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9 Cool & Unusual Races to Run This Year

After our recent post about The Color Run, we were so inspired by finding cool and unusual races that we rounded up nearly 10 more fitness events you won't want to miss. We recommend grabbing some friends and signing up together — these races would be a fantastic way to celebrate a birthday, bachelor/bachelorette party, or other major life event.

Our biggest dilemma? Deciding how we're going to run all of them! We can't pick just one. Which are your favorites?

The Ultimate Mud Run
As if mud runs weren't messy and challenging enough, the new "ultimate mud run" kicks it up a notch by being the first-ever night time mud run held in the U.S. It's a 7+ mile course over uneven, wet grounds with 25 obstacles you must overcome. All obstacles are lit with spotlights and neon colors, and the entire path is illuminated with tiki torches and other innovative lighting systems. The run is being held in New Jersey, Florida, California, Massachusetts and Georgia. 

 

The Hot Chocolate 15k
Will you run for chocolate? We will! Nicknamed "America's Sweetest Race," runners of the Hot Chocolate 15k are treated to a post-race party involving a chocolate fondue, hot cocoa and chocolate treats from the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. Participating cities include Chicago, Dallas, San Diego, Denver, San Francisco, Phoenix, or Atlanta races.

 

The Color Run
Pretty much the most colorful race idea ever, The Color Run lets you get a little artsy on your 5k as you get doused with colorful pixel dust thrown on you by onlookers. Read more about it in our previous post.

 

The Oz Marathon
Held in the "Land of Oz", AKA the Garmin world headquarters in Olathe, Kansas, is the Oz Marathon, a wickedly fun race through the streets and trails of eastern Kansas. Not only can you sign up for the Oz Marathon, but there's also a Wickedly Fast Half, a Dorothy Dash 5k and even Munchkin Marathons for the kids. Hurry up and register – the race horn blows on April 21st!

 

Walt Disney World Marathon
Pull out your Cinderella dress, Pocahontas braids, and belly-baring Jasmine bralette as you prepare to run through the Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney World hosts a marathon, half marathon, Princess half marathon (!), "Family Fiesta 5k" and several kids races through their theme park, complete with Disney entertainment on-course. Plus, once you win, you may be so lucky as to receive a Micky Mouse or Donald Duck Finisher Medal. Score!

 

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon
If you're looking for a more mature, adult Disney running experience, try the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, a run through three Disney Theme Parks that ends at an exclusive after-hours party at Epcot to coincide with the International Wine & Food Festival. That's our idea of a fun night out.

 

Lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon
Granted, Lululemon is one of our favorite fitness brands, so perhaps we're biased, but this SeaWheeze Half Marathon held in Vancouver B.C. (hometown of Lululemon!) sounds quite enticing. It's not just a half marathon, it's a full day event. You start with sunrise yoga, complete the half marathon, shower/recover, then come pack for a concert and sunset yoga to round out the day. And, because it's sponsored by Lululemon, there's an apparel bonus! As listed on the site: "If you sign up by May 1st, 2012, you will receive a “special package’ from us. What is in this special package and why is it time-dependent, you may be wondering? Because we want you to train in rad product, that’s why." We're in.

 

Dog Runs
Don't leave Fido (or in our case, Pixel) behind! Check out all of the 5k and 10k dog-friendly runs across the country and sign up your marathon dog. We're thinking of getting Pixel registered for the All Star Dog Run in Santa Cruz. (Photo courtsey of the K-9 5K race website.)

 

North Pole Marathon
I mean, it's a marathon on the North Pole, run entirely on frozen water (of the Arctic Ocean). It doesn't get "cooler" than that.

Know of any other creative races that should be on our running radar? Leave us a note in the comments below or find us on Twitter.