We’ve all heard of a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and full marathon right? Of course we have!
Well what about those other race distances that are not so common? Who knew there were so many of them! I definitely didn’t until now. There are plenty of unique races all over the country (and world!) that are a fun way to challenge yourself to something new.
Maybe you’re training for a long marathon and want some practice, you’re looking to break a new personal record, or maybe you’re just feeling bored with your running routine and need to change it up.
Whatever the reason may be – these unique race distances are something worth looking into – and a great way too add a little extra pep in your step.
Unique Race Distances
State Street Mile
June – Santa Barbara, California
Also known as the Unofficial Dog Mile World Championship, four-legged friends are welcome to run alongside you! This race is knowing for being the fastest mile race in the world because the course is completely downhill.
Photo credit: State Street Mile
Ohio State 4 Miler
October – Columbus, Ohio
The largest 4-mile in the US with 15,000 participants! This race falls during football season – so it is packed with Ohio State Buckeye fans from all over. The race course loops around the campus and the finish line is right on the 50 yard line of the football field. A fun way to celebrate fitness and football!
Get Lucky 7K
March – Minneapolis, Minnesota
A 4.35 mile run is one way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! This race celebrates the March holiday with a run through downtown Minneapolis. Not only is there a 7K, but a 14K and half marathon as well if you’re ready for more of a challenge. Runners can grab a free beer at one of the local Irish pubs after the race to keep the festivities going.
Photo credit: Monster Race Series
Shamrock Shuffle 8K
March/April – Chicago, Illinois
Another ode to St. Patrick’s Day – and one to kick off the running season in Chicago. This race is a little more carefree and participants are encouraged to dress up in costume as they take in the streets of downtown Chicago.
Wharf to Wharf Race
July – Santa Cruz, California
While this 6 mile race along the Santa Cruz coast sounds like fun in the sun, it’s actually one of the biggest summer events of its kind of the West Coast. Elite athletes and runners from all over like to use run as a way to test their skills against some of the best.
Photo credit: Wharf to Wharf Race
Lilac Bloomsday Run 12K
May – Spokane, Washington
A race founded by Olympic marathoner, Don Kardong, in honor of the famous Irish writer James Joyce. Sounds a little random, right? Well Bloomsday is the holiday that celebrates Joyce’s life and his famous writings like Ulysses – and according to Kardong – “a road race is an odyssey, not unlike the one Ulysses endured in his return to Ithaca after the Trojan War, a journey described in great detail by the Greek poet Homer.” – Bloomsday A bit of a mouthful – but this 7 1/2 mile “odyssey” through the streets of The Lilac City (Spokane) is a beautiful celebration.
Great Aloha Run
February – Honolulu, Hawaii
Hawaii is always a good idea! This 8.16 mile run on the island of Honolulu is a fairly flat course from start to end. Runners get to take in the beautiful views of the Honolulu Harbor and the course ends in the Aloha Stadium (home of the University of Hawaii football team). A fun fact: of the roughly 25,000 participants of the race, about 5,000 of them are members of US Armed Forces.
Photo Credit: Great Aloha Run Facebook
July – Utica, New York
A 9.3 mile run in the July heat may not sound like the most fun thing – but the residents of Utica know how to take advantage of the dog days of summer! Boilermaker Week is a week long celebration of summer fun and fitness. If you’re not up for a 15K, they also have a 5K and a lot of events for the kids as well. The week is sent off with a big Post Race party that is fun for the whole family.
Marine Corps 17.75K
March – Dumfries, Virginia
Why 17.75K? It’s the year the Marine Corps was founded. This unique race course is not only beautiful, but holds a lot of history for the Marines as well. The course winds through the wooded paths of Prince William Forest Park and emerges on the grounds of the historic Battle of Belleau Wood, just minutes from the Quantico Base. Those participants who cross the finish line automatically qualify for the Marine Corps Marathon.
Photo credit: Tripsavvy
Charleston Distance Run
September – Charleston, West Virginia
This 15 mile course may start and end out flat, but don’t be fooled – it’s a challenging one! Runners battle a few uphill miles through the West Virginia State Capital and travel all through the streets of downtown Charleston, ending alongside the historic riverfront.
King Island Imperial 20
March – Tasmania
Ready for an adventure? This 19 mile race in Australia is definitely one worth traveling for! The only coast to coast run in the country, the course is on King Island between Victoria and the mainland Tasmania. Past participants have said this race is so unique and fun not only because of the course, but because of the warmth and kindness the locals provide! Food, fun, hospitality and more – this race is one that people remember for a long time.
Photo credit: Tasmanian Road Runners
If you’re someone who is always looking for a new way to mix up your training schedule or just ready to challenge yourself to something different – look and see if there is a unique distance race close by that you can test out. You’ll be surprised to see how a little bit of change could help revamp your routine.
What’s the most unique distance race you’ve done?
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