11 Unusual Footraces

Robin Myerscough via Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Robin Myerscough via Flickr // CC BY 2.0 / Robin Myerscough via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Regular 5K not of interest to you? Considering participating in one of these offbeat races, which go the extra mile to stand out.


The Krispy Kreme Challenge is an annual race in Raleigh, North Carolina that has become a tradition for students at North Carolina State University. The challenge is to run 2.5 miles from the campus to a Krispy Kreme outlet, eat a dozen doughnuts, and then make it back to the starting point. It began as a dare among students in 2004, and by 2006 it was an organized race that raised $800 for the North Carolina Children's Hospital. Last year, more than 8000 runners participated and raised $195,000, bringing the total the hospital has received from the race over the years to $1,149,000. The 2017 Krispy Kreme Challenge will take place February 4.


The Hash House Harriers is an international network of non-competitive runners dating back to 1938 whose motto is "A drinking club with a running problem." The Red Dress run originated years ago with the San Diego chapter. In 1987, a young woman named Donna Rhinehart went to a Hash event to meet a friend wearing a red dress and heels. The group assumed she couldn't run because of the way she was dressed, and she took that as a challenge, completing the run in her dress and heels. The next year, she was invited back, and the entire club staged the first Red Dress Run. Hundreds of runners turned out in red frocks. Since then, the Red Dress Run is an annual event to raise funds for various charities. It has spread to many Hash House Harriers groups worldwide, with about 100 annual events being held in different cities. The next two Red Dress runs in 2017 will be in Seattle on February 11 and Moline, Illinois, on February 18. You can keep up with the schedule of runs here.


The rules for a Beer Mile is that you drink a beer, then run a lap around a track, then drink a beer, then run another lap, until you've completed four laps and four beers. A British variation is called the Chunder Mile, in which pints are drunk (and throwing up is allowed). The National Beer Mile series has events across the U.S., but they haven't posted a 2017 schedule yet. If the schedule is like last year's, they will begin in March.


The Man v Horse Marathon has been an annual event in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales since 1980. A few horses and riders compete against runners on foot for 22 miles over rough terrain. Only twice in those years has a human ever beaten the horses (2004 and 2007). The winner among the runners gets a trophy, but prize money only goes to a runner who crosses the finish line before any horse. The pot starts at £500, and another £500 is added each year until a runner wins it. The race for 2017, which happens on June 10, will have a cash prize of £2000 up for grabs.


The Stiletto Run in Haarlem, Netherlands, is a 100-meter race in which runners are required to wear shoes with heels at least 3.5 inches tall. What makes this race a real draw for spectators is that it's not just women who race—many men participate as well. It's a fundraiser for the Free a Girl campaign, which helps girls in Asia, Brazil, and the Netherlands escape forced prostitution. The 2017 run will take place on June 11.


Sean-Franc Strang via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The half-kilometer Stiletto Run is an annual event in Buffalo, New York, to benefit the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Runners aren't required to wear high heels, but to win first, second, or third place, you must be wearing heels at least 3 inches high. The date isn't yet set for the 2017 race, but it should be in summertime.


The Shamrock 5K Beer Run will take place on Saturday, March 11, 2017 in Indianapolis, and Saturday, March 18, in Chicago. Runners start with a 3-ounce beer, with 3 ounces more at four beer stations along the way, plus a pint at the finish line (for a grand total of 31 ounces of brew). The event isn't timed, and prizes are awarded for the best costumes—not the fastest runners.


Robin Myerscough via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins, is often called Pancake Day, a day to use up fats and sweets to prepare for fasting. Many communities hold pancake breakfasts, and some even stage pancake races. According to the town of Olney in Buckinghamshire, UK, they've held their Pancake Race every Shrove Tuesday for over 500 years. The race is open to Olney women over 18, who must run wearing an apron and headscarf, carrying a frying pan with a pancake in it. Runners must flip their pancakes before and after running the course. The runners in Olney compete with runners in the Liberal, Kansas, Pancake Race, as they have since 1950. This year's race will be held on February 28.


The two-mile-long New York City Pizza Run will hold its eighth annual race in September. The run—which has three stops where runners eat a slice of pizza—benefits the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). For those who prefer sweets, the annual NYC Cupcake Run follows in October.


The Kona Underpants Run in Kona, Hawaii, began in 1998 as a protest against people wearing Speedos in public places besides the beach. It has evolved into an annual event welcoming people to the Ironman Triathlon World Championships (October 14 this year) and a fundraiser for various local charities. The 1.5 mile Underpants Run will be held the Thursday before Ironman on October 12.


Ann Arbor, Michigan, is the site of the annual April Fool's Day Twinkie Run. During the 3.1 mile race, runners must stop and eat a Twinkie at designated stations. (There is a class for Twinkie Skippers.) The Twinkie Run benefits Ann Arbor Active Against ALS.