9 Unique Races Around the World

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9 Unique Races Around the World
The world is full of races to get your blood flowing and endorphins soaring. But nowadays, running isn’t always confined to the road. Events have popped up all over the globe that help you break a sweat in the wackiest of ways. Be pummeled with colored chalk that’ll leave you looking (and likely tasting) the rainbow. Stay ahead of the walking dead as zombies chase you to the finish line. Race in costume, outrun horses, wade through bubbles, chug beer along the way, and even race in pajamas with your bed for a celebration in tropical Key West. Whether physical endurance or the thrill of the fun is what tickles your fast-footed fancy, the world holds a race for everyone. Read on to discover our favorites.
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    Bay to Breakers
    San Francisco, United States

    This infamous race begins at San Francisco’s Embarcadero and winds for about 7.5 miles through the city until reaching the “breakers” crashing into Ocean Beach. In the spirit of this vibrant, off-kilter city, runners (and all other residents) are invited to dress up in any costume they like—and we do mean anything. Our staff alone has been known to rock a Stitch onesie (of Lilo & Stitch), the Kool-Aid man outfit, a grandma on vacation costume, and even a loofah. Let your freak flag fly; creativity is encouraged.
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    The Great British Beerathon
    London, England

    Running is optional along this five-mile “slobstacle” course. Upon each mile completed, participants must down a frothy pint of various beers, washed down with some British “fodder”: Cornish pasties, pork pies, Scotch eggs, and more. Enter at your own risk.
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    Wife-Carrying Championship
    Sonkajärvi, Finland

    As bizarre as it may seem, this one-of-a-kind race is exactly as it sounds. An old Finnish legend about “Ronkainen the Robber,” a leader of a gang, said that for men to be accepted into the group, they had to prove their worth by carrying heavy sacks—supposedly replaced by wives stolen from a neighboring village, too. The modern-day sport has since become a global phenomenon (some participants even race with other people’s wives instead of their own) through a 278-yard obstacle course of water, sand traps, and more. Qualifying races all over the world lead up to this Finnish championship, including the North American Championship in Maine, where winners not only earn a place in the Sonkajärvi final, but also five times the wife’s weight in cash and Goose Island Oktoberfest beer.
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    Color Run

    It’s impossible not to enjoy yourself during the “Happiest 5k on the Planet”; just ask the six-million-plus participants (and counting) who’ve run the rainbow around the globe. Walk, run, or jog your way along a course engulfed in bursting clouds of brightly colored chalk, culminating in a dance party after the finish line. Your reflection may be unrecognizable after this colorful celebration, but rest assured it’ll leave you smiling—even if your teeth have turned pink. Global variations have included the Color Run Night, featuring glow-in-the-dark chalk; a glittering Shine Tour; and an island-themed Tropicolor World Tour, just to name a few.
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    Running of the Burros
    Colorado, United States

    This race celebrates the role of the burro in small-town Buena Vista’s gold rush days. Contestants lead a donkey packed with 33 pounds of mining gear along a seriously ass-kicking 29-mile race. Expect rough terrain, elevation changes, and an overall highly unpredictable experience (have you ever tried pulling a donkey that far before?).
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    Man vs. Horse Marathon
    Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales

    In 1980, a debate erupted in the pub of a Welsh hotel as to whether men or horses were faster—which led the landlord to establish this race. Riders on horseback steer their animals through 22 miles of countryside, while determined participants run alongside them, attempting to speed past the hooves. In 36 years, only one man has accomplished the feat—earning him thousands in prize money, which increases each year that a horse wins. Think you have what it takes to beat the beasts?
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    Bubble Run
    United States and Canada

    This “Good Clean Run” is all good vibes. Each kilometer of the 5k features a foam bog of bubbles, tinted with varying colors as you make your way along the course. The focus here is much more on enjoyment than competition, so go at whatever pace best floats your boat. We don’t recommend ingesting the bubbles, although if eaten, you’re totally safe. Save your appetite for an after party of food trucks and DJs to have your fill of fun before heading home to get (even more) clean.
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    Red Ribbon Bed Race
    Key West, United States

    While Key West is technically a city in Florida, the city celebrated a symbolic “secession” from the United States on April 23, 1982. Ronald Reagan had ordered border control to set up a road blockade to prevent an overflow of immigration into the country. But when this caused a multi-day and multi-mile traffic jam, Key West’s mayor declared that the city was fed up—and as a result would be seceding from the country as its own nation, the Conch Republic. The name has since stuck around as a tongue-in-cheek attraction (the secession never officially occurred), and the islands still celebrate “Independence Day” each year on April 23. One of the festivities’ key features includes the Red Ribbon Bed Race, consisting of teams propelling decorated beds on wheels along Key West’s Duval Street. Pajamas, or any variety of costumes, are welcome.
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    Zombie Run
    United States

    Run for your life along this eerie 5k—or longer. A pack of zombies, adorned with blood and guts galore, chase race participants while attempting to steal the flags hanging from their belts (think flag football, except these flags represent your life). Multiple routes may be available along the way of this spooky experience, so choose wisely, or your 5k may very well jump up to 10. Only the most strategic of runners will reach the finish line in “full health.” Best of luck!
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