Themed Races have become more and more popular over the last few years.  There are events for everyone, regardless of age, gender, experience, interests, or ability. While some serious runners prefer traditional races and look at themed races as too “trendy” and crowded , many of us love the idea of incorporating more fun into our workout challenges.  Some of these have great family, novice, and team options, which makes it easy to get our friends and families involved.

Here are a few of the options for 2013:

Mud, Trail, and Obstacle:  Mud races have soared in popularity as of late.  Perhaps our “inner child” is trying to tell us to get out and play more!  There are many versions and fitness levels of these races.  Take some time to see which best meets your needs.

Tough Mudder:   According to their website, this is the premier adventure challenge.  “Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.”  Up for a real challenge?  Go to

Dirty Girl Races: Similar to the above, but for women only, and with more of a supportive, “you can do it” feeling.  These are 5K’s, where every obstacle has an easier or “opt out” alternative.  The event is described as “an untimed obstacle course designed to push you slightly out of your comfort zone, but only as far as you are comfortable going,” where “you’ll find excitement, laughter, and camaraderie…” Definitely intended to be more fun and less competitive!  Check this one out at

 Less Mud, more Obstacles (and more competition!):

For the serious, competitive athlete…

Spartan Race is considered one of the elite races in this class.  It is advertised as “obstacle racing at its toughest, ” and sells itself as the next step after mastering other mud and trail races.  It offers different challenge levels, including the Spartan sprint, the Super Spartan, and the ultimate: the Spartan Beast, but all are billed as intense.  Learn more at:

Warrior Dash is similar to the Spartan races in concept, but perhaps a little easier.  Not easy, by any means, but perhaps a better starting place for someone looking for a great challenge, but not quite ready to take on the Spartans!  Check it out at

 On the absolute other side of the spectrum we find:

Disney events

Disney offers some great family friendly races, as well as more intense lengths and challenges.  Several events occur throughout the year, and many are offered on both coasts.  If you don’t live in either area, these may be something worth looking into if you’re considering a Disney area family vacation!  Some of the races include the Tinkerbell half marathon, Princess half, Tower of Terror 10 miler (night run), Expedition Everest (5K with a scavenger hunt), and the Disneyland and Disney World marathons.  Every race includes a weekend filled with activities, including great events for kids.  What a great way to get the family involved in your passion, while having some Disney fun!  Go to for details of events.

Somewhere between the crazy and the cartoons, we find the Color Run and the Neon Splash Dash.

The Color Run (and several similar races) are shorter races aiming for more of a party atmosphere.  The Color Run is a 5K, where each Kilometer is designated as a certain color.  Participants start out in clean white shirts, and are splattered head to toe throughout the course…colors signifying each kilometer off accomplishments. (

Similarly, the Neon Splash Dash is a fun event that takes place at night, with splashes of color and “neon glow water”.  The Neon Splash Dash states that children of any age and even strollers are permitted.  (

Just to prove that there are events for every athlete and interest, I thought I should share this one:

Run for your Lives is a “Zombie infested obstacle course” that looks more like an action video game than a race.  With props, actors, “extra lives,” and various obstacles, it strives to excite on every level.  You can find out more about this one at

 **These are just suggestions and ideas of what’s happening this year. 

This is not an advertisement or endorsement for any event,

just a friendly guide to some events you may enjoy!**

If you’re not sure what you’re looking for or what’s in your area, do some internet searches for “themed races” and look at some of the sites for your favorite running clubs or stores.  You’ll be surprised at what you can find!

Let’s have some fun with our fitness this year and take on some of these challenges!

I’d love to hear from people who have participated in some of these, or who have other favorite options!