Uncommon Race Distances – Running, Racing, Training, Marathon, 5k, 10k and Ultramarathons

Has it become hard to post a new PR?

Is your 5k, 10k, or 50 mile times about at your lifetime best, but you’re still wanting to set some Personal Records (PR) despite father time?

Is your dresser filled with Half Marathon and Marathon shirts and you wish to spice up your running apparel?

Can you do the standard mile/kilometer pace equivalents in your head? Then get off the well wore path of the common race distances and look for a new, unique and one of a kind race distance. Run a 10 miler, a 14k or maybe a 40 mile race. These uncommon race distances are out there, they are fun to run and instant PR material.

medals1(Race bling is nice, but PRs are better)

I have run a few to these uncommon race distances and found them both challenging and fun. The challenge, other than weather conditions, came about when trying to establish my goals and pacing plan. Most of us can map out our 10k racing plan in our sleep. How about a plan a 14k race?

Great Yarmouth 5 Miler:  During preparation for my first marathon, my training plan incorporated running a 5 mile Time-Trial (TT) to build and gauge my speed and fitness. During the build up for the marathon I got my TT time down to 37m03s. After my marathon recovery I found this club race run on a Wednesday night. Since it’s length matched my TT distance I figured it would offer me a opportunity to gauge where I sat. Great Yarmouth, UK is a little ocean side community with a waterfront boardwalk much like Atlantic City, Virginia Beach of the like. Toeing the line at Great Yarmouth, facing a cool and windy conditions I gave this 5 miler all I had.  After coming off the line a bit fast at a 5m47s pace in the first quarter mile I slowed down and settled into a nice pace. 5 miles later I crossed the line at 37m 23s. It was fun to run a local speed race, it was rewarding to battle thru the tough conditions and it was awesome to set a new PR.

South Mountain 8 Mile Race:  Run on Thule Air Base, Greenland run from main base to a point on South Mountain and back. I don’t remember much about this race other then I was not so much worried about the strange distance as I was caught up in a little grudge race with some Danish/Greenlandic fellows who blew by me on the start and offered up some not so encouraging words as they passed. I made it my goal to hang within sight of these two until the turn around point. Then as we headed the 4 miles back from South Mountain to main base I reeled them in and dusted them off. My finishing time and much other details is lost forever with my lost spreadsheet after I left Greenland. What was not lost was the fact I beat those two guys bad and I set a PR.

brianMTS15k(My first and only 15K)

Wellingborough MTS 15k:  This was my first cross country style race while stationed in the United Kingdom. At first I balked at running an off road type event.  Later after thinking about it and comparing the run to the challenges on the popular TV show Survivor, I figured I would jump on the trail bandwagon and give it a go.  After some research and recommendations I found this multi-terrain race. The course consisted of running three loops around a park covering varying surfaces and hills with one good size muddy (if it was wet) hill climb.  My goal: was to finish in less than 75 minutes or less and not be taken prisoner by the hills. The challenge was more than I expected although I finished with mud up to my ankles the clock ticked 73:01 as I crossed the line. I had a great time, enjoyed the challenging terrain and came home with a PR.

St. Charles 10 Miler:  A ten mile race sounded like a nice even number. The course for this event was advertised as a simple 10 mile loop on flat roads with just a slight elevation change. They were right, it was a 10 mile loop but this course was nowhere near flat. Two tough climbs at around miles 2 and 8 made this a fun but tough race. Overall I enjoyed everything about this event, the location, the people, the organization, the support and the nice new PR that I set by nearly 6 minutes besting my fastest 10 mile time in training. There is something to be said about the competitive juices of racing.

VA14k~brianmedal(A 14k for love)

Virginia Is for Lovers 14K: I love unique themed races and this one had it all. Unfortunately trying to figure out my pacing plan was as tough for me as it must have been for race organizers to plan the course for such a strange, but fun length. The conditions during this race were also terrible…with the wind and the cold. Mile 8 was by far the toughest and not just because it was the last mile. This section of the course had multiple switchbacks which had us fighting the wind head on for what felt like forever.  By this time the conditions were brutal, it was cold and the winds were heavy and seemed to be always coming right at you head on.  There comes a time in every race where you just want to be done and today this section was it.  I was so sick of the wind, the cold, and the turns that I only wanted to finish and be inside the nice warm field house to receive my “finishers medal and my new PR!

Running unique race distances is fun, entertaining and an instant PR. I know a few people who make it a point to search out and find these gems. Some events have unique distances:

Round the Bays Run, Auckland, New Zealand is 8.4 kilometers, Link here.
Falmouth Road Race, Falmouth, Cape Cod is 7.1 miles, Link here.
City to Surf, Sydney, Australia is 14k, Link here.
Great Aloha Run, Honolulu, Hawaii is 8.15 miles, Link here.
Charleston Distance Run, Charleston, West Virginia is 15 miles, Link here.
Marine Corp 17.75k, Prince William Forest Park, VA, Link here.
Uwharrie Mountain Run, 8, 20 or 40 miles, Ophir, NC, Link here.

Just to name a few. Looking to spice up your running log entries, looking for a unique distance no one else in your running circle has run or an instant PR? Go out and run an race with a unique distance.

What unique distance races have you run, post a comment and tell us about them.

3 thoughts on “Uncommon Race Distances – Running, Racing, Training, Marathon, 5k, 10k and Ultramarathons

  1. Paul Starling

    I just recently ran the Medoc Spring Race which was 7.45, but it
    also had an age and gender graded start to level the field.

  2. Still A Runner

    Love this idea of odd distance races. Years ago, I ran the Great Aloha Run in Hawaii, 8.15 miles from the Aloha clock tower downtown to the Aloha Stadium. A big community event more like a moving block party than a race. I also love the 10-mile distance. I direct the Capital 10-Mile (www.rcapital10-miler.com) in Harrisburg PA. People love the distance as a step-up and as a tune-up for upcoming 1/2’s and marathons.


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