Maybe you’ve had a bad race experience, you’re prone to shin splints, or you just find the repetitive motion of putting one foot in front of the other boring. Whatever your reasons are (and we’ve heard them all), we get it — you’re not a fan of running. But why should you have to miss out on the atmosphere and experience of awesome races just because of your aversion to hitting the pavement? Turns out, you don’t!
If you’re ready to push your limits, earn a medal and have a blast — without running a road race — these seven competitions, from the silly to the super serious, might be perfect for you.
Location: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
Date: August 23, 2014
Time to wipe out! The Epic Fail Challenge, a TV-inspired 5K, promises “awesome thrills and crazy spills” on your way to the finish line. You’ll tackle 12 giant, inflatable obstacles that include jumping into a pit of foam blocks, sliding down a slippery slide, taking on a wrecking ball and dodging giant swinging objects. The course is currently only in Chicago, but will be expanding to other locations soon. Join the mailing list to be notified when you can sign up to participate in a city near you. Registration fee: $75 until August 21; $90 at the event
Locations: Newtown Square, PA; Brooklyn, NY; Bryce Resort, VA, Baltimore, MD
Dates: September 13, 2014; September 27, 2014; October 18, 2014; December 13, 2014
A four-mile, military-inspired obstacle course probably sounds tough enough. Tack on a five-minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible) workout called the PIT (because of where it takes place) and you’ve got the heart-pumping, not-for-the-weak Civilian Military Combine. Designed for hybrid athletes, CrossFit enthusiasts and anyone looking for a challenge, the race has participants choose a “PIT division” scaled to their fitness level then run, jump, and crawl their way to the finish. The competition is based off of a curved 200-point system, with points awarded for PIT scores and course time. Registration fee: $134
Locations: Brooklyn, NY; Piedmont Park, Atlanta, GA
Dates: September 13, 2014; September 28, 2014
If you’re more into “zen” than running 10, this “mindful triathlon” might be for you. The morning starts with a 5K race that has a few fun “surprises” along the course designed with the purposes of building community and zesty camaraderie to distract you from running. Then, all participants gather on the lawn for a guided meditation with live music, followed by an all-levels yoga class. Stick around after savasana for a dance party, acroyoga, slacklining, retro yard games and an artisanal food and craft market. Registration fee: $58 for a premium ticket (includes access to 5K run, priority mat placement, gift bag and charitable donation; free tickets include access to meditation and yoga
Locations: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL; Citi Field, New York, NY; AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA
Dates: October 18, 2014; October 25, 2014; November 23, 2014
The Men’s Health URBANATHLON transforms professional sports stadiums into grueling adventure courses designed to test endurance, strength, mobility and toughness. Instead of throwing passes and hitting line drives, participants spend their day in the park climbing over police barriers, swinging across monkey bars, crawling under cargo nets and Jeeps (yes, crawling under vehicles), and climbing the stairs. Registration fee: $125
5. GORUCK Light
Dates: Check the schedule for a race near you.
The four to five hour GORUCK Light will give you an accessible, but super challenging, introduction to the team-based training found in the military Special Operations Forces of the Army. Participants are assigned to show up at a starting point where they find water, wrapped bricks and a rucksack (militant lingo for a backpack) full of bricks, as well as the other members of their class and their cadre or coach. Expect push-ups, bear crawls, and carrying giant logs as a team along the seven to 10 mile journey. You’ll leave with new friends, a GORUCK Light patch and a whole lot of pride. Registration fee: $75 ($60 early bird, $85 late)
6. Electric Run
Dates: Check the map for a race near you
Throw on your brightest neon outfit, some LED bracelets and sunglasses and walk, dance or run through various themed course lands, including the Electro Rainforest, Rainbow Road, Electric Avenue and Sweet Tooth Acres. This race resembles more of an EDM festival than your standard 5K. There will be so much light, sound and excitement you’ll barely even realize you’re jogging (or strutting, or dancing, or jumping around). Registration fee: $59
Dates: Check the map for a location near you
Part scavenger hunt, part race and part sightseeing tour, the Great Urban Race has something for everyone. Teams meet at noon and have until 5:00 p.m. to solve 12 cryptic clues that lead to unique stops throughout their city. Participants are encouraged to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and prizes are awarded for the top fundraiser, the first three finishing teams and best team costume. Plus, the top 25 qualifying teams at each event will receive an invitation to the National Championship Race! Registration Fee: $50
Want even more race options to choose from? Check out our 25 ways to learn to love running. Don’t throw in the towel just yet!