We all have different ways of coping with the challenges of running. Some turn to audio books or music, while others try to gamify the experience and pretend they’re being chased by zombies. Injecting a little humour can also go a long way, especially when pain and fatigue set in.
If you’re tired of all the serious faces on your regular marathon, don’t add to them! Instead, pack your gear and try running in one of the world’s bizarre and wacky races. Costumes are optional.
1. Le Marathon du Medoc
Bragging Rights: RUI (running under the influence), stuffing self with good food while running
Hazards: Intoxication, indigestion, dehydration, projectile vomiting
Wack Meter: 10
Marathon du Medoc is a marathon like no other, combining running, costumes, fireworks, entertainment, fine wine and the best food the region has to offer. Held every September, this unique marathon takes place in France’s famed Bordeaux region and runners can indulge in 23 glasses of vin on the way to the finish line. Race president Vincent Fabre says the ultimate goal is not getting a good time, but having a good time. Agreed!
2. Man versus Horse Marathon
Bragging Rights: Outrunning one of the fastest animals ever
Hazards: Getting kicked or trampled by a horse, rough terrain
Wacky Meter: 7
It all started in 1980 when a landlord overheard an argument between two of the patrons in his pub. The argument was that over a significant distance across country (varying terrain), man and horse were equals. The race was organised to prove a point, but the horse dominated each event until 2004, when elite runner Huw Lobb finally won the event for humans and the 25,000 pound prize that came with it. Held every June in the small town of Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, the event attracts hundreds of runners and horses alike, although the horses aren’t allowed to fill out the forms themselves.
3. Walt Disney Marathon
Bragging Rights: Check out my shiny new Mickey Mouse medal!
Hazards: Seeing a cartoon character you really hated growing up
Wacky Meter: 8
Imagine running a full marathon – you’re tired, sweaty and probably in pain – then out of nowhere, Goofy jumps in your space and starts dancing around you while showering you with confetti. The most magical marathon in the world takes place in Disney World Resort, Florida and is jam packed with fun. Runners get to run in all four theme parks in the magical world of Disney and take in all the fun attractions lined up along the 26.2 mile course. Popular Disney characters and entertainment aim to distract cheer the runners, and participants get to live their childhood dream of meeting Mickey Mouse in the flesh. Plus, finishers get a Mickey Mouse medal!
4. Cooper’s Hill Cheese Roll
Bragging Rights: I only lost two front teeth!
Hazards: Concussion, broken bones, missing teeth
Wacky Meter: 10
If you thought a cheese roll was food, think again. This annual event in Brockwich, South Gloucestershire in the U.K. is one of the wackiest races ever. Contestants line up on top of Cooper’s Hill and prepare to risk life and limb to chase after a 9-pound, Double Gloucester cheese round rolling downhill. The race officially starts when the cheese is rolled from the top, and anyone crazy enough to chase after it runs down the hill. This is where it gets tricky. When you run downhill at a steep angle, you lose pretty much all control when gravity and momentum take over. The person who gets to the cheese first will win….drum roll please….the whole cheese round that he just chased after! Talk about cheesy motivation!
5. Burro Days World Championship Pack Burro Race
Bragging Rights: Hauled ass and won!
Hazards: Getting kicked or trampled by a donkey, rough terrain
Wacky Meter: 7
This marathon celebrates the burro’s (Spanish for donkey) role in the old mining days of this small town in Colorado. The yearly event is held during the last weekend of July, and this year’s Burro Days would fall on July 25 – 26, 2015. The actual race is tough and unpredictable because of the burro itself. Each runner will have to lead a burro carrying 15kg of mining gear across 29 miles of rough terrain and ascend 4,000m up Mosquito Pass. Riding the burro, using a whip or being physical with it in any way will lead in an automatic disqualification. Runners are advised to treat their ass right.
6. Krispy Kreme Marathon
Bragging Rights: 2,400 calories? That’s nothing!
Hazards: Indigestion, stomach ache, nausea, high blood sugar
Wacky Meter: 9
If you love eating donuts, head off to North Carolina, USA for the annual Krispy Kreme Challenge. The 5 mile charity run involves running 2.5 miles from North Carolina State Memorial Bell Tower to the downtown Krispy Kreme Store, where runners must stuff themselves with 12 honey glazed donuts packed with carbohydrates, sugar and a waistline popping 2,400 calories. After the donut debauchery, runners must head back the way they came for another 2.5 mile run and a shot at winning the challenge. All of this must be done in one hour. Imagine running 2.5 miles on a stomach full of donuts? I can’t either. Homer Simpson would love this race.
7. Weirdest Race: Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race
Bragging Rights: I think I just transcended…
Hazards: Boredom, insanity, more boredom
Wacky Meter: 10
Insanity is doing something over and over again, expecting a different result. That’s a little bit like running in the longest certified footrace in the world – the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race. Runners will have to run for 3,100 miles around an 883-meter city block, which translates to 5,649 steps for 52 days straight. They have to run around the block for 18 hours a day, with a minimum of 60 miles a day in order to complete this ridiculous race in the time given. 6 am each day, same 880-meter city block, same sights and sounds, 18 hours each day. Finishers will get the promise of transcendence, plus they’ll know what it feels like to be a hamster running in a wheel. You have to be a little nuts to run around the same block for 52 straight days, so hats off the all the finishers!
Honorable Mention: Loch Ness Underwater Marathon
Bragging Rights: I ran underwater!
Hazards: Getting eaten by Nessie, drowning, hypothermia, falling off rock ledges
Difficulty Meter: 10
Marathon runner Lloyd Scott was raising money for charity in 2003, so he decided to run an underwater marathon in the cold and murky waters of Loch Ness Lake. A one-off marathon, he donned an old diving suit and ran for 26.2 miles underwater and even fell 15 ft into a rock ledge 100m deep because visibility was almost zero. It took him 12 days to accomplish his run, but when he emerged on the other side, it was well worth challenge.
Run and have fun
While the sport of running demands our respect, it’s OK to have a little fun during a run. Take in the sights, enjoy the experience and appreciate the fact that you’re still able to run without injury! If you want a fun and bizarre adventure, try running in a marathon similar to the ones listed above. Almost every city or town has a fun, themed run of some sort nowadays. Join in and let off some steam!