Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying to put together my race schedule for 2011. Since participating in the Big Five Marathon in June 2010 I’ve found myself seeking other adventure style races that bring a different element to running or triathlon.
One of the things that I loved so much about the Big Five was how the race connected you with your surroundings and made you understand the privilege it was to run across the savanah with impala, kudu, rhinoceros, elephants, ostriches, giraffes, lions, zebras and a wide variety of other animals that call the southern African continent home.
In some ways I fear that the experience has spoiled the experience of a traditional road race. I seem to now have this insatiable desire to push myself further, to challenge myself physically and mentally; by finding races that deliver an extra element contributing to the overall experience. (My non-running friends look at me like I’m crazy when I get so excited about some of these events.)
This pursuit has lead me to discovering some truly amazing races. I am sure I will discover more but here are the races that I have thus far caught my attention:
Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon – San Francisco, CA, USA– participants swim from Alcatraz to the shore through 12C – 13C water with very strong currents and apparently some sharks before a warm up run to the transition area for the cycle. The run includes an ascent up 400 sand steps. Appx. 2000 participants capped and via lottery.
Big Five Marathon – Entabeni Game Reserve, South Africa– it is one thing to run a race with challenging terrain but to add the landscape of the African savanah and then combine that with running amongst native African animals is truly an amazing experience. Race packages include daily game drives, bush walks, a variety of other activities and some amazing food. The races diverse international participant base and the opportunity to spend 2 – 3 days before and after the race with other competitors enhances the experience.
Race The Planet – Multiple Locations Worldwide– each year Race the Planet hosts three different races all of desert crossings: Gobi – China, Sahara – Africa, Atacama – Chile. Every other year the “Last Desert” race is run in Antarctica. There is also a roving race each year. Nepal will hold the roving race in 2011 and Jordan in 2012. Each of these races is a staged race, meaning that each day a leg of the race is run. On average these races cover 250km in 6 – 7 days with participants being self-sufficient. There are camps each night but participants must carry all food for the entire race with them from start to finish.
TCC Adventures – Central & South America– similar to Race the Planet, TCC hosts several races each year. In general these races are not as intense as Race the Planet in the fact that runners are not required to be self-sufficient. You have the option of running as part of a team or competing as an individual. Races are held in Costa Rica, Panama and Bolivia. Some events provide the option of an extra level of difficulty. With race tag lines such as “every runner has their day of reckoning” I am not sure I would want to up the level of difficulty.
Tor des Geants – Aosta Valley7 days, 336 km, 24,000m in elevation coverage, a climb from 300m to 3300m, self-supported with water stations and medical stations and no staging. This race is one single stage and requires participants to manage their time as they see fit or quite frankly capable.
Ultimate Kokoda – Papua New Guinea– this track / hike is generally done in 8 days. The Kokoda Track will challenge teams of two to complete the route in 4 days. In addition to route finding participants will be required to build rafts to cross rivers, pass through local villages, and witness battlefields from WWII. What awaits the winner of the 96km inaugural race in March 2012? $30,000!
Greenland Ice Cap Challenge – Greenland– this race takes it to a completely different level. Starting on the west coast in Kangerlussuaq and ending 500km later in Isortoq on Greenland’s east coast, participants will endure 18 – 27 days of -35C weather (before windchill), navigate and pull sleds of approximately 75kg. Polar bears (don’t worry, mandatory race equipment includes a shot gun!) and 24 hour sunlight add to the experience. The inaugural event begins in April 2011.
I’ll continue to update as I find more to add to the list and am more than happy to add suggestions.