The world’s best races – as arbitrarily selected by me

On the comedown from last week’s Razorback Endurance Race, I’ve find myself obsessively planning the next big run. Given the reduced mileage during recovery what else would one do?

This is always a fun process for me, starting with the aspirational (yeah, Badwater seems like a good idea) and finally settling on something that actually meshes with my geography, timing and capabilities.

But as I was clicking through the Internets I got so excited about so many races that I figured I’d pass along some of my personal dream runs. Note: This list is pretty stupid. It is totally lacking in insight (you already know about all of these and you also already know that they are awesome) and rigor (I picked randomly and my list will change tomorrow). Still, it’s fun to think through some of the coolest runs you can possibly do.  (Most pictures courtesy of The Internet)

  • 4 Deserts race series – This is too crazy to even contemplate. As highlighted in the awesome Desert Runners (free on Netflix!) the insane freaks who run these races do 150 miles over 5 days in some of the most challenging terrain in the world. The sheer accomplishment is mindboggling but this isn’t for normal people. This is for true masochists who want to spend thousands of dollars to torture themselves in new and bizarre ways. Still…

    "The Final Desert"

    “The Final Desert”

  • Western States – So I’ll obviously never get to run Western States, nor should I be allowed to. This is where the most hard core runners in the US get together to decide who’s really the best. I’m obsessed with this race mainly because it’s where modern trail ultra running was invented in an amazing story highlighting inspiration, perseverance and idiocy. If you don’t know the account of how a cross-country horse race became the World Series of endurance running, read up

    Western States

    Western States

  • Berlin Marathon – So this is a pretty plain vanilla big city European marathon. So why am I so desperate to run it? Well, Berlin is freaking awesome. Location, history, architecture and people make this a great place to spend some time. As importantly, the race takes place during Oktoberfest, making a 10 day trip with a marathon, hiking in the German alps and drinking aggressively in Munich a totally reasonable thing to do. A thing I must do…

    Berlin

    Berlin

  • Relays – I’ve written about the Bourbon Challenge elsewhere, but there are so many options on this one. The Ragnar series seems pretty good. Hood to Coast has the most street cred here, having basically invented the category 34 years ago. An awesome race with top flight runners, this just seems like a great way to spend the day running and commiserating with a bunch of friends

    Hood to Coast

    Hood to Coast

  • NYC marathon – I love the race, if not the organizers. They’ve done a bunch of dumb things over the years, obviously culminating in the Hurricane Sandy nonsense. Having said that, the race itself is great, largely because of the incredible crowd support and spirit. It’s hard as hell to get in via the lottery, but if you’re willing to raise money or run the stupid NYRR series of races designed to line the organization’s pockets, then the race is a fit reward for your efforts.

    Runners and supporters celebrate NYC marathon finish

    Runners and supporters celebrate NYC marathon finish

  • City2Surf – If you happen to be in Australia in August, this 8.7 mile run from downtown Sydney to the beach at Bondi is a great way to spend the day. I love these events that attract massive local support and 80,000 runners line up every year. Since only a very few are taking this race particularly seriously, it feels like a street party as much as a racecity2s
  • Leadville – As detailed in Born to Run and countless articles. While the altitude and elevation changes make this race absolutely brutal, it’s the tight cutoff times that really distinguish it. Most of us can finish an ultra and, given enough time, even one of the true monsters. But finishing Leadville means finishing fast. Wearing one of these belt buckles around really means something. Some of the hardcore out there are saying that Leadville is no longer what it was but that doesn’t mean it’s not still an amazing race and a huge achievement

    Leadville

    Leadville

  • Comrades marathon – It’s pretty bold to call yourself, “The World’s Greatest Ultra Marathon” but who am I to argue? 18,000 people sign up every year to run 56 miles in South Africa. That is so much larger than the biggest US ultras that it boggles the mind. Another cool flourish is that the course switches direction each year so you get to choose if you want to run the uphill or downhill version based on what year you sign upOkhalamba ADP - Comrades Race Day
  • Badwater – They call themselves the world’s hardest footrace and that sounds about right. Extreme temperatures in Death Valley and an extreme climb towards the end of the race (also, they don’t pussyfoot around with 100 miles – this is 135) make this pretty crazy. Running on the Sun highlights the insane dedication that goes into competing in something like this

    Badwater

    Badwater

  • Jersey marathon – no, not that Jersey. Mainly on the list because the Marathon Globetrotters (of which I am proudly a provisional member) are having their annual meeting there this year and I’m trying to convince Awesome Wife Kelly that it’s totally worth flying for a day to run a race on a tiny island we hadn’t previously known existed. There’s a chance

    Not THAT Jersey

    Not THAT Jersey

  • Razorback Endurance Run – Okay, only because I just ran it. But still, pretty freaking awesome

    Razorback sunset

    Razorback sunset

Advertisements

7 comments

  1. afastpacedlife · March 11, 2015

    Great list of races.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. therfpscribe · March 11, 2015

    Look up Jungle Marathon Vietnam if you get a chance!

    Like

    • golddh · March 11, 2015

      I’m actually headed to Vietnam soon – as soon as you said this I went to the site hoping the timing works out…then realized this is maybe a bit extreme for me. Great rec though and clearly something that deserves to be on a list like this.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Matt · March 11, 2015

    Great list! I actually ran the City2Surf in 2009 while while studying in Australia for the semester and have been competed in 9 Ragnar Relays to date (since 2007). I highly suggest doing both races, but the Ragnar series is incredible.

    Like

    • golddh · March 12, 2015

      I’ve tentatively got a team together for next year’s Southern CA Ragnar. I’m already very excited about this.

      Like

  4. charliesbird · March 20, 2015

    Hey! Comrades made it to your list, awesome! Never done it myself, but those that do, rave about it!
    Check out the 2Oceans ultramarathon, now that’s stunning, stunning, stunning!

    Like

    • golddh · March 20, 2015

      Wow, that looks amazing. I’ll have to add it to my next list.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s