Top 5 Alternative Running Events

Have you ever gotten bored of entering normal, standardised race events? Have you ever wondered, ‘what if there was something different I could do?’

Something New.

Something Crazy.

Well look no further because I’ve absolutely got you covered. Here are my top five alternative running events that are guaranteed to keep you interested like never before.

A running man

1) The Coal Carrying World Championships

We’re kicking things off with the Coal Carrying World Championships. The annual event has been running for more than fifty years and is held in Gawthorpe, a small village in the area of Wakefield in England.

Full disclosure, the title of ‘world championships’ is pretty generous, as the event is known to only a small handful of people. Theoretically, though, anyone from anywhere in the world is more than welcome to turn up and have a go!

The race involves participants running one mile whilst carrying a bag of coal in any way they see fit. For men the bag weighs 50kg and for women the bag weighs 20kg. Races continue across the day, and there are even cash prizes for the top performers. £750 for first place, £500 for second place, £250 for third place and £125 for fourth.


The event is also family friendly, with shorter children’s races and youth races separated by age category. Not bad for something that started as a drunken bet between two Yorkshiremen back in 1963!

2) Streak for Tigers

Another UK Based event, streak for tigers is a charity event at London Zoo. As you might have guessed from the name, runners will be completely naked (except for a tiger mask supplied by the zoo) and will run a small distance of 350m. The race is organised in order to raise money for tiger preservation and conservation.

Luckily for the runners, the event is usually held in the summer, and there’s plenty of foil blankets waiting for everyone at the finish line!

3) Wife-Carrying Races

Yep, you read that right, our third entry for bizarre alternative running events is wife carrying races. The aim of the game is to put your partner on your shoulders and run 250m (the length of the official track by world stands).


Don’t go thinking this is a small event either. The race is multinational, with events being held in Finland, Sweden, the UK, America, Australia, Estonia and even Hong Kong!  In keeping with this international theme the race is known as Eukonkanto in Finnish, Naisekandmine in Estonian, Karringkank in Swedish and Bhaaryaasametham in Indian.

There are even official rules, including…

  • ‘Wife must be at least 49kg’
  • ‘Track has two dry obstacles and one water obstacle’
  • ‘Everyone must have fun’ (It’s really one of the official rules)

Winners of these type of event usually win the wife’s weight in some sort of alcoholic beverage, but there are also prizes for best costume, most entertaining couple and strongest carrier. Here’s a video to give you a feel for what the events are like.

4) The Color Run

In at number four we have another event that isn’t specific to any single location. The colour run is a multinational 5-kilometre race in which participants get coated in multi-coloured corn starch every kilometre.

The Color Run Edition

The event claims to be the ‘happiest 5k on the planet,’ and isn’t even officially timed, so definitely not a race for serious or competitive runners.

Luckily the event organisers provide a free t-shirt, so you don’t have to ruin your own clothes. Also, a top tip would be to bring a change of clothes for your journey home, unless you want to make your car or choice of public transport the brightest thing on earth! If you’re looking to join in then the event takes place on pretty much every continent on the planet and across literally dozens of countries. Simply pop ‘The Color Run’ into google and you’ll find something in your area. What’s more, every event is run in partnership with both local and national charities to raise money for good causes.

Two people running

5) The Hunt

Our last event takes us to Nottingham in England, where a one of kind race sees participants hunted by none other than ‘The Terminator’ and ‘The Predator!’ Yes, you really did read that one correctly (I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot in this article) the event is a 10-kilometre paintball themed race where the two movie villians ride quad bikes to hunt down runners before they reach the safe zone. If that didn’t sound fun enough, then you should know that the Hunter’s have also set paint based booby traps to catch unsuspecting runners off guard!

However, if you can get to the end of the course without getting covered in paint, you’ll earn a share of £1000 (depending on how many others finish with you). There are also prizes for the top 3 male and top 3 female finishers. Got your interest? Here’s the official website for more details.

Sprint Start

That’s it, my top 5 choices of alternative running events; colour runs, wife carrying, coal carrying, escaping hunters and streaking for tigers. Even if you’re bored of traditional runs you’re bound to find one of these reinvigorates your passion for the sport. Plus with some sweet cash prizes up for grabs, you might just come out a few hundred pounds richer!

So, which event do you think looks the most fun? And are you considering signing up for one of them? Better yet, have you ever completed one of these events? Let me know in the comments below.

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