While running a 5K through a park or neighborhood on a Saturday morning can be fun and a great way to test your race pace, some runners need a little edge to their race. In the Chicago area, you can get down and dirty, hop on a bike and go for a swim as part of a competitive race. If you don’t feel like racing, you can also cheer on your runner from the sidelines. To get started in finding events that are not your standard road race, consider checking out the following races.


Life Time Tri Chicago
Downtown Chicago

Date: Aug. 25, 2013

Considered the country’s biggest triathlon by Triathlete Magazine, Life Time Tri Chicago has approximately 15,000 participants who will run, swim and bike during the race. The downtown Chicago lakefront serves as the stunning backdrop to the event, which includes participants swimming in Monroe Harbor. Check out the event’s website for more information regarding the course map so you can find the best spot to cheer on the triathlon’s participants.

Spartan Race
The Cliff’s Off-Road Park
2725 E. 2625th Road
Marseilles, IL 61341
www.spartanrace.comDates: July 20 and 21, 2013

Are you ready to test your mettle? The Spartan Race isn’t your father’s off-road event. The race challenges participants to climb, swim and crawl through mud over a course that’s more than eight miles long. This race is a Super Spartan race and includes mud runs and more than 15 obstacles on the course. Instead of participating by yourself, consider grabbing some of your friends and having them join you; you can have an unlimited number of people on your team, but you’ll need at least four. Kids can also participate in a shorter, scaled-down version of the race, too, making it a fun day for the entire family. And since you might wind up as muddy as these participants, you might want to wear clothes you don’t care get dirty.

Mud Run - Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Pretty Muddy Women’s Mud Run
Course TBA

Date: Sept. 7, 2013

The Pretty Muddy Women’s Mud Run is a race just for the ladies. The run is a 5K for women that features mud, a run/walk, climbing obstacles and oh yeah, lots of mud. At the end of the race, participants can chill out and relax with the after-race party. It’s advised that you bring a change of clothes for after the race, and you must leave jewelry and pets at home. Have fun with your race attire, as awards for best costume will be given. The obstacle course location is still being finalized, so check out the race’s website for more information.

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Woodstock Duathlon
Emricson Park
1313 Kishwauke
Woodstock, IL 60098
www.kjmultisport.comDate: Sept. 22, 2013

When you think of Woodstock, you probably think of the movie “Groundhog Day” or the town’s quaint downtown. But it’s also the site of the Woodstock Duathlon, a race that incorporates both running and biking in two different courses. The short course consists of a 2K run, a 20K bike and then another 2K run, while the long course starts with a 10K run, then a 40K bike and culminates in a 5K run. Relay teams consisting of two people are permitted.

Photo Credit: Bank Of America Marathon Via Facebook

Photo Credit: Bank Of America Marathon Via Facebook

Bank Of America Chicago Marathon
Grant Park
Columbus Dr. and Monroe St.
Chicago, IL 60602

Date: Oct. 13, 2013

While we stated above that we’d focus on off-road races, it would be remiss of us to omit the Bank of America Chicago Marathon from our list of upcoming events. After all, it’s 26.2 miles of flat terrain winding through the city, passing by the best the city has to offer and right along Lake Michigan, and starting and ending at Grant Park. While registration for the marathon has closed, you can certainly still cheer on runners as they make their way through the course through 29 neighborhoods in Chicago. To find a spot to cheer on the marathoners, check out the course’s map.

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Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.