Running in Rotterdam

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Color Me Rad stages 5K races that transform runners into mobile rainbows by launching cheerful barrages of colored cornstarch. Each color station along the racetrack flings a new, nontoxic pigment at passersby, who wear white shirts to enhance the chromatic onslaught's costuming effects. Brilliant neon-blue, green, purple, and yellow clouds dapple participants along the way, and the race concludes with a prismatic finish-line finale as sprinters chuck colors at each other in celebration. The race's noncompetitive credo shifts the emphasis from speed to silliness, and a portion of its proceeds go to local charities.

Upon registration, each runner collects a Color Me Rad T-shirt, sunglasses, sponsor gifts, and a race bib. Though they don't receive a gift packet, runners younger than 8 years old can sprint for free, provided they have a waiver signed by a guardian and won't give in to demands for gold from confused leprechauns.

129 Grand Street
Altamont,
NY
US

Surviving in the wilderness can be challenging—especially during the zombie apocalypse. But some of Wilderness Survival's courses prepare students for just this situation, incorporating practical lessons into a simulated battle between zombies and humans, complete with optional paintball warfare. Other courses focus purely on the practical aspects of survival, such as building a shelter, finding wild edible plants, purifying water, and learning how to roundhouse kick the wings off pesky mosquitoes.

1764 Route 9
Clifton Park,
NY
US

In order to reach the finish line of the Urban Raid obstacle course, participants must hoist a sandbag, leap over marine hurdles, and scale a cargo net. The course is designed to emulate a run through the city streets, right up to the finish line, which is actually a climbing wall. It's one branch of The Raid Series, a trifecta of terrain-inspired 5Ks that also include the Mountain Raid and Beach Raid.

51 S Pearl St.
Albany,
NY
US

LB never stopped smiling. That’s how Michelle and Louis Butts remember their son, who succumbed to MPS I, or Hurler syndrome, just before his first birthday. To celebrate his life and help others with MPS, they started the 5 for fiVe, a 5K race that builds a contribution for the National MPS Society, a group that sponsors research projects for this currently incurable disease. The race begins at the warming hut in historic Saratoga Spa State Park, winding through trails lined with trees, classical architecture, and water stations to keep athletes hydrated. Participants can run or walk the 5K or register for a 1-mile walk. Kids 12 and younger can run in the 50-yard dash—which is free with any adult registration in the 5K—and sit for face painting in a booth sponsored by Saratoga Paint & Sip Studio. After the race, awards will be given to the top three runners in each division, and prizes from local merchants will be raffled off to the person with the highest bid or the best puppy-dog eyes.

47 Ferndell Spring Dr.
Saratoga Springs,
New York
US

Frogs aren’t exactly known for being fierce, but The Bone Frog Challenge’s namesake skeleton frog makes more sense when you know that it is the unofficial mascot of the Navy SEALs—the creators of the rigorous race. The mascot honors the SEALs’ predecessors: the Underwater Demolition Teams of World War II, who were dubbed “Frogmen” for their ability to work underwater.

The Bone Frog Challenge challenges everyday civilians to act like SEALs, with an emphasis on functional fitness. While the muddy, timed races measure up to 12 miles long, they require more than speed and endurance. The military-style obstacles force participants to draw on reservoirs of strength, agility, and creativity to scale walls, swing on ropes across trenches, and slither under netting through puddles of mud. Although the races champion hard work, they also focus on fun, welcoming competitors across the finish line with music-filled after-parties complete with spreads of food and beer.

66 Thunder Mountain Rd
Charlemont,
MA
US

At YMCA Camp Wa Wa Segowea, 500 acres of forest encircle placid Harmon Pond—and during the Wa Wa Splash and Dash Duathlon, athletes make the most of the terrain. At the race's start, they swim the 400 yards across the pond. Next, they run 2 to 3 miles through the forest, earning extra points for running up and over trees. When they finally reach the finish line, they stop for festivities featuring refreshments, a raffle, and an awards ceremony.

408 Foley Hill Road
Southfield,
MA
US