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Posts Tagged ‘vertical running’

A Different Kind of Trail Running: Adventure Races

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

mud-running-raceUSA Today posted an article yesterday titled, “Runners get down and dirty for a thrill in Extreme Races” where it discussed the rise of less traditional running races.  The article mentions obstacle-course-themed mud runs, adventure runs through the woods and across rivers with only using GPS, and mountain runs, but while most of these races are done on trails, it never specifically mentions trail running.  We at agree, trail running is a category sport all of its own.  However, any running on trails can be considered trail running, but when you throw in mud slides, GPS navigation, or multiple race vehicles, we categorize them as “adventure races” here on’s race listings.

Vonda Wright, assistant professor in orthopedic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for Sports Medicine and author of Fitness after 40, says in the article, “Overuse injuries can happen when people just run, run, run.  Our bodies, our muscles in particular, have muscle memory, and the best way to challenge them without getting stuck in an overuse rut is to mix it up.”  That’s the same with trail running.  There has been a strong movement for runners to get off of the roads and into other activities, whether it be triathlons, adventure races, or trail running because they now understand the medical benefits of changing their exercise routines.

But adventure races have also caught on because they are fun and can be done by people are not necessarily athletic.  When the Warrior Dash came through town a month or two ago I had friends that I didn’t know ever exercised say they were going to participate.  One friend even went out to buy a bike at Target just for the event!  If you’ve ever wanted to try an adventure race here are some cool ones to check out:

Columbia Muddy Buddy:  Two teams traverse over a 6-7 mile course and 5 obstacles.  At the start of the race on team      muddy-buddy-racemember runs while the other will ride the bike.  Once the bike rider reaches the first obstacle they drop the back, complete the obstacle and begin running to the next one.  Once the runner reaches the first obstacle they must complete it, then pick up the bike and ride it to the next obstacle.  You and your partner leap frog like that until the end of the race where you will have to crawl through the famous mud pit and cross the finish line together.  A fun race that anyone can do, with events being held all across the country.

running-verticalStair Climbing or Vertical Running:  You’ll need to go to a big city to run a vertical running event.  These events are run in downtown buildings in which runners run up 30-50 flights of stairs.  They are a great work out for your quads and if you aren’t a big runner you can always walk up the stairs.  Runners are sent up the building in 10 second intervals to allow for spacing so passing can be difficult.  The view at the finish line is usually pretty sweet though!

Fell Running:  These races are mountain running with a twist, racers are required to navigate themselves and must bring survival gear.  I consider mountain running and trail running to be interchangeable because both are about running on trails over varying terrain, but fell running takes mountain and trail running to a new level by not having a specific race course.  Runners must use a map to navigate the route they want to take to the finish and checkpoints.  Fell Running is more popular in the UK than the US, but who knows, it may grow here.

Hash Running:  There are Hash Clubs all across the United States.  Hash running involves chasing after the Hare who leaves directional signs of where the route is to go, sometimes pointing in more than one direction, and everyone runs to the finish.  There is drinking involved so make sure you are 21.  More information on Hash Running.

Non Trail Races with a Twist:  Lastly there are races that add a twist for some extra fun.  Like the Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh,krispy-kreme-race NC hosted by students from NC State.  In this race runners must run 2 miles to the local Krispy Kreme donut shop, eat a dozen donuts, and then race back 2 miles.  If that isn’t extreme I don’t know what is.  Another extreme challenge I’ve tried is running naked.  Butts A’ Runnin’ Race Enterprises (the race director’s last name is actually Butts) puts on a race series every year held at different nudist resorts around the Southeast.  These races are a blast!  Runners may run fully clothed or completely naked.  I opted for completely naked except for running shoes and socks.  Read more about my experience running naked.

Try some of these new races and have a blast!

Running Vertical

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010


When I can’t run on trails I like to run races that mirror urban trail running.  Last weekend I got a chance to participate in a unique race: running to the top of 191 Peachtree, a 50-story office building in downtown Atlanta. I was sorta bummed the race wouldn’t be happening in the Bank of America building as it had in years past since BofA is the tallest in Atlanta (and 8th tallest in the US) but at 770 feet, 191 Peachtree ain’t no slouch (it’s the 4th tallest in the ATL and 57th tallest in the US). The race was held as a benefit for the American Lung Association and each racer is required to raise at least $100 in donations on top of the $25 entry fee.


At around 9am on Saturday morning the racers lined up on the street outside of the building and I chatted a few folks up to see what my strategy should be. Everyone I spoke to laughed when I asked if they ran the whole way – most of them planned to walk. One guy I spoke with said he walked the whole thing last year in a time of around 12 minutes which didn’t sound too bad. Heck, I could do almost anything for 12 minutes!

I hadn’t done any training for the race but I still thought it should be possible to jog up at least the first few floors. A couple years ago I used to include stadium step running in my training routine and I was actually sorta good at it. But running stadium steps is a little different than running up 50 flights of stairs – at least you get a break when you descend the aisles.

At the race, runners were sent up the stairs in 10 second intervals to avoid a massive traffic jam. The event was chip timed with mats at the bottom and top of the course. I decided to start off at a decent clip, taking 2 steps at a time and I immediately started passing runners who started before me. Before I knew it I blew past the first water stop (seriously) on the 8th floor. Next thing I knew, I was still jogging at the halfway mark, 25 floors. My strategy was to run up the stairs and walk across the transition landings which helped because I was starting to get dizzy from running around in circles.

By the time I hit the second water stop at the 38th floor I was starting to feel pretty spent and around 40 I have to admit I walked 2 or 3 floors. With one final push to the top, I ran up the remaining levels and entered the 50th floor to a cheering crowd lining the hallway. Gatorade and sweeping views of the Atlanta skyline awaited and after cooling down for a few minutes I took the elevator back down to earth.

I didn’t time myself during the run so I waited around for the results and was surprised at how well I did: 7 mins, 30 secs (9 sec per floor) which earned me third place overall out of about 200 runners. As my brother Chris said, it seems like I may have found my race. With a little training I’ll be back next year, ready to take first!