Unusual races from around the world

As January comes to an end, so does many people’s motivation for sticking to their New Year’s resolutions. Running to keep fit seemed like a great idea at 11:30pm on New Year’s Eve, but a month later, as the snow starts to fall, you might start thinking that a less active resolution would’ve been easier.

Whether on a treadmill, or pounding the same old streets, it can be difficult to keep going. So why not try one of these unusual races from around the world instead? That way you get to go on holiday, keep doing your exercise, and eat a whole faceful of doughnuts…

Wife carrying – Finland

Ahh Finland; home of Lapland, heavy metal and… the world wife-carrying championships?

Man and wife
Man and wife in Finland – photo: Visit Lakeland

Sonkajärvi, Finland, is the home of a unique race where the husband has to carry his wife over a 250metre obstacle course. This is no easy run – there are two dry obstacles and one water obstacle (plus you’re carrying your wife, remember).

Competitors in the world wife carrying championship
In sickness and in health – photo: Visit Lakeland

The origins of the race are reputed to be due a thief called Ronkainen the Robber whose gang used to steal women away to be their wives. As silly as the whole thing sounds, it’s taken very seriously by its competitors and there are strict rules to be followed; including how the wife is supposed to be carried.

Krispy Kreme challenge – USA

Krispy Kreme challenge
An American athlete – photo: Dan Bock

If bananas and energy drinks don’t encourage you to go running, perhaps this race is more your style. Held in North Carolina every February, competitors are asked to run 2.5miles to the local Krispy Kreme and then proceed to eat 12 original glazed doughnuts. So far, so good! Unfortunately, having devoured the doughnuts, you immediately have to run back to the starting point to finish the race. I assume the sugar rush will help you keep your energy levels up, but you may feel a little queasy by the time you’ve finished!

Perth kilt run – Canada

Two kilted runners
An example of kilted runners – photo: Bhautik Joshi

With a name like Perth kilt run, you’d think this would be in Scotland. However this was started in Perth, Canada (although there is now a twin race in Perth, Scotland). As you can probably guess, this is a 5km race where all participants must wear a kilt in celebration of all things Scottish. Since 2010, it has also held the Guinness World Record for the most kilted runners. Depending on how traditional you go with your kilt-running, this may be just as draughty as Nakukymppi!

Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race – USA

Two runners, self transcending
Day 8 of 52. Nearly there! – photo: John Gillespie

This is certainly one of the most gruelling and bizarre races that I’ve ever heard of. Consisting of 5,649 laps of one city block in New York this race takes place over 52 days! I’m not sure what would be the hardest part, the distance or the sheer boredom of running round the same block over and over. It will supposedly bring you to a self-transcendent state by the end, though I do feel sorry for anyone living on that particular block.

The Great Wall Marathon – China

Great wall of China
You can still catch up if you set off now… – photo: SteFou!

I’m a huge fan of Asian culture and would love to see the Great Wall in person one day. However running a marathon along it isn’t how I’d like to see it, especially as it’s not a flat race – there are over 5,000 stone steps to climb (and even the three flights of stairs to the office can be tough on a bad day)! The plus side is that this is one of the most amazing locations for a race, incorporating not only the wall itself but also the stunning mountain landscapes of China. Considered one of the most challenging courses by even the most experienced runners, this isn’t one for the faint-hearted, but is certainly a race that you would always remember.

Great wall marathon
Well done, chaps! – photo: Drew Bates

So if you fancy getting a little healthier on your travels how about trying out one of these? Now don’t mind me, but I’m off to practice my donut eating in preparation for the Krispy Kreme challenge.

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About Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds

I managed to tick two items at once when I went to New York during Halloween. We did all the usual tourist attractions like the Empire State building, but my highlights were more off the beaten track…

We visited the fire station from Ghostbusters and visited a Ninja restaurant where we were served by ninjas with ninja tricks and people jumping out left, right and centre. But a Halloween trip wouldn’t be complete without a haunted house experience and I can confirm they do everything on a big scale in the USA – it was certainly one of the best scare mazes I’d been to.

Scott works in our customer service department

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