If you’re a serious runner, there are so many endurance events out there for you. From 5Ks to 10Ks, half marathons to the full 26.2 miles, you can pick a distance and a location and run to your heart’s content. But for the fun runner or someone looking to spice up running monotony, there are dozens of themed runs that take the fun of an endurance event to a whole new level.
After I complete my first Tough Mudder this weekend, I might check out a few of these to see which one makes me want to continue my running streak. And there are certainly a lot to choose from. From short fun runs with zombies to crazy long obstacle-laden courses even more challenging than the Tough Mudder, there are runs out there for every level of competitor. For most of these, a sense of humor and adventure is mandatory.
So if the thought of running mile after mile leaves you uninspired, check out one of the many fun runs out there that are guaranteed to spice up those monotonous miles.
16 Crazy Races to Try 1 of 17
Here are 16 crazy and kooky races that would be fun to try!
Photo credit: Dawn - Pink Chick, Flickr (bottom left)
Color Run 2 of 17
Known as the "Happiest 5K on the Planet," the Color Run is an untimed race that is all about positivity and colorful energy. Participants are doused with color at each kilometer and end the race a rainbow from head to toe. Color Run events happen all across the country throughout the year, so go get happy at one near you!
Great for: Relaxed runners looking for a colorful run!
Photo courtesy of Mandy Menaker
Electric Run 3 of 17
The 5K Electric Run is a night run that incorporates lights and music to create an "electric wonderland" that's far from boring. Glowing neon lights, rainbow lasers, and colored fountains are just a few of the sights you may see in this electric wonderland. Electric Runs occur throughout the year in various cities, so check to find one near you!
Great for: Runners who don't want to get up at the crack of dawn to race!
Photo courtesy Georgette Yacoub
Run Disney 4 of 17
There are so many Disney races to consider, and I imagine running is significantly more fun in the Happiest Place on Earth. From the Tower of Terror 10-Miler where you can run from Disney Villains in October, to the Disney Princess Half Marathon where you can embrace your inner princess, runners can pound the pavement while enjoying Disney sights. There is also a full Disney marathon or a 5K Expedition Everest Challenge with obstacles, so all kinds of runners can get in touch with their inner child!
Best for: Runners who are kids at heart!
Photo credit: CandaceApril, Flickr
Empire State Building Run-Up 5 of 17
Better at the stair-stepper than going distance? The Empire State Building Run-Up is your opportunity to run stairs—1,576 of them—like a boss. This year the event is in February, but space is very limited so you have to apply.
Best for: Lovers of skyscrapers and stair-running who are lucky enough to win a lottery.
Photo credit: dzhingarov, Flickr
Bay to Breakers 6 of 17
Need a reason to visit San Francisco in May? Bay to Breakers is an annual run that brings out the city's most colorful side. The 12K cross-city run treks from San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Coast where waves (breakers) crash. With serious and costumed participants alike, you may even get treated to public nudity.
Best for: Free-spirited exhibitionists, serious runners, and everyone in between!
Photo credit: Keved, Flickr
Tough Mudder 7 of 17
The Tough Mudder is a 10- to 12-mile obstacle course fraught with peril: fire, mud, obstacles, electric shocks. This is the one I'm doing this weekend, and I'm slightly terrified. While it's tough, participants are encouraged to go for camaraderie and fun, rather than a fast time. It's meant to be a personal challenge for yourself, and there is no penalty for skipping obstacles. With events around the country throughout the year, pick one close to you or travel for muddy fun.
Best for: A group of seriously in-shape buddies who want to push their limits.
Photo courtesy of Miguel Roxas
Spartan Race 8 of 17
The Spartan Race also throws mud, fire, water and barbed wire at you, but it's more performance-based than the Tough Mudder. With 3-mile, 8-mile and 10-mile events across the globe, there could be one near you. The Spartan race "strongly discourages" skipping obstacles and applies a burpee penalty if you fail to complete one.
Participants hang tight to avoid that burpee penalty, according to Zackary Hendrickx, pictured above. "At this point, I was well over three hours into the race and had just finished a 30-burpee penalty for missing the spear throw. There was no way I was falling off that wall."
Best for: The seriously tough, seriously competitive athlete.
Photo courtesy of Zackary Hendrickx
Warrior Dash And Other Mud Runs 9 of 17
With a 3- to 4-mile race filled with 12 obstacles, the Warrior Dash will push your limits. You can find Warrior Dashes all over. The shorter distance may just be a good bet for preparing for a longer obstacle race. Likewise, Mudderella is a 5- to 7-mile muddy obstacle course, while the Dirty Girl run is a 5K mud run for women only. In short, there are lots of ways to get really muddy.
Best for: Anyone preparing for a long-distance obstacle event or someone who just wants to have some dirty fun!
Photo courtesy of Warrior Dash
Zombie Runs 10 of 17
Zombie races combines peoples' fear of zombies with the fun of running an obstacle race. There are various versions, like Zombie Run or Run For Your Lives, but you basically get a flag belt with flags representing your health and try to avoid getting them taken by zombies. If you've ever wanted to live a horror movie, here's your chance!
Best for: Someone who is way into zombies and doesn't mind getting spooked!
Photo courtesy of Run For Your Lives
Mustache Dache 11 of 17
Want to put on a crazy mustache during a 5K to raise awareness and funds for men's health, with an emphasis on prostate cancer? The Mustache Dache is for you! Events are held in November, so see if there's one near you!
Best for: Those who love a good mustache and who love to support a good cause.
Photo courtesy of Mustache Dache
Urban Iditarods 12 of 17
Combine people with shopping carts and a food drive and a bar crawl, and you've got the Boston Urban Iditarod. With checkpoints with fun challenges, this team race is all for a good cause. Participants race for a distance of about 3.5 miles, so it's a short race with big benefits! The event is the first day of March, so sign up now. If you're not in Boston, check out the Chiditarod in Chicago or other various cities throughout the country. Note: The event is sometimes called the "idiotarod."
Best for: Philanthropists and shoppers who like to bar crawl for a good cause.
Photo courtesy of the Boston Urban Iditarod
Run Wild! 13 of 17
If zombies are too much but you'd still like to get a little wild, Run Wild! The Franklin Park Zoo in Boston recently had a 3.1-mile run that took runners through the zoo. An upcoming 5K race in Stoneham, Mass., on Oct. 26 will let runners trek through the Stone Zoo.
Best for: The short-distance racer who loves the zoo!
Photo courtesy of Run Wild!
Turkey Trot 14 of 17
Turkey Trot races are a fun way to get out on Thanksgiving Day morning and fit in some exercise before you stuff yourself with turkey! Don your best turkey or pilgrim costume and have fun! These events are typically 5K distances and very family friendly, with short-distance events for kids, too. Find a trot near you and check your specific race for details.
Best for: Those who want to get ahead of the Thanksgiving Day food coma.
Photo credit: E2Brutai, Flickr
Bad Prom Run 15 of 17
Want to get more mileage out of a really bad prom dress? Put it on for this fun 5K. You'll get to run through cheesy prom themes and have a dance party at the end. Find a Bad Prom Run throughout the year in a locale near you. You'll probably want to leave the strappy heels at home.
Best for: Someone who had a terrible prom who would love to have a great prom time!
Photo credit: holisticmonkey, Flickr
Underwear Runs 16 of 17
Ever thought to run in your skivvies? Here's your chance! Yep, at the Freshpair Underwear Run, runners do run in their underwear! This 1.7-mile fun run takes place in NYC's Central Park every year on the Friday before the New York City Triathlon. Next year's race will be in August, so you've got plenty of time to prepare to bare. If you miss out on that opportunity, there is also the Underwear Affair, which is a Canadian run that benefits cancers below the waist.
Best for: The showoff who loves short distances!
Caliente Bare Dare 5K 17 of 17
Underwear too much for you? Yep, you can run au naturale in the Caliente Bare Dare 5K in Land O'Lakes, Fla. Nudity is not required, but it sure makes it more interesting, I'm sure. The 5th annual event will take place in May, so mark your calendars. There are apparently about a dozen or so nude runs in the United States, so if that tickles your fancy, check them out.
Best for: Those who have always wanted to streak.
Photo credit: Foxtongue, Flickr
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