club that describes itself as "a drinking club with a running problem," has created a crazy race that doubles as a fundraiser in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
The run is usually around 3-4 miles (although no one measures it) and the registration (and drinking) start at 9 a.m. If you don't have a red dress, the Hash House Harriers will help pick something out for you, for better or worse. Afterwards, there's a party in the French Quarter where the hashers will lead everyone in singing bawdy songs and "celebrating the city's uniquejoie de vivre (joys of life)." The next Red Dress Run will be on August 8, 2015.
Location: New Orleans, La.
All Star Wars fan rejoice! A few weeks ago, Disney hosted the first Star Wars Half Marathon, and a whole slew of characters showed up to tackle the course, and show off their carefully planned costumes. The race takes you through Disney California Adventure Park, past Disneyland Park, and through the surrounding streets. If you're looking for a bigger challenge, you can tackle the Rebel Challenge, which includes a 10k race on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday.
Location: Anaheim, Calif.
10. Electric Run
If you're more of a clubber than a runner, this is the race for you. Complete with glow-sticks, glow-in-the-dark paint and neon costumes, this is the race for those who typically prefer dancing to running. As you wind your way through the 5k course, bumping music and bright flashing lights keep you motivated, and at the end of the race there is a DJ who will spin the latest tracks for you to dance the night away.
Location: 23 cities across the U.S.
This sounds like a race straight out of the middle ages, but it's the real deal. From the Wife Carrying website:
Wife Carrying originated in Finland, and its history is based around the 19th century legend of Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen, or "Ronkainen the Robber." There are three stories as to how the sport was created: First, Ronkainen and his thieves were accused of stealing food and women from villages in the area he lived in, then carried these women on their backs as they ran away. Second, it has been said the men would go to villages near their own to steal other mens’ wives, and then marry the woman themselves. Third is the story that Ronkainen trained his thieves by carrying big, heavy sacks on their backs, which could have eventually evolved to a sport.
Husbands have to complete in a course full of obstacles, including logs they have to jump over and pools of water they have to wade through. The winning couple takes home the wife's weight in beer, five times her weight in cash, and an entry into the World Championship, which takes place in Finland the following summer.
Location: Sunday River, Maine
Tags: CRAZY RACES, English, LIFESTYLE, RACES, RUNNERS, RUNNING, TRAVEL, TRAVEL & LEISURE, WORK & PLAY