The craziest one day races

Forget 10ks and marathons. These days it’s all about mud runs, obstacles and mixing it up.
Competitors contemplate a crossing during ÖtillÖ.
The ultimate duathlon © Jakob Edholm/ÖTILLÖ 13
By Fredrik Ölmqvist

Whether you’re up for the challenge of your life or just want to have fun with your friends, these days there are all kinds of mad, stupid and plain crazy races to do. From muddy fun runs with after-parties, to wacky local events, to extreme endurance tests in rough conditions. We've picked the best:

The race for endurance junkies

What: Ötillö
Where: Stockholm, Sweden
When: Sept 1st, 2014.
How hard: 9

This race attracts ironman and multisport athletes, elite military teams, endurance junkies, nut cases and strong-willed athletes. The island-to-island swim and run for teams of two consists of 65km of trail running and 10km of open water swimming between 26 islands in the Stockholm archipelago. You run in your wetsuit and swim in your shoes. The swims are rough and cold, between 10-15°C. You run off-trail, over rocks, sometimes climbing. The course record is 8h 35m.
Still too easy for you? Check out the world's toughest ultra runs. We guarantee they'll leave you satisfied, provided you survive...

The start of the Ö til lÖ swim run
Why are they running in swimming gear? © Jakob Edholm/ÖTILLÖ 13

Short but, OMG it’s steep!

What: Red Bull 400
When: May
How hard: 7

Warning: Sprinting up the face of one of the steepest ski-jump slopes in Europe is going to hurt. You will need quads of steel, a head for heights and be able to carry on as the waves of nausea sweep over you.

The Redbull 400 is the brainchild of former world-class sprinter Andreas Berger who wanted to create the world's most extreme track and field event. We think he succeeded. It’s only 400 metres, but with 180m vertical ascent! That's an average gradient of about 45%. It’s so steep you have to do most of it on all fours.

Competitors perform during the Red Bull 400 at the Puijo skijumping arena in Kuopio, Finland on May 17th 2014
Short but steep: competitors race up a ski jump © Victor Engstr�m/Red Bull Content Pool

The run for those who like to get dirty

What: Fisherman's Friend StrongmanRun
: All over Europe
When: May to November
How hard: 6

Mud runs and obstacle courses have taken the world by storm. Who would have guessed that crawling over nets, under barbed wire and wading through bogs of filth could be so much fun. The latest to join the fray is the Fisherman’s Friend StrongmanRun.

The course consists of dirty challenges like mud holes, climbing walls, crawling through foam, super slides, more mud holes, dark rooms, net rolling, tyre jumping, more mud and finally a shower. DJs and bands keep you going.

A competitor tackles the tyres during the Fisherman Friend Strongman Run
Feeling strong? This race will give you the answer ©

The run for vamps, gouls and ZOMBIES... 

What: The Zombie Run
When: Summer
Where: US and Germany
How hard: 2

One of the wackiest races to appear, the Zombie run is a 5k with a difference. Set against the backdrop of the human race's imminent extinction, competitors have to run for their lives as they're chased by zombies emerging from all directions. Obstacles like mud pits and climbing walls also feature.

Do you have what it takes to face the terrors lurking out there? If not, don't worry, there's always the post-apocalyptic afterparty to go to.

See also Europe's first Zombiethon for Zombie runs in Germany.

Run for your life – before the zombies get you © The Zombie Run

For those who REALLY want to run for their lives

What: Running with the bulls
: July 6-14
Where: Pamplona, Spain
How hard: Depends if the bull is right behind you

The Encierro – The Running of the Bulls – is a race for true daredevils and takes place every morning during the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona, Spain. When the church clock strikes 8am two rockets are launched and the bulls charge behind the runners, for 825 metres, the distance between the corral and the bullring.

To run the encierro you need cool nerves, quick reflexes and a good physical fitness level – none of which you'll have after a hard night of partying, which makes it all the more fun and risky, depending on your view.

Pamplona: Not your average fun run © Christian Kober / Getty

The original classic multisport race

What: Speight's Coast to Coast
: February 13-14, 2015.
Where: New Zealand
How hard: 9

Founded in 1983, the Speight’s Coast to Coast is the original and classic one-day multisport race. It's the race that makes all others look like poor imitations – and the one to take on for serious respect.

The race traverses the South Island of New Zealand and the Southern Alps with 36km trail running, 140km road cycling and 67km river kayaking.

Is it tough? Let’s just say that New Zealand is the home of multisport and historically has had the best multisport athletes in the world, and this is their championship. Crazy? Well, when you're battling exhaustion while trying to negotiate the rapids of the Waimakariri River, you think you will be.

River crossing during the Speights Coast to Coast
It's not called the longest day for nothing ©

More Crazy? If you want the last word in crazy, you should meet the Adventurists, a bunch of eccentric Brits who organise a race across India on Rickshaws – yes, those rickety 3-wheel motorbikes. No fitness required but a desire for madcap adventures is a must...

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