Is running that familiar marathon distance getting routine?
Have you raced too many half-marathons?
Does the 10k simply lack the appeal it once had?
When you get tired of the traditional races try one these unique distance/format races to spice up your running and racing relationship.
(On my bucket list for sure)
Stage Races: Whether it’s the Last Annual Vol State 500k or the TransRockies 120-mile run in the Rockies…a stage race just might be what you need to re-light your endurance flame. Set over multiple days the race distance is broken into manageable but challenging segments to test your endurance moxie. What these multiple day races offer, is a chance to test yourself over increased distances, running on successive days, and an opportunity to bond with fellow runners over a large period of time. It’s one thing to show up to a race, run, finish, and cheer on a few friends. The time you will spend with your fellow races over multiples days will create lifelong bonds.
Personal Experience: I have not run a stage race, but it is something I am interested in doing in the future.
Timed Events: A marathon has a definitive finish line, you either run 26.2 miles or you don’t. To mix things up try a timed event such as a 6, 8, 12 or 24-hour event where you log as many miles as you can in a given amount of time. The winner isn’t the one who crosses the finish line first, it’s the runner who can manage their body, their emotions, and the race conditions while keeping their will to keep moving intact for the entire period of the timed race.
Personal Experience: I’ve run 13 timed races, 12 x 24-hour and 1 x 12-hour. I cut my teeth and learned a lot about ultrarunning and myself running 24-hour races. My best outing is 96.725 miles.
Last Person Standing Race: There are various formats of varying distances and time but here is the idea. This distance and format I borrowed from Jimbo’s East Coast Summer C.R.A.P. Fest: A timed loop race over a 1.6-mile trail loop. For your first-time round, you get 37 minutes to complete the loop. After 37 minutes, you start lap 2 – this time you get 36 minutes. The third loop you get 35 minutes, then 34 minutes, and so on. If you miss the start of the next loop, then your race is over. The last person running “Standing” is the winner. A version of this race format lasted 67 hours at the Big Backyard Ultra.
Personal Experience: I have not run one of these events, but this format intrigues me. It appears like a balancing act between pacing and endurance.
(2012, my first relay race…tons of fun)
Relay Races: Tired of running alone? Try a 200ish-mile relay race with a bunch of your family, friends, and or co-workers. In this concept, teams are comprised of between 12 and the minimum number (normally 4) of runners your Race Director allows. Teams cover the race distance with each team member running their “share” of the 200-mile race. The non-stage running members pile in a van and meet up at the next exchange point to launch off the next runner as they take on their stage. This routine is played out over 30+ hours. The team with the lowest accumulative time wins. Teams also compete in some unofficial team heckling, van decorating, and other mischiefs along the way.
Personal Experience: I’ve run 1 relay race. The Colonial 200 in 2012. I ran the event with 5 of my friends. This race ranks as one of my all-time favorite running experiences. We ran, we laughed, we ran some more, and we laughed until we lost our turkey Subway sandwich.
It happens to the best of us. One day you’ll get bored, your eyes and your heart may wander. It’s okay, the Stage Race, Timed Events, Last Person Standing, and Relay Races are wonderful avenues to test your endurance, have some fun, meet new people, and scratch the running and racing itch.