Runners looking for their next challenge have myriad options. Races are no longer limited to running on a road or trail, nor are they limited to a single day. Trying out a new and different race can add variety to your race calendar and test yourself in new ways. These can include obstacle, relay or mud races.
- Ragnar Relay. I’ve done Ragnar four times; I’ve finished the Ragnar Del Sol three times and McDowell Mountain Ragnar Trail once. What is Ragnar? It’s a relay race of 12 runners in which you run about 200 miles. It starts on a Friday and takes until Saturday to finish. Some people get crazy with teams of six ultrarunners. My total mileage each time has ranged from 15 to 17.5 miles. It’s the most intense race I’ve participated in because you get no sleep and you run three times over 24 hours. In theory running three times sounds OK, but when you’re sore and stuffed into a van with five other sweaty runners for a night, things get a little tricky. It’s also a ton of fun, and you really bond with your teammates in a short time. Ragnars have popped up around the country, including a new one in Hawaii!
- Spartan Race. I haven’t tried this obstacle race yet, but it intrigues me. Spartan Races, which have varying distances, even scare me a little, but I think one would be a fun challenge. Races range from Sprint for beginners to Beast, which is the most difficult of the three types. They are held around the country.
- Tough Mudder. The 5-12 mile races incorporate mud into the fray. There’s also a 24-hour challenge that I can imagine is quite the battle! This race is also held around the U.S. I often see people with Tough Mudder shirts on the Lakefront Trail in Chicago.
- Your first half or full marathon (or for beginners, any race really). The first half or full marathon is the toughest because you don’t know what to expect. Training consumes your life for months and then anything can happen on race day. But you can’t beat the feeling of crossing that finish line to meet a goal you’ve set for yourself. My first marathon was the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon in Louisville.
- Goofy Challenge and the Dopey Challenge. One of my good friends completed this challenge over the past few years and I was seriously impressed. What is it? You run a half-marathon one day and a full marathon the next day. Disney races are popular, so you want to sign up as early as possible. Want to test yourself even more? You can do the Dopey Challenge, in which you run a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon over the course of four days. These races are also a fun way to turn your race into a vacation, because you can also explore Disney World. How fun is that?