It used to be that most races were predictable, serious affairs. The gun went off, you honed in on your target pace, battled an endless stretch of boring asphalt toward the distant finish line, and when you crossed it, gasping for air, you were herded like a reeling bovine through a paddock area to receive your allotment of banana bites, processed bagels, watered-down Gatorade, and if lucky, maybe a container of Yoplait yogurt.
Today, new running events are emerging that bring runners together in exciting places to push physical limits and immerse in destination-specific cultural interests. If you are willing to shell out some cash for registration and travel, you can find a race that takes you on a journey through a beautiful town or scenic trail system before dropping you off at a post-race party with good food, live music, or craft brews that will send you to the clouds before your heart rate heads south of 180.
We’re always looking to make running more fun, so here are four new races that came across our radar.
IPA 10K + Beer Mile
April 15, 2017
For a themed race to succeed, authenticity is paramount. With a whopping 52 breweries, distilleries and cideries based in California’s Sonoma Country, it seems this event has the ingredients ready. Combine that with average April temperatures in the 70s in the quaint town of Sebastopol that Jerry Garcia once called home, and you have the potential for a five-star running weekend. Start the day at 7:55 a.m. with a runner’s beer toast before the gun goes off. After the race, head to a festival featuring music paired with libations from local craft breweries like Bear Republic, Lagunitas, Henhouse, and Petaluma Hills. Oh yeah…there’s also a beer mile.
For your first off-road marathon
Boulder Mountain Marathon and 10-Mile Ascent
May 21, 2017
Many consider Boulder the running capital of the world, and this event, which takes place primarily on dirt roads and double-track high above the iconic city at an elevation of 8,000 feet, only adds to its cred. This is the race for you if you want to hit the dirt and push yourself on high-altitude terrain that has toughened many a world-class runner— you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the Flatirons to the south, and the snow-capped peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park to the north. After the race finishes, enjoy a Salomon-sponsored party and refuel with an amazing local, organic meal by RAD (Real Athlete Diets) and craft suds by Avery. The event also features a point-to-point 10-Mile Ascent, which climbs a grueling 2,500 feet up to the finish.
For fit foodies
Buford Highway Half Marathon
Oct. 1, 2017
The Buford Highway corridor just north of Atlanta is home to more than 1,000 immigrant-owned businesses, so it’s no surprise that this zone is an emergent foodie’s paradise. Burn calories over a half marathon, 10K, or 5K distance, and then dive into a festival that features cuisine from nine different restaurants—from Guatemalan and Columbian to Northern Chinese and Indonesian. Rumor has it the coconut buns from Hong Kong Bakery are the best post-race reward ever. Bon Appetit!
For your first 50
Dead Horse Ultra
Nov. 17, 2017
Thinking about a 50-mile trail race? To say this full-day desert journey didn’t disappoint is an understatement. The stunning sunrise, sci-fi-looking landscape of odd rock formations, sandstone canyon views, and largely runnable terrain in mild November temps, capped by a delicious post-race enchilada dinner, made this race a winner. Dead Horse began as a 50K two years ago, and on the heels of a successful effort, the producer, Mad Moose Events, rolled out the 50-mile in 2016. For 2017, they’ll offer 50-mile, 50K and 30K distances.