Recycling last year’s calendar—or perhaps burning it, if you’re like me—brings with it the gift of a blank, 12-month fitness slate upon which you can inscribe new wellness goals. If your 2014 aspirations include a race of any kind, now is the time to choose a date and begin sketching out a reasonable training plan. Here are some of the coolest, oddest, and most challenging athletic competitions in our area to aspire toward this year:
Fight for Air Climb
In this iconic race, climb the Rainier Tower’s 40 floors to raise funds for the American Lung Association. Compete as a team or individually in the Family/Friends or Elite categories—or if you’re really intense (and a hero) climb in your firefighter, military, police, or EMT garb with the First Responder division. Saturday, Jan. 25, 8 a.m., climbrainiertower.org.
Valentine’s Day lovers and haters alike can agree that this costumed, nighttime 5K adventure race through the streets of West Seattle make the holiday worth celebrating—sandwiched by happy hour and two post race parties (pro- and anti-Valentine’s). All funds benefit the A21 Campaign against human trafficking. Friday, Feb. 14, 6 p.m., cupid5k.com.
Named “One of Four Classic Rides” by Bicycling magazine, our region’s first major ride of the year offers hardcore bikers a thigh-burning 33 miles of 2,675 vertical feet through the tranquil roads of Bainbridge Island. Free cider and baked goodies are available along the way, while a chili feed fundraiser waits at the finish line. Sunday, Feb. 23, 8 a.m., Bainbridge Ferry Dock, cascade.org.
Lake Sammamish Half Marathon
Runners partial to flat surfaces will adore this speedy 13-mile course along the East Lake Sammamish trail from Marymoor to Issaquah. All funds benefit Cascade Challenge, an outdoor leadership nonprofit for teens. Saturday, Mar. 8, 6 a.m., lakesammamishhalf.com.
Squak Mountain 12K, Half-Marathon, Marathon and 50K Trail Run
If a woodsy workout brings you joy, consider an extensive race along the wild trails of Squak Mountain, which will offer well-marked routes for a variety of course lengths. Bonus: The first runner of each category to reach Squak’s summit wins a pair of Teko socks. Saturday, Apr. 12, 7 a.m., evergreentrailruns.com.
Good Karma 5K
In this choose-your-own-charity fun run, kindhearted racers can choose to earn bonus good vibes along the way by stopping at up to seven “Good Karma Stations”—including free Locks of Love haircuts and thank-you notes for Northwest military families. Sunday, May 25, 9 a.m., goodkarma5k.com.
Rock n Roll Marathon
Leave your iPod at home for 26.2 miles of free tunes by local bands. Competitors enjoy nearly 20 music stages along the route, swag bags, free admission to the Health & Fitness Expo and, naturally, free admission to a post race concert and festival. Saturday, Jun. 21, 7 a.m., runrocknroll.competitor.com/seattle.
Group Health Seattle To Portland Bicycle Classic
Is Seattle or Portland the hipper city? Ride 200 miles through farmland, valleys, and forests to see for yourself. Cascade Bicycle Club’s biggest annual fundraiser brings 10,000 bikers together for one (or two) days of sweaty fun, culminating in a raging finish-line festival at Holladay Park.
Saturday-Sunday, Jul. 12-13, 5:15 a.m. cascade.org.
See Jane Run
Ladies only! Choose between a half marathon and a 5K, sandwiched between pre- and post race women’s festivals full of vendors offering massages, clothing, jewelry and other luxuries. The clincher: All finishers get free champagne and chocolate!
Sunday, Jul. 13, 6 a.m., seejanerun.com.
Let your macho side wild for this 3.15-mile race through a wooded course of 12 rugged obstacles with ominous names like “Plunge,” “Storming Normandy” and “Warrior Roast.” All warriors win a T-shirt, Viking helmet, custom medal, access to the post race party and—if over 21—a free beer.
Saturday, Jul. 19, 9 a.m., warriordash.com.
Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party (RSVP)
Make the 270-mile migration north by farmland, forests and Samish Bay in either the Friday/Saturday or Saturday/Sunday group. Riders will stay the night in Bellingham after 188 miles, then party hard in downtown Vancouver at the finish line festival.
Friday-Sunday, Aug. 15-17, 6 a.m. cascade.org.
Lake Stevens Ironman 70.3
For full-on triathletes, this race is the real deal: a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run right in our backyard. Race in teams or as an ironman (or ironwoman), then nosh on free food. Winners could qualify for the 2014 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Quebec.
Sunday, Aug. 17, 5 a.m., ironman.com.
If you need a little (or a lot) of encouragement this training season, check out Bellevue Club’s latest Swim Bike Run training program. Professional triathlete Rusty Pruden can help you tackle one sport or all three. For more information, call 425.688.3172.