Wings for Life World Run

7 running races with quirky (but cool) rules

There’s a start and finish line, but these races are hardly normal. Get ready to bend the rules.
By Will Gray

You may have done your local 'turkey trot', or even signed up for an obstacle race like Tough Mudder, but if you're getting bored, worry not, there are plenty of other ways to challenge your legs, mind, willpower, and occasionally, dignity – from races that require you to push a shopping cart through city streets to those that pit you against a horse. Just like these events.

Race a car at the Wings for Life World Run

Location: 35 locations worldwide
Distance: Depends when you're caught
Why it's unique: There is no finish line
Next race: May 3, 2015

This is an event that begins with no end and sees runners all over the globe in simultaneous races being chased down by a catcher car until the last one is caught.

The car sets off 30 minutes after the runners and chases them down at a speed of 15kph. It gets faster every hour and ends each entrant's run when it races past them. Sign up here right now!

Run the height of Everest – on stairs

Competitors in the Saxony stairs race in Germany, where racers try to climb the height of Mt Everest on stairs
Just 79,400 steps © Ulf Kuehne

Location: Saxony, Germany
Distance: 84.39km
Why it's unique: Climb the height of Mount Everest
Next race: April 18–19, 2015

This brutal stair race sees runners climb up and down 397 steps again and again until they have ascended the height of the world's highest mountain.

That's 8,848m, which is a total of 79,400 steps. There is a 24-hour cut-off time and any competitor who completes more than 100 rounds of the course is honoured in a special post-race ceremony.

Race a horse

Competitors in the Man vs Horse race, which takes place in Llanwrtwd, North Wales every year
The incredible Man vs Horse race © Garreth Everett/Huw Evans Agency

Location: Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales
Distance: 22 miles (35.2km)
Why it's unique: Race against a horse
Next Race: June 13, 2015

Only twice has a horse been beaten in this bizarre challenge, where humans compete against horses over rough terrain.

Started in 1980 as a result of a pub bet, the first 24 races were won by horses before Huw Lobb finally took victory for the humans in 2004. Man has only won once since, and the field is now 50 horses and over 500 runners.

Push a shopping cart through Boston

Competitors in the Boston Shopping Trolley Race, which takes place every year in Boston, Massachusetts
Ready to race? These people are © Getty Images/Boston Globe

Location: Boston, MA, USA
Distance: +/- 5km
Why it’s unique: Running with a shopping trolley
Next race: April 4th 2015

This bizarre event is a nod to the legendary Alaskan dog sled race – with people replacing dogs and shopping trolleys in place of sleds.

Part race, part costume contest and part bar-crawl, it requires teams of four to six people to deck out trolleys like carnival floats and find the fastest route between five 'challenge' checkpoints.

NOTE: Similar events take place in cities around the USA.

Race while sitting down

Location: Hong Kong
Distance: 2.1km
Why it’s unique: Running with a chair and passenger
Next race: October 2015

This heavy lifting contest requires a team of eight runners – plus one lucky/lazy person to sit in the chair.

First held in 1975 with four entrants, the sedan chair race is part of Hong Kong's heritage and in 2014, 40 years later, it involved 48 teams competing to raise money for little-known local charities.

Race a train at the Puffing Billy

Runners compete in the Puffing Billy running race against a steam train in Melbourne, Australia
Racing a train in Melbourne, Australia © Getty Images/Fairfax Media

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Distance: 13.2km
Why it’s unique: Racing a train
Next race: May 3, 2015

The Puffing Billy steam train travels at a constant 14kph, and runners must hit a consistent pace of 4m 15s per kilometre to beat it.

The undulating course snakes up a hill and includes several train crossing points. Off-pace runners must stop and watch the train go by, making it very hard to recover if you fall behind.

Race over a mountain

Location: Snowdonia, Wales
Distance: 20 miles (32km)
Why it’s unique: A mountain crossing with a difference
Next race: September 5, 2015

From sea level to the summit of Snowdon and back down, this race begins as a steady ascent and ends in a wet and wild obstacle course.

The route includes sections of jumping, swimming and scrambling over natural and man-made obstacles built into the landscape. And if that's not enough, the unpredictable Welsh weather can offer plenty of surprises too.

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