7 unconventional fun runs
It’s not all about the time chips and glucose shots… these unique fitness events put a twist in the running experience.
Reward yourself after a dedicated training period with one of these good-time events that put the emphasis on fun, while still keeping your fitness top of mind. From hot chocolate to oyster shots, here are seven unconventional fitness events to have on your training horizon.
1. Marathon du Medoc
Oysters, red wine and soft cheeses aren't the refreshment fare at your standard long-distance running event – but then, the Marathon du Medoc definitely isn't your everyday marathon. Winding through the Bordeaux region of France, the hugely popular run meanders past centuries-old chateaux and encourages participants to savour local produce and wines along the way. This year Marathon du Medoc celebrates its 30th anniversary on Saturday 13 September with a carnival theme. As if this race couldn't get any kookier!
2. Warrior Dash
Brutal fitness and endurance events have become a kind of play sport over the last few years, and the Warrior Dash is no exception. Held at locations across the United States and now throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, it's the largest obstacle race series in the world, coupling a 3-4 mile course with 12 extreme obstacles. To date, the event has raised close to $10 million for the St Jude Children's Research Hospital, as well as raising the heart rates of thousands of competitors as they battle mud, water and fire to claim their Warrior helmet. After completing the dash, participants celebrate – warrior style – with turkey legs, beer and live music.
3. The Color Run
Paint the town red with this technicolour run that promotes health, happiness and individuality. Held all around Australia, the 5 km run takes participants – all wearing white – through four Colour Zones, here plumes of pink, orange, blue and yellow erupt all around in a visually breathtaking celebration. Once runners cross the finish line they receive a colour packet and join the brilliant masses for a hardcore dancing session. Join in the colour throws every 15 minutes, where colour packets are tossed into the air and clouds of bright dye rain down on everyone.
4. Walt Disney Marathon
With Mickey and Minnie in your cheer squad, this marathon might just be one of the most enjoyable going around. Held in January at Walt Disney World in Florida, the marathon is part of a festival of running that includes the full suite of distance events and plenty of kid-friendly activities. Jogging through four Walt Disney World theme parks, participants pass their favourite Disney characters, Disney's Hollywood Studios and the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Everyone's a big kid at heart and with so much to keep you occupied, the kilometres will fly by!
5. Dubbo Stampede
With the Taronga Western Plains Zoo as your backdrop, this event is all about the animals. Held annually on Father's Day, participants take part in races ranging from the 5.5 km Dingo Dash through the 42.2 km Rhino Ramble on courses that weave in and out of the zoo and surrounding township. A newbie on the running events calendar, this festival was first held in 2012 and is growing in popularity each year. With families encouraged to attend, the event celebrates community spirit and promotes getting active and finding a course that suits the tortoise or hare in all of us.
6. Hot Chocolate 15/5k
In a nation mad about its sweet treats, it's no surprise the United States has a running event dedicated to hot chocolate. Dubbed 'America's sweetest race', Hot Chocolate 15/5k was first held in Chicago in 2008 and has been rewarding those across the finish line with the hot flowing liquid ever since. Now run all over the country, it's a chance to burn up those calories out on the course and treat yourself with a chocolatey celebration at the post-race party. Ronald McDonald House Charities is the official charity partner of the series and participants can raise funds to support this worthy cause.
7. The Great Train Race
If racing humans isn't enough of a challenge, try giving a century-old steam locomotive a go. The Great Train Race is run annually in Victoria's Dandenong Ranges and sees runners going up against the iconic Puffing Billy train. Racing through the hills and gullies of this beautiful bush landscape, it's a spectacular 13.5 km race and its 3,300 spots fill up fast. Next year, save the date on 5 May for a shot at this fun, community-minded event – and who knows, you might just prove your mettle against the train.
(Images: Main: mpcom1photographe; Marathon du Medoc: Nicholas Babaian; Warrior Dash: Ben Stiefel; Color Run: mpcom1photographe; Walt Disney World: Austin Kirk; Taronga Western Plains Zoo: Corrie Barklimore; Hot chocolate: Macinate; Puffing Billy: Andy McLemore.)