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You Asked: Alternative Races

You're asking and I'm answering.

Hi Fit,
The Olympics inspired me to get out and race, but I am looking for something more fun than just running. I would like to do some kind of obstacle race or fitness challenge. I guess I am looking for the thrill of adventure with a fitness element. Can you help me find a race?
East Coast Adventure Gal

Wow! Sounds like you are looking for something that is a cross between parkour and an open water swim. The craziest race I could find was the Nettle Warrior Tough Guy race in the UK with obstacles like burning bales of hay, electric fences, and icy streams. Nettle Warrior also has the Guy Gorilla race on Feb. 1, 2009, but sounds like you want some stateside options, so


  • For serious fitness competition, there is the Navy Seal Fitness Challenge. The event combines a 500-yard swim, calisthenics (read: pull-ups and more!), plus a 1.5-mile run. You can participate in Chicago, San Antonio, LA, and Dearborn, MI.
  • The Urban Dare is part photo treasure hunt, part trivia, and part dares. The dares are mental or physical challenges such as climbing a wall, shooting a few baskets, solving a riddle, or eating something, but nothing slimy like you see on Fear Factor.
  • Urbanathlon is sponsored by Men's Health in Chicago on Oct. 18 as well as NYC on Sept. 27 (but this date is already sold out), and it is not just for the dudes. The entrance fee is $90, but you get a month's free membership to Crunch gym for training. This race is an urban obstacle course that uses features of the city to create challenges.
  • Rat Races are urban adventure challenges that take place all over the UK. Participants run, mountain bike, and kayak as they navigate a course revealed hours before the race begins. These could be an excuse to travel to the other side of the Atlantic without having to endure the downright craziness of the the Tough Guy races I mentioned above.
  • City Chase is an urban adventure laced with challenges designed to test not only your physical abilities, but your mental and spiritual ones as well. It is part obstacle course, and part scavenger hunt.

Hope you can fit one of these races into your schedule. If any of you have an "alternative race" to recommend, please share the details in the comments section below.


Join The Conversation
hampton889 hampton889 8 years
You should try adventure races. There should be local companies in your area that put them on. I live in Philadelphia and I like GOALS ARA. Adventure races can be all different length, but the shorter ones are 6 hours and involve running, mountain biking, canoeing, and a special challenges section. The special challenges section has involved mental as well as random physical challenges. It's a fun physical and well as mental challenge since nothing is predictable before hand. Most races start with a "random start", and the order in which you do the 4 sections is decided by this!
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i was just about to mention the urbanathon and you guys beat me to it. i know that it's a really hard day of working out and all that but it's a great day of different scenery and things to do. in NYC they've held it for a few years and it's running around the city - up buildings around buildings - it's just craziness and intense.
eroca87 eroca87 8 years
My sister is a HUGE Amazing Race fan...she even auditioned when they came through town once. Well, not making it on national TV did not stop her from competing in an Amazing Race. Just within her own community, she organized her own mini-Amazing Race. 2007 was the first year...and I just competed in her 2008 version. Twice as many couples signed up as last year...and it was sooo much fun. We used bikes to get everywhere and had a map of the area. She had volunteers (read: participants family members) at each checkpoint. We had to do everything from pull weeds (the local Green Team president was on hand to make sure we did the job) to mental puzzles to canoeing to eating an ice cream cone as quickly as possible. My boyfriend and I came in first this year! He wants to take the reigns and organize it next year, but I think I want to compete again. So if you can't find anything locally, just organize your own! Her only cost was the picnic we had after. All participants had an entry fee that went to the prize for the winner (a gift card).
zabrow zabrow 8 years
what about a mud run? i've never done one, but a friend has & he said it was super fun.
michlny michlny 8 years
City Chase looks like so much fun!!
susanec susanec 8 years
If you bike, there's always cyclocross. Good and muddy! And mean.
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