These Adventure Runs Are the Best Way to See the World on Foot
Runners who finished the race may not have been planning to challenge themselves with treacherous conditions on top of a 26.2 mile run with a lot of hills. But other athletes and weekend warriors like seeking out races and runs that come with extra thrills and obstacles (sometimes literally).
Adventure runs are becoming more and more popular. Some have challenging courses with steep climbs and rugged terrains. Others have puzzles to solve and maps to follow. And others have actual obstacles to conquer as part of the course. Here are a few of the best.
Hokuala Trails in Hawaii
You can take a self-guided tour of the 17 miles of hiking, running and biking trails on the southeast coast of Kauai. The paths take you under a canopy of giant monkey pod trees, along the coastline, and through a rainbow eucalyptus tree grove. Try the five-mile Shoreline Trail along the ocean, or weave together several of the smaller loops.
Teton Ogre Adventure Race in Teton Valley, Idaho — June 23–24, 2018
Grab a partner or a group to battle it out on the Teton Mountain Range in this race that combines trail running, trekking, mountain biking and ropes courses. There are two options for races: 24 hours, which also includes a paddling portion, and 10 hours. Teams of two to four cover 85 to 90 miles by bike, 10 to 15 miles by foot and 10 to 15 miles in class I to II rivers.
Spartan World Championship in Lake Tahoe — September 29–30, 2018
This year, athletes will compete for more than $100,000 in cash and prizes in the final event of the 2018 obstacle racing season. Runners tackle up to 60 obstacles, including the spear throw, bucket carry, and monkey bars, all at 9,000 feet of elevation.
Box Canyon Running Series in Telluride
This series of races, from 5ks to half marathons to 20-milers, cover the Telluride Box Canyon. The Bridal Veil 20 Mile Trail Run covers an elevation gain of 5,500 feet to take you to the top of the top of Bridal Veil Falls. The Deep Creek Trail Half Marathon follows the Waterline and Jud Wiebe trails through the canyon with picturesque views. The Bear Creek 10 Mile Loop takes you up to 12,200 feet with a 3,500-foot elevation gain.
La Luz Trail Run in Albuquerque, New Mexico — August 5, 2018
This race takes you straight up the Sandia Mountains at the edge of Albuquerque for nine grueling miles. You start in the desert foothills amidst cacti and climb 4,000 feet to the mountaintop, where you are surrounded by an alpine forest. The views at the top make the difficult trek worth it.
Mt. Taylor Winter Quadrathalon, New Mexico
If just running alone isn’t enough for you, try this race. It starts with a 13-mile bike ride, then a 5-mile run, then a two-mile cross-country uphill ski course, and then a one-mile snowshoe climb to the 11,000-foot summit of Mount Taylor.
Zombie Mud Run
There are plenty of mud runs out there that force you to run through and climb over and under obstacles while getting covered with mud. But how many of them also have zombies? The Zombie Mud Run series of races in various locations have zombies stationed along the course who try to steal the flag belts worn by runners. If you finish with a flag still in your belt, you survive. If you don’t ... Well, you are now a zombie.
The Dipsea Race in Mill Valley, California
This race claims to be the oldest trail race in the country. Its 7.4-mile course takes you from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach along a scenic but challenging course filled with stairs and steep trails. The race employs an unusual handicapping system that gives the very young and the very old a head start to even the chances at winning. It is so popular that you have to apply to run.
The Indy Ultimate — September 8, 2018
This is an urban adventure run with puzzles and activities to complete along the course. Adventurers pass through well-known spots like Lucas Oil Stadium, Victory Field, the Indiana War Memorial, and more. Each stop features a unique activity, from kicking a field goal to running the bases to making it through an obstacle course.
This ultimate trail run is so infamous it inspired a documentary about the people crazy enough to try it. You have to apply to run, complete with an essay on "Why I Should be Allowed to Run in the Barkley.” If accepted, you receive a "letter of condolence” and then must tackle a 20-mile loop course with clues along the way to help you find the route. If you do one lap, it’s called a “fun run.” The most hardcore runners aim for five laps.