If you’ve done your fair share of road races, fun runs and mud runs, these five unusual — literally off-the-beaten-path — events are calling your name. Push your limits by adding one, or all, of these wacky races to your bucket list.
February 1, 2017, New York City
Warming up for its 40th year, this race involves sprinting up — you guessed it — the Empire State Building. That means 1,576 stairs, divvied up among 86 flights. The fastest of the stair-climbers can expect to make it up to the observatory in about 10 minutes.
Lottery registration is now open, so if you’re interested, it’s time to sign up — and start training on the stair climber or, better yet, stadium bleachers.
May – October 2017, Worldwide
At first it might seem silly that a 400-meter run would peg itself as “the world’s most difficult race.” Then you consider that it takes place at an altitude of several thousand feet… and the 400 meters cruise Olympic ski jump slopes from Park City, Utah, to Kuopio, Finland. But once you’re on that hill, probably in a bear-crawl, with your chest pounding and the taste of iron seeping into your mouth, you know you’re likely to never again experience such a physically grueling feat.
“It is nothing shy of a max heart rate, calf cramps and hyperventilation,” says U.S. Olympic ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson, who crushed this year’s Red Bull 400 in Park City with a time just under 6 minutes. Every year, you can expect to run your heat (each one packs about 50 competitors) right alongside professional athletes like Hendrickson and Crossfit Games winner Camille Leblanc-Bazinet.
June 19 – August 9, 2017, Queens, New York
It’s bIlled as the world’s longest certified running race, where you literally run and sleep for 52 days straight.
Each day, for 52 days, runners complete laps around one unassuming block in Queens, New York, from 6 a.m. to midnight, until they’ve crossed the world’s longest footrace in the world off their bucket list. That means 59.6 miles per day. And, in total, 5,649 laps around a single city block.
Imagine covering 3,100 miles — by running around the same block over and over and over and…. well, that’s exactly what you do with the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile, which is as much about overcoming mental obstacles as it is about actual running.
Various dates and locations
We hope you have 11 friends who are as crazy as you are because to complete this 200-mile race, you and the 11 fellow runners on your team will trade off running day and night over a span of more than 24 hours.
Here’s how it works: One person on your team pounds the pavement at a time (everyone else hangs out in the team vans and cheers). Each team member runs three times, with each leg ranging from 3–13 miles. Ragnar Relay Series hosts more than a dozen road relays across the country.
October, Sunday River Resort, Maine
Undoubtedly the most bizarre race on this list, the North American Wife-Carrying Championship, which takes place in Maine each year, comes with Finnish roots and involves a man literally carrying a woman through an obstacle course. (Note: You don’t technically need to be man and wife.) Expect log hurdles, sand traps and one water challenge along the 278-yard race.
Still, the prize is nothing to laugh at. The winning couple takes home the woman’s weight in beer, five times her weight in cash and a spot at the Wife-Carrying World Championship in Finland. However, if you want to win the North American Championship, you first need to qualify through a regional wife-carrying event.
(Photo Courtesy: Sunday River)