The Rundown

Forget big marathons, here’s 11 of the wackiest, craziest races

The Rundown

Training for a marathon is extremely hard, but training for a marathon which involves drinking champagne at every drinks station? That's even tougher.

From doughnut dashes to wife-carrying challenges, we have rounded up some of the more bizarre and unusual races on this, the week of the London Marathon.

Perhaps next year you will be fundraising for the Siberian Black Ice Race or a zombie-infested obstacle run? There are more options out there than you probably realise.

So here are a bunch of our favourites. Anyone who takes on these challenges deserves a fiver.

1) La Ronde des Foies Gras (October)

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Who doesn't want to spend the second Sunday in October stuffing their face with Foie Gras while running? This 25k race through the Gers region of south west France sees runners consume the corn-stuffed goose and duck delicacy at the seven farms offering the pate on toast. It's certainly not conventional food to be snacking on during a long race.

2) Scottsdale Beat The Heat race (June)

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Billed as the hottest sporting event on the planet, the energy-sapping race is deliberately staged at the warmest time of year and during the most oppressive part of the day, all to maximize the discomfort and enhance the challenge of those either courageous or deranged enough to sign up. Temperatures reach upwards of 43 degrees Celsius with participants beginning the seven-mile course at 14:47 - the specific time when the heat is due to be at its very fiercest. "This is about us choosing to celebrate the heat - it's something they won't have experienced before," said enthusiastic race inventor Jason Rose. He will be drinking a pina colada in the shade, no doubt.

3) Wife-carrying race in Sonkajarvi (July)

Harking back to the practice of stealing women from neighbouring villages, Finland's famous wife-carrying competition sees male competitors complete a special obstacle track in the fastest possible time with their good lady on their back. The prize, perhaps fittingly, is the wife's weight in beer. There are several types of carry permitted: piggyback, fireman's carry (over the shoulder), or Estonian style (wife hanging upside down, holding onto the waist). Having the on-board motivational nagging is apparently beneficial.

4) La Champenoise (May)

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This glorious half-marathon takes in wonderful sights as runners charge through the vineyards of France's Champagne region. What makes it all the more special is that participants are greeted by 're-energising' flutes of Champagne at every drinks station in the quaint villages they pass through. Negotiating the undulating French countryside becomes all the more testing as runners find their bubbly demeanour becoming increasingly hazy. A 'best costume' award only serves to make the running conditions all the more difficult - but that, of course, is quickly forgotten about.

5) Siberian black ice race (March)

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"Longer than England, colder than vodka and harder than granite" - as slogans go, this really is enticing. As if the words making up the title of the Siberian black ice race do not put enough fear into the hearts of competitors, one look at the 379-mile ultra-marathon terrain surely provides the final straw. Beginning in the ancient Cossack city of Irkutsk, runners endure a stint on the frozen surface of the oldest and deepest lake in the world in temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees. Oh, and with winds of up to 125 mph. It's rightly known as the "world's most terrifying race".

6) Cooper's Hill Cheese Roll contest (May)

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An estimated crowd of 5,000 people attended the event last year, which sees participants pile down Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire as fast as possible in pursuit of a heavy wheel of Double Gloucester cheese as it reaches speeds of up to 70 mph. Whoever catches the cheese gets to keep it as the prize (what more could you possibly want?) and bask in the adoration of the local masses. Stumbling, tripping, rolling - anything is permitted in the steep and dangerous chase which has been celebrated for centuries. Broken bones in the name of cheese? All worthwhile.

7) The Spartan Death Race (April)

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"Built to break the weak of body and mind" is the slogan meant to taunt potential participants into embarking on a frankly absurd challenge. The Spartan Death Race, billed as "totally unexpected and totally insane", sees runners complete a series of 15 to 20 gruelling mental and physical challenges through a 40-mile course in the Vermont woods in New England, USA. Lifting rock for five hours, crawling through mud under barbed wire or memorising the names of US presidents - it's all part of completing this crazy ordeal. As the organisers wisely observe, "Death sounds cool until you're dead". Fancy it?

8) Run for your Lives race (July)

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Are you keen for an apocalyptic 5k race in which blood-soaked zombies pop out at you at any given moment and attempt to chase you down? It's truly enticing. The zombies' mission is to remove "health flags" from runners' belts, which result in individuals being eliminated from the race altogether. However, there is a twist: any runner who loses their status as a participant is therefore left to embrace joining the ranks of the enemy. What about the prize for evading being eaten? Well, beer, live music and entertainment, of course.

9) Man v Horse marathon (June)

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As everyone knows, the best ideas are always conjured up over a pint of bitter at the local pub. And so it was that the Man v Horse marathon came to be in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales. It began back in 1980 after proprietor Gordon Green overhead two men discussing whether a man or horse would win a cross-country race over hilly tracks, dodgy roads and open farmland. It took over 25 years for a man to triumph over a horse over the marathon-distance course as Huw Lobb did - and since then only one other human, Florien Holtinger, has prevailed.

10) The Self-Transcendence 3,100-mile race (June)

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The world's longest certified footrace, Sri Chinmoy created the inhumane event in 1996 as a 2,700 mile ordeal. However, realising that it was simply not far enough, he duly declared in 1996 that the following year's event would be extended to a frankly ridiculous 3,100 miles. Taking place in Queens, New York, the race begins in June as runners negotiate 5,649 laps of just one extended city block in the Jamaica district. Runners have 52 days in which to complete the distance, which works out at 60.78 miles per day. So, pretty standard fare, then.

11) Krispy Kreme Challenge (December)

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This annual charity event sees participants negotiate a five-mile course in Raleigh, North Carolina. The route culminates in runners reaching the fabled Krispy Kreme Doughnuts shop, whereby they must eat a dozen doughnuts (2,400 calories worth, if you're interested!) before charging back to the finish line in under an hour. It all began back in December 2004 when a dozen friends attempted the challenge as a college dare, but now all profits from the race go to the North Carolina Children's Hospital. A sickly challenge all for a good cause.

So, what do you reckon - would you fancy taking on any of the above? If you've come across any other ridiculous races let us know by posting your comments...

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