Taking place on rugged, 10K–12K courses across the country, the Green Beret Challenge gives participants the chance to demonstrate the legendary toughness and endurance of the race's namesakes. In teams of two or four, male, female, and coed crews all take a stab at glory. Armed with backpacks, lengths of rope, and sturdy D-rings, each team must prove its mental and physical tenacity by tackling a series of challenges that require participants to scale obstacles and carry heavy loads across mud, sand, and other surfaces. Every race is followed by a celebration, during which winners are awarded prizes and every of-age finisher receives a complimentary beer to quench thirst and complement endorphin highs.
Running in heels is usually a hassle, but at the annual Stiletto Stampede, it’s a sport. There, women sprint 100 yards in their favorite stilettos, or even, as one past participant did, in chunky platforms with breast cancer awareness’s pink ribbon drawn on the heel. The event benefits breast cancer research and awareness. The Survivor Stampede, for example, is for breast cancer survivors, while the Boot Scoot is for racers in cowboy boots, rather than boots that have recently become self-aware.
Participants compete more for the honor loudest than fastest in the Karaoke 5K, singing along to the tunes coming from their handheld radios as they stroll through the race. Each radio plays the same playlist of popular sing-alongs, encouraging runners to sing into toy microphones as they go, which adds rock-star flair less extravagant than stretch-limo rides to the finish line. The race aims to raise $10,000 for Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit that builds homes for people in need.
Organized by the Austin Sports and Social Club, Downtown Dash TX unleashes teams on a race across the city rife with physical challenges, social interactions, and mental puzzles. The undefined course lets participants choose their own route, but with a catch: travel must be completed on foot or by public transportation, not on bicycles, rollerblades, or stolen emus. While following a clue sheet, teams attempt to topple up to a dozen challenges all while encountering some of Austin's most historic and renowned sites. Upon crossing the finish line, the top three teams receive a special prize, but everyone wins during a postrace party that stretches the day's festivities into the evening.
The eclectic organizers at Red Frog Events take a lighthearted and fun-focused approach to building their adventurous events, such as obstacle courses, scavenger hunts, and themed bar crawls, to connect city dwellers with local neighborhoods. Their creative, interactive offerings include regularly occurring competitions such as the Warrior Dash, Great Urban Race, and Beach Dash, the proceeds from which usually benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Like the idea of having a pet rock, their events have grown more popular annually, and frequently spring up in cities across the United States.
Challenge Nation pioneered the urban-adventure race with a race season that includes visits to 35 cities across the country. Each scavenger hunt is personalized to the hosting city, exploring its many diverse neighborhoods with a series of clues that would test even the most skilled children's-book detective. The teams—comprised of at least two people—vie for a $300 first-place prize. The Amazing Race–style competition rewards quick wits and wise planning over physical fitness, so the best way to prepare is by doing logic puzzles while eating Funyuns and lounging in a La-Z-Boy. The top 25 teams qualify, the top five receiving free entry, to compete in the national championship, which rewards winning teams with a $5,000 cash prize.
Most runners simply want to cross the finish line of their first marathon. Steve Sisson wanted Austin’s runners to set loftier goals, so he created Rogue Running and hired a staff of experienced and decorated coaches. Steve himself is tribute to what drive can accomplish: he was a three-time all-American cross-country and track runner at the University of Texas, and is currently the assistant coach for the women’s track-and-field team.
His vision is to pass on that sense of discipline as well as advanced running techniques in a training program tailored according to how hard runners want to work, rather than how frequently they’ve spotted Jesse Owens in the supermarket. Using this method, the Rogue crew has readied runners for everything from 5K races and marathons to triathlons and trail runs. One of Steve’s ultimate goals is to create a thriving running community. To this end, Rogue Running has trained more than 10,000 runners of varying skill levels, and opened retail stores that outfit the community with athletic apparel and running shoes.