As we approach the end of the spring half- and full marathon season, it's time to think about mixing things up a bit this summer. It seems every time we turn around, a new, wacky race series has sprung up--events that include colorful paint, foam, obstacles, water, mud, fire, or sometimes a combo of almost all of these things. Whether you're looking for a few laughs, a fun family activity, or a break from a training plan, give these races a look-see. (Many of them have a kids' race, too.)
5KFoamFest: While this sounds a little risque (or maybe it's just my pervy mind), it's good, clean fun. Well, with a little mud mixed in. These races are, you guessed it, 3.1 miles in length with 15 to 30 obstacles set up along the way, including climbing up and over walls, rope nets, and hay mountains. There are several water obstacles, with our fave being the "Ginormous Slip 'n Slide." Participants can opt out of any challenge that looks too, well, challenging. Eleven more race dates this year, from Texas on west.
Color Run: A, ahem, bright idea for a race, this 3-mile moving party requires participants to wear a white shirt. Then there are "color zones" at five intervals along the 5K course where volunteers pelt runners and walkers (all paces welcome) with non-toxic, "magical color dust." This race emphasizes fun: You can sign up as a team to help your friends or family get their color on, and strollers are welcome. Nationwide series with 36 venues (although many are sold out). (Similar race is Color Me Rad.)
Hero Rush: This new race series involves a firefighter-themed 5K obstacle race that allows for anyone to experience what it is like to be a firefighter. Participants climb ropes, navigate through confined spaces, drag equipment, slide down poles, and even possibly perform CPR. Course are at least 5K. Even spectators can take part in the action, getting to do challenges that aren't part of the course. This series has a strong charity component, supporting, in particular, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Nine more 2012 venues in this national series. (Use the code "anothermotherrunner" to get 15% off entry fee for any one of the races in Hero Rush.)
Muddy Buddy: Grab a friend for one of these races, that allow participants to either run or run-and-ride, taking turns but staying together the entire race. If you and your pal opt to run the entire way, you'll cover 3 to 4 miles and tackle 8 to 10 obstacles; if you go for the run-bike race, you run while your friend rides, then switch back and forth during the 6- to 7-mile race that has five obstacles. Both races culminate by crossing a 50-foot mud pit. Eight races nationwide.
Warrior Dash: You've probably heard of this dandy, which the organizers bill as the "world's largest running series" (despite its website being heavy on photos and video, lite on details). The course is loaded with obstacles, including the infamous fire that participants jump over. Costumes are strongly encouraged, and each over-21 participant gets a beer post-race. This nationwide series has a slew of race locations.