Running is kind of boring. It’s a fact we had to face sooner or later. One foot in front of the other — mile after mile after mile.
Will it keep you fit? Yes.
It is a test of sheer willpower and mental strength? Sure.
Is it possible that you can achieve some form of clarity and even “runner’s high?” Supposedly.
But, for the average earthling, it’s inherently rather mundane.
Credit the internet, smart brands, Gen Y, general boredom, or perhaps our peculiar fascination with the impending zombie apocalypse — but the last few years have given the racing scene a much needed shake-up.
Check out six of the coolest races in the country — from the zany and quirky to the borderline insane — and find something fun to spice up your run.
Most Likely to See a Unicorn — The Color Run
This family-friendly 5K attracts everyone from the casual walker to the world-class athlete (mostly due to no one really seeming to care about winning.) Leave your good kicks at home, though. Staying true to its namesake, this race will leave you a human crayola, as each of the 5 kilometers greets you with a faceful of “elf-made” color dust. Don’t worry, asthmatics and overprotective moms, the chalk-like substance is 100 percent natural and safe — even edible (though we don’t recommend it). The grand finale — featuring what could be described simply as an exploding rainbow — is topped only by Lebron James in the “epic chalk toss” rankings.
Most Likely to Get Stabbed by Fuzzy Horns — Warrior Dash
How often do you get to jump fire, climb ropes, tango barbed wire and doggy-paddle through mud without ending up on the TV show Cops?
Welcome to Warrior Dash. The messy, Marine-style 5K originated in Chicago and has since spread to 65 cities in just three years — with estimated total attendance over 1 million people. The craze is even catching on overseas, with races in Australia, England, Canada and Ireland. What’s even cooler? At the end of each event, participants have the option to donate their sneakers (both from the race and from home) to the Green Sneakers program, helping children on a global scale.
Most Likely to Create Heart Complications (Not Really) — Run For Your Lives
Combining distance racing with an obstacle course and flag football, this race is absolutely bonkers. Set in the early stages of an apocalypse, your goal is to make it from start to finish with all of your health flags intact. Standing in your way: the undead. Avoid the zombies, but also choose your route carefully — your 5K can turn into a 10K in no time.
Most Likely to See an Unathletic Person Win — Great Urban Race
Teams of two make their way through both physical and mental challenges, all the while seeing a brand new side of one of 40 different race cities. Brains — or at least random trivia knowledge — favor highly over brawn as past clues have included everything from Greek dancing lessons to cryptograms and fish wrangling.
Are you smart and athletic? The winner takes home $10,000. Cool side note: The race has raised more than $300,000 for St. Jude’s Research Hospital.
Most Likely to Test Your Man(Woman)hood — Urbanathlon
Three locations, 9.5 to 10.5 miles and one bad Mama Jama.
This race is designed to bend, squeeze, smash and break you through a grueling course. Calling the deterrents in this race “obstacles” is a disservice. It’s jam-packed with bone-breakers. Police barricades, giant tires, more police barricades, cargo net crawl, traffic cone hurdles, pallet walls, parallel bars, Jeeps, taxis, busses, and top it all off with a 459 stair-set at Soldier Field — and you have Chicago. How tough are you?
Most Likely to Make a Really Good Book — Ragnar
Call up your best 6-12 friends and let them know that this year your vacation will be spent running a relay … for 200 miles. Now that we’ve weeded out the unlikelies, let’s get down to it. Regardless of team size, each person runs three legs over two days and one night. We’ll do the math for you — that’s between three and eight mile legs, depending on team size. When you’re not running, you’ll be busy playing cheerleader or co-pilot in your team’s follow vehicle. Besides high-fives and a beer-soaked party, finishing this race means finishing the world’s largest relay series. Make some memories.