Six Unconventional and Totally Awesome Races to Try

Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads.

Triumph at the CitySolve Urban Race. (Photo courtesy of CitySolve.)

Running a traditional race is a wonderful thing, and there are plenty to choose from around the region. Gloucester’s scenic Backshore 5 Miler along the coast, for instance, and the Run to Remember half-marathon from Southie to the Charles River and back again. But if you’re thinking you might be up for something a little bit different this spring, something a little more creative and endurance-minded, then rest assured. We have those, and in spades:

Merrimack River Trail Race 10M, Saturday April 14th, Andover
A muddy, messy hilly twisty out-and-back course tests your stamina and balance and ruggedness. And being mud-caked to mid-thigh makes you feel like a five-year-old all over again.

Wediko Climb for Hope, Sunday April 29th, Boston
Race up 46 ?ights of stairs as fast as you can (and take the elevator back down). This will have you huf?ng and puf?ng by the 10th story. And it?s for a good cause. I?ve never done a stair climb, but this looks like a good challenge. I?m told the trick is to use the handrail as much as you can to pull yourself up.

Tough Mudder New England, Sunday May 6th, Mt Snow (VT)
More boot camp than road race, this event combines ropes and walls and mud pits and barbed wire and strength challenges and mystery events into a total ?tness experience. Participants leave in waves rather than all starting at once, so it?s more like a time trial obstacle course.

Run For Your Lives, Saturday/Sunday May 5th/6th, Amesbury
Halfway between a cross country race and LARPing, with bands and a great party at the end. This is the ?rst year for this event and it?s already almost sold out. Volunteers in costume act as zombies and try to grab ?ag-football ?ags from the “human” competitors out on the course. If you ?nish with some ?ags ungrabbed, you get a medal.

CitySolve Urban Race, Saturday June 23rd, Boston
Race around the city solving puzzle clues and taking pictures of your destination. You?re allowed to take the T and run, but no cabs, no bicycles, no automobiles. You?re allowed to call friends for clue-solving help. A perfect test of thinking on the run.

Somerville Road Runners 26×1 Relay, Saturday June 23rd, Medford (Tufts Track)
A challenge between local running clubs (you have to be a member of a club to join a team), this event consists of 26 people each running one mile (four laps) on an outdoor track as fast as they can before handing a baton off to the next runner in line. The cumulative total is exactly equal to a full marathon distance. A good team effort can result in a satisfyingly fast ?nal time. It?s also fun to cheer on teammates as they wheeze and stagger through the brutal fourth lap on wooden legs.