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7 Coolest Destination Races Around the World
From marathons with wine-tasting stops to a mettle-testing adventure race through Patagonia, we’ve discovered seven incredible reasons to make your next big trip a journey to the finish line.
We all know exercise is important, but summoning the energy to make it happen while on vacation can be a challenge—especially when the only available option is a tiny hotel gym with a mismatched set of rusty weights. So why not sync up your next vacation with a wild, adventurous, or downright delicious destination race? You’ll get the exercise you want without sacrificing the fun (and depending on the course, you might even get a tour of the city).
Creative adventure races are popping up everywhere, and expanding their availability. The Color Run is now offered in 100 US cities (plus more around the world), you can do the Tough Mudder on 5 continents. With options all over the globe, it’s never been easier to spice up your vacation and your workout routine all in one go. Check out these unique (and brag-worthy!) races in the US, Europe, South America and Australia.
The Color Run: New Orleans, Louisiana
Date: August 23, 2014
You’ll be seeing rainbows—literally—after completing this race. If you weren’t among this year’s 1 million participants, here’s how it works: On the morning of this 5K (3.1 mile) race through the city streets, you’re asked to wear all white. At every kilometer, you’re blasted (gently!) with a new color of powdered paint, leaving you at the finish line looking like one of dad’s tie dye shirts. And in New Orleans, the race has a twist—it’s sandwiched between a festival and parade. So you’ll be able to strut around in all your rainbow glory, sampling chili at the cook-off, dancing to live music, and hunting down even more adventure (the 2013 race had bungee jumping, wall climbing, and an inflatable slide). Who knows what 2014 will bring? Official race date to be announced here: http://thecolorrun.com/new-orleans/2014-08-23/
Adventure Level: 3 out of 10 (5 bonus points if you try bungee jumping afterwards)
Emerald Nuts Midnight Run: New York City
Date: January 1, 2015
They say how you spend January 1st sets the tone for the whole year. So why not start off on turbo speed running four miles through Central Park? Many people race in costume, and there’s always a pre-run dance party to pump up the crowd (and keep you warm!). As the race begins, a fireworks display lights up the night sky. And a word to the wise: you may want to spend as much time designing your costume as you do training for the run—the race is notoriously relaxed (they serve sparkling cider at the 2-mile mark), but the costume contest holds some stiff competition. http://www.nyrr.org/
Adventure Level: 4 out of 10
Marathon du Medoc: Pauillac, France
Date: September 13, 2014
Excited to meander through the French countryside, but worried you won’t have enough time for adequate wine tasting? Fear not. The Marathon du Medoc puts together an adventurous combination of the two—interspersed along the 26.2 mile (about 42 kilometer) course are 23 wine stops, complete with appetizers. As for carbo-loading, they’ve got you covered—there’s always a pasta party the evening before, with a bit of wine to whet your whistle for the next morning. The race has a new theme each year, and dressing up is strongly encouraged. http://www.marathondumedoc.com/
Adventure Level: 7 out of 10
World’s Toughest Mudder Series Finals: Englishtown, NJ
Ever get the impression that a normal Tough Mudder race simply isn’t intense enough for you? Those looking for an even greater challenge can check out the ultimate Tough Mudder. You’ll be given 24 hours to rack up as many laps as possible on an obstacle-ridden course—but the obstacles are kept secret until the day of the race. Cash prizes are boosted to reflect the increased intensity, so for those who train hard enough, the vacation could end up paying for itself. http://toughmudder.com/
Adventure Level: 9 out of 10
Pi Day Fun Run: Chicago
Date: March 14, 2015
Math lovers of the world, celebrate! The Illinois Science Counsel hosts an endearingly geek-tastic 3.14 mile (5 kilometer) “pi” day fun run every year on 3/14. In 2012, the organizers held a post-run party with thematically appropriate dessert pie and pizza pie, plus beer and math games (with prizes!). And since March 14 is also Albert Einstein’s birthday, people named Albert, Alberta, or Albertina get a $5 race discount. Naturally, participation is capped at 314 racers.
Adventure level: 2 out of 10
Warrior Dash: New South Wales, Australia
Need one more reason to check out the Sydney area? Try the Warrior Dash in New South Wales. It’s a 5-kilometer race with many muddy obstacles (think scaling walls, wading through water, jumping over fire, and climbing rope). As you finish, you’ll get a Warrior beer stein and an invitation to party with the rest of the champions, feasting on turkey legs and corn-on-the-cob amid live music. While you’re in the area and feeling sporty, take a trip to Royal National Park, the second-oldest national park in the world (after Yellowstone). The most popular thing to do in the park is the Coast Walk, where you can trek 30 kilometers (over 18 miles) up the beautiful coast of New South Wales. http://www.warriordash.com/
Adventure level: 6 out of 10
Patagonia Expedition Race: Chile
This epic 10-day race involves climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, and navigation. Many consider it the toughest adventure race in the world. The course goes through miles of nearly-untouched terrain in southern Chile, previously including glacial rivers, mountains, jungle, and peat bogs—which accounts for both its appeal and its incredible difficulty. Since the race was born in 2004, the shortest race was 320 miles (or 520 kilometers), and the longest was 680 miles (1112 kilometers). If you don’t already feel good about completing such a freakishly challenging race, consider this: your participation bolsters environmental preservation efforts in the Chilean Patagonia. http://www.patagonianexpeditionrace.com/
Adventure Level: 10+ out of 10
What to Pack:
You don’t want show up on race day without the right gear. Here are a few things not to forget:
- Lots of lightweight towels…you’re going to get dirty!
- Waterproof sunscreen
- A hardcore travel organizer to put all your muddy stuff in afterwards
- A change of clothes in your duffel bag.
- A camera, plus a case to protect it from grime
- A good pair of shoes (broken-in, of course…no new shoes on race day!)
- A small mud box
- Flip-flops or sandals for after the race
- A money belt to keep your valuables in
Have you ever re-routed your travels to participate in a road race, adventure race or mud run? Visit our Facebook page to share photos!