Six of the best races around the world

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

This month sees the Tough Mudder obstacle race take place in London. The Tough Mudder races are notorious for being one of the hardest physical challenges you can put yourself through, incorporating not just a gruelling 12 mile run over slippery, muddy terrain, but also featuring ice cold water plunges, cage crawls, rope swings with mud pit drops and even electric wire shocks.
Inspired by the popularity of the Tough Mudder series, we asked our friends at Sportsshoes.com for their favourite races around the world, from famous marathons to one-of-a-kind obstacle events…

The Warrior Dash| USA | Best for Beginners
warrior-roast-warrior-dash
Held throughout various states in the USA since 2009, the Warrior Dash series has so far had 2.5 million people take part in its races. The race is ideal for beginners and intermediates, set over a 5K distance. Finishers of the race are awarded a Viking warrior helmet and a stein of beer at the end of the challenge, rewards for successfully negotiating a muddy run filled with 12 obstacles including cargo nets, block barricades and the ‘Warrior Roast’ where burning flames lick the heels of the runners.  The camaraderie of the race is a great selling point, with the event holding a fun party at the end of the race for finishers to revel in their victory with dancing and ice cold beers.

Medoc Marathon | France | Best for Wine Connoisseurs

medoc-marathon
The Medoc Marathon is an absolute must for food and wine lovers. The route takes you through the chateaus and vineyards of Bordeaux, but there’s no chance of trying to get a personal best. Runners are encouraged to take regular pit stops to enjoy the area’s speciality foods which include oysters, cheese, ice-cream and freshly grilled steak.  There are 23 wine stops, each offering a white wine or claret that is local to the area. Some of the chateaus are closed all year around to the public, only opening their doors for people to come and explore when the Medoc marathon takes place. Finishers are greeted with a medal and bottle of Medoc red as they cross the line, and fancy dress is mandatory…!

Zombie Evacuation | UK| Best for Spooky Scares
zombie_evacutaion
This obstacle race will really get your adrenaline flowing. The race takes the established equation of a muddy 5K run with a number of tricky obstacles to scale over and under, and then ramps up the tension by unleashing an army of modern day zombies (the scary speedy ones!) to chase the participants. Runners mustn’t get caught by the undead, and there are stict rules about fighting them off, so participants must simply rely on their speed and strength to survive. Each runner is given three lives however, so most of the racers make it to the end!

Paris Marathon | Best for Scenery
paris-marathon
This marathon route takes in some of Paris’ most iconic monuments, including the Eiffel Tower, the Pont Neuf, Le Louve museum and the River Seine. The race starts at the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, and starts with a descent towards the Place de la Concorde. Runners continue heading south east, looping around the Bois de Vincennes before heading on a near parallel route back towards the city centre, past the Eiffel Tower (and the drinks station and feet massage point) and then finally through the Bois de Boulogne before finishing on Avenue Foch. It’s a really popular race so participants should be looking enjoy it as a relaxed marathon, taking in the splendour of Paris, rather that aiming for a new personal best because it can get congested at times.

New York Marathon | Best for Music Lovers
new-york-marathon

From the views over the water at Verrazano Bridge to overlooking the Manhattan skyline on the spookily quiet Queensboro Bridge (no spectators allowed), the New York marathon provides one scenic delight after another along its route. It’s an amazing atmosphere along the route, with the marathon boasting 130 live bands along the race, that’s roughly five acts per mile! You won’t need headphones as you take in brass bands, bagpipers, country music and punk rock.  The race is excellent for sight-seeing too, with runners beginning on Staten Island before crossing Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the United States, and then running north through Brooklyn into Queens. Runners then face the famous uphill climb at Queensboro Bridge before heading north again up to the Bronx and finally back south to finish in Central Park.

Marathon des Sables | Sahara Desert | Only for the professionals
marathon-des-sables
The Marathon des Sables isn’t for everyday people, because it’s not an everyday kind of race. It’s the toughest foot race on the planet, and is even the subject of a documentary on the Discovery Channel. Participants have to be massively experienced, self-sufficient and ready to carry all their food and equipment ton their back for a week. Water is rationed and if you exceed your ration you are given a time penalty. Over the course of six days the runners will journey over 156 miles of sand dunes, rocky outcrops and white-hot salt plains. With temperatures reaching 50°c, the race has become stuff of legend, and anyone who takes part are undoubted heros.

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