Running Wild: 10 Delightfully Different Running Events

Are you in a running rut? Tired of the same old trails and tracks? A recent conversation at the Nuun offices had us thinking about all the unique running events offered all over the US. In that spirit, we’ve put together a list of 10 running events to inspire more muuvement off the beaten path.  

The Zombie Charge: A 5k with obstacles is exciting enough for some runners, but the addition of menacing zombie hoards is sure to put an extra spring in anyone’s step. Runners wear three removeable flags on their person (like flag football) and zombie participants work hard to “infect” runners by removing all three flags before they cross the finish line. Zombies are played by volunteers in professional makeup, and the 5k race with obstacles is open to anyone over 10 years old, so the whole family can enjoy running for their lives.

The Krispy Kreme Challenge: This race (started as a joke between friends in 2004) has become one of the most debated topics in the Nuun office. Half of us think that running 2.5 miles, eating a dozen hot glazed doughnuts, and then racing 2.5 miles to the finish line sounds like fun. The rest of us think it sounds like pure madness. If you think you’re up for this carb-crazy challenge you can participate in Raleigh, North Carolina every year in February.

The Great Inflatable Race: This might be the only race where taking a tumble could actually improve your finish time. This family friendly 5k is a fun-focused course with giant inflatable obstacles and activities like a climbing wall, slides, and something called “The Castle of Doom.” The Great Inflatable Race travels to different locations around the country, so check their website to find a location near you.

Bare Buns Fun Run: Have you ever had a dream where you’re running a race naked? Neither have we. But someone did, and they turned it into the Bare Buns Fun Run 5k at the Tiger Mountain Family Nudist Park. While the event is clothing optional (so it’s not mandatory to race in the buff) they do note that many of the participants, officials, and spectators will be au natural. Don’t forget your sunscreen!

Underpants Run in Kona: If you’re not quite ready to let it all hang out at the Bare Buns Fun Run there’s a slightly more modest option in Kona in the week before the Ironman World Championship. In its 22ndyear, the Underpants Run has raised over $300,000 for local charities and continues to serve as a baffling sight to unsuspecting tourists.

Disco PBR: Before you start practicing your keg stands you should know that in this case PBR stands for Paddle, Bike, Run. This Montana-based event can be completed as an individual or in teams. With a 6k run, a 10k bike ride, and a 1k paddle board journey it will take a well-rounded athlete to toe-the-line at this event.

Foam Glow 5k: Billing itself as the “craziest 5k on the planet” the photos from this traveling event answer the age-old question: what would you get if you combined a race, a rave, and a bubble bath?  The answer looks like a lot of fun.

Beer and Bagel Off-Road Race: Started in Nebraska 25 years ago, this event is now in 6 different states but is still serving up the same strange combination of bagels, beer, and 4(ish) miles of challenging off-road running. Did we mention the homemade chili? What about the giant sasquatch? Look for both if you’re lucky enough to take part in this quirky run.

Barkley Marathons: Open to only 40 participants each year, this annual Tennessee ultramarathon trail race has only been completed 18 times since it began in 1986. In addition to a secretive registration process and some strange in-race requirements, the course itself includes massive elevation gains and a nontrivial amount of night racing. If that’s not enough to give you pause, then you might be brave enough to give this 100-mile monster a try.

The Great Alaskan Running Cruise: Not every vacation ends with a medal ceremony, but this one does. With onboard PT clinics and different running routes at each port of call, this Alaskan cruise gives you nine days of R&R (relaxing and running). Some runs are long, some are short, and some are scavenger hunts! You can expect to see waterfalls, glaciers, and plenty of other people who love running as much as you do.


Are you a fan of novelty runs? Have you participated in any of these unusual races? Are there other off-beat running events we overlooked? Share your stories in the comments!


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