What do you want from a race?
People run for a whole host of different reasons – fitness, socialising, fundraising, competition – the list goes on. Before writing your running bucket list, ask yourself what it is YOU look for in a race. Do you want to beat your PB? Is there a charity you’d love to raise money for? Or do you just want to prove you can run a marathon? Once you know what your running focus is you can start to narrow down the choices for your list.
Study the course
Course layout and elevation can make or break your enjoyment of a race. You might find that you love the city a race is held in, but absolutely hate the course because it doesn’t cover any of the interesting areas, or is full of hills. Your bucket list should be full of races that you have the time of your life running, so do your research and make sure there aren’t any nasty surprises lying in wait. If you’re looking for a fast time, check out the average finishing time for previous races and this will help inform your choice.
Work out the weather
Ask yourself this; what weather do you usually train in? Temperature is an often-overlooked aspect of races that can actually make a big difference to how your day goes. If you’re used to training in the cold, travelling abroad to a race with soaring temperatures could be a serious shock to your body when you try to run. Likewise, those of you who train in hotter climates could struggle to perform if it’s too cold while you’re racing. Make sure you train for the conditions as well as the distance of your bucket list races to make sure you enjoy the experience.
Level your list
The beauty of running is that there’s always room for improvement. Just because you can only manage a 5k now, doesn’t mean you won’t some day be able to run a marathon. That’s why you should level your running bucket list into short term, medium term, and long term goals. At the top of your list you can put races you’d be able to complete now, while further down you can list events that will take some serious training. That way you’ll be constantly ticking things off the list, whilst simultaneously always having something better to aim for.
Now that you know how to put together your running bucket list, it’s time to give you some ideas to start filling it up. Below are five amazing race types that everyone should add to their running bucket list.
If running simply isn’t enough of a challenge, then an obstacle race might be for you. Extreme races like Tough Mudder couple long distance running with testing physical challenges, and will truly take your running to the next level. You’ll crawl through mud, swim through freezing lakes, and climb over huge obstacles. These races bring out an all-new level of camaraderie, with most participants being more concerned with helping their fellow racers than getting to the finish line as quickly as possible.
World Marathon Majors
The World Marathon Majors (Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York) are the pinnacle of world marathon running, and completing at least one of them should be on every single runner’s bucket list. Boston is the toughest of them all with its extremely quick qualifying times. To give yourself the best chance of achieving these qualifying times, add Berlin to your list as well. This extremely quick marathon course almost guarantees a PB if you prepare correctly, with six of the last eight world records being set there.
Pushing your body to the limit by running races is certainly fulfilling, but there’s nothing more rewarding than raising money for worthy causes as you do so. Charity fun runs aren’t about setting blistering times or fishing at the top of your age group – they’re about making a difference to the lives of those who truly need your help. Whether you set yourself a fundraising target for your race, or aim to run in a hilarious costume that raises awareness for a charity close to your heart, a charity race is a worthy addition to your running bucket list.
Nothing can compare to the rush of racing off road. Trail races are more popular than ever, and for good reason. You’ll be doing away with asphalt and swapping it for forest trails, replacing buildings with canyons, and running alongside streams instead of shops. When you also take into account the research carried out by Health.com that showed off-road running even burns 10 per cent more calories than regular running, it quickly becomes apparent that a trail race is something your bucket list can’t do without.
Sometimes all it takes to make good race into a great one is a truly amazing location. Not many people can say they’ve run a race on a wonder of the world, or followed in the footsteps of Phidippides’ first ever marathon, but you can if you pick a race like the Great Wall of China Marathon or the Athens Marathon. If that’s not up your street then try the Big Five Marathon in South Africa, which is a running race and safari all in one at the Entabeni Game Reserve.