A race through a WWII airplane hangar, a jog past Mt. Rushmore, and the chance to earn a Star Wars medal from anywhere in the galaxy? Count us in. Every year, races jockey to provide the craziest, coolest, and most unforgettable experience for runners, and this year is no exception. The 2018 race calendar truly has something for everyone – here’s what we’ll be signing up for this year.
For the FOMO Runner: Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon
January 3 – March 31
Didn’t snag a spot for the Star Wars Half Marathon at Walt Disney World? It’s okay – use the force to log your own virtual miles at home. Run a total of 13.1 miles, either all at once or broke up into several runs, and submit your finish time on the RunDisney Website for a finisher’s certificate and commemorative Star Wars medal.
For the Oddity Explorers: Tustin Hangar Half Marathon & 5K
We haven’t heard this one before – a race that aims to make you feel like an ant. And it does, thanks to a course that cuts through the historic Tustin Blimp Hangar, a 17-story high, 1,088 long blimp hangar that once housed WWII airships.
For the Sisterhood: National Women’s Half Marathon & 8K
This inaugural women’s-only event generated buzz when registration opened last June for rolling entry fees starting at 1 dollar and progressed by five-dollar increments as spots were filled. A dollar is a steal – the course alone is a million-dollar race, looping around the Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial, and Korean War Memorial before finishing in West Potomac Park.
For Culture Kings and Queens: Rock ‘n’ Roll Oaxaca Half Marathon & 10K
If you like your races with a side of culture and tradition, the newest offering from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series is worth the trip. Oaxaca, a World Heritage City, has mapped out a course that is equal parts stunning and historic, from ornate churches, archaeological sites, museums, and colonial buildings made of green volcanic stone.
For Speed Freaks: Vitality Westminster Mile
Don’t say it’s “only” a mile – there’s nothing “only” about the mile race. It’s a leg-burning, lung-busting race that will leave you breathless – and wanting to do it again. It’s especially true at this famed London race, which starts on the Mall and finishes in front of Buckingham Palace, with large and loud crowds to cheer runners every step of the way.
For Wanderers: Da Nang International Marathon
Da Nang, Vietnam
Located in one of the most tourist-friendly areas of Southeast Asia, the Da Nang International Running Festival offers 5K to marathon distances along a pristine coastline. The community bands together to create an unforgettable race experience that includes well-stocked aid stations, helpful volunteers, and a ton of family-friendly activities for spectators.
For Sightseers: Mount Rushmore Half Marathon
Keystone, South Dakota
If you’re going to sightsee, might as well skip the souvenir shop and collect a race medal. This first-time race offers multiple vantage points to see the race’s namesake landmark and surrounding Black Hills. After tackling the tough course (almost 1500 feet of elevation gain), runners are rewarded with a beer garden where they can toast their favorite of the four faces.
For The Turkey Trotters: Six Tunnels To Hoover Dam Las Vegas Turkey Trot
Boulder City, NV
Eschew the traditional Thanksgiving dinner in favor of a trip to Vegas. Yes, we’re serious – after all, the coolest turkey trot takes place just outside city limits, at the Six Tunnels to Hoover Dam Turkey Trot. The event, which offers four races ranging from one mile to a half marathon, follows the Historic Railroad Trail along Lake Mead, through six tunnels and to the Hoover Dam and Colorado River Bridge. The best part? Vegas has more than 200 buffets, meaning someone else can take care of Thanksgiving dinner while you celebrate your new PR.