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The Ultimate Guide To Finding Your Next Running Race, Trail Race, Or Obstacle Race

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There’s nothing more exciting for a runner than race day. If you’ve never run a race – get ready for an awesome experience:

The crowds.

The nerves.

The start line.

The race.

The finish line.

The post-race food & drink.

And checking your official race time!

If you’re an experienced runner – well, for most of us it’s not all that different. Racing is just plain fun!

Why Racing Makes You Really “Cool”

I’m not looking to bash any runners who just want to run for the heck of it. Anyone who laces up their shoes and hits the road (or trail or mud or track) deserves a lot of credit. After all there’s plenty of people who sit on their ass and do nothing.

But racing takes running to the next level. How? Because it does. And because of all the following reasons:

  • You take yourself out of your comfort zone and travel a path you’ve never traveled before
  • You put yourself out there in front of a bunch of people to see
  • You measure your ability against a clock
  • Love it or hate, it’s a great accomplishment
  • And you get a really colorful shirt that your non-running friends don’t have!

Finding a race isn’t all that hard. You’ll see articles & ads in your local paper. Your fellow runners will let you know what races they’re running. Sometimes you’ll get a flyer on your windshield from other local race sponsors when you park at a race. And once you run a race, you’ll start getting on mailing lists for other local races.

But wait, there’s a better way!

You can find your next race here. Below is a list of the top directories I put together to help you find whatever type of race you’re looking for!

You’ll find big races. And small races. Road races. And trail races. Marathons. And obstacle races. All here in one big list.


Top Directories For Finding Your Next Running Race

Road races come in a variety of distances. The most common distance is 5k, but you can find races in distances ranging from 1 mile up to 100 miles (and longer). Here are 3 of the top directories to help you find your next 5k, 10, Half Marathon, and more:

Helpful Tips To Prepare For Your Next Running Race:

12 Mistakes Beginner Runners Make (and how to fix them)
“If you tell yourself you can’t do something, chances are you won’t be able to achieve it. If you have a big time goal, or you’re attempting a new distance you’re worried about, you need to believe in your own abilities before it will become a reality.”

7 Remarkably Simple Ways To Become A Stronger Runner (and Maybe Even Enjoy It)
“If there’s a secret ninja tactic to getting drastically more efficient as a runner — and as a result, faster — then it’s a pretty lame one. Run. Run some more. Run some more.”

Why Isn’t My Running Getting Faster?
“If you aren’t in the right headspace to push harder, train harder, expect more from yourself and stop settling for average, than you may not see the success that you are after. Spend some time working on your mental training, or take a look and see if maybe you’re not in the right place in your life right now to devote the necessary mental capacity to making this happen.”


Photo courtesy of Gianina Lindsey on Flickr

Top Directories For Finding Your Next Trail Race

Trail races are a fun alternative to road races. The experience is entirely different – obviously the terrain is different, but is the feeling as you jump over roots & rocks, make twists & turns, climb steep hills, and work muscles you never knew you had! Here are 3 of the top directories to help you find your next trail race:

Helpful Tips To Prepare For Your Next Trail Race:

12 Tips to prepare for your first trail race
“Training for a trail race can be different than training for a road race but don’t be intimidated. Once you head out into the beauty of nature you will be hooked. Trail running and trail racing will take you to places that you have never seen before and you will meet a different breed of runner on the trails.”

Trail Running Tips for Adventure Addicts: Risks, Benefits, and How to Get Started
“What holds us back from trail running? The surprising answer is that most runners are afraid of trail running. They’re unsure of what it takes, worried about injury, or scared they might get lost. And on top of that, many aren’t even sure where to start. But trail running is incredibly accessible – almost anyone can get started today and reap the rewards of getting off the roads.”

The Benefits of Trail Running: 8 Reasons to Hit the Trails
“Appreciate the break from the stress and commotion of everyday life, and even of the crowds and traffic that can accompany road running. For lack of better social media contrived terms: UNPLUG.”


Photo courtesy of 7th Army Training Command on Flickr

Top Directories For Finding Your Next Obstacle Race Or Mud Run

The fastest growing type of race the last few yers has been the obstacle race, also known as a mud run. Why? One reason – they’re a blast! where else can you challenge your physical & mental toughness, do it with a bunch of your best friends, get covered in mud & sweat & other yucky stuff – and still end up with a huge smile on your face!!! if you’re looking to take the challenge, here are 3 of the top directories to help you find your next obstacle or mud run:

Helpful Tips To Prepare For Your Next Obstacle race Or Mud Run:

6 Training Tips For Your Next Obstacle Race
“Who in their right mind would want to run for miles, jump over obstacles, crawl through mud pits, plunge into ice cold water, and jump through fire, and pay to do it? Surprisingly, the answer is ‘many’.”

5 Tips For Kicking Ass In Obstacle Races
“An obstacle race is sure to challenge you in ways you never imagined, so you’re less likely to be surprised if you repeatedly train outside your comfort zone.
Think you can’t do one more rep? Dare yourself try.
Think you can’t go 10 seconds longer than last time? Will yourself to do it.
Think you can’t get faster? Gradually increase your pace during training, even if means sacrificing time or distance.”

12 Tips You Need To Know Before Your 1st Mud Race
“There are still some serious competitors at these races but overall a fun run brings in runners of all ages, shapes, sizes and athletic abilities. This type of race draws people who want to share a unique and memorable experience together.”

Top Directories For Finding Your Next Marathon

There’s just something incredible about the lure of a marathon – it’s certainly not easy … it’s not really all that much fun (at least not in the same ways a short race is fun) … it’s not quick … and it’s definitely not for everyone. Yet the number of people who are running marathons increases nearly each and every year! So if you’re bold & daring, here are 3 of the top directories to help you find your next marathon:

Helpful Tips To Prepare For Your Next Marathon:

Expectations vs. Realities Of Your First Marathon
“Expectation: It will be life changing.
Reality: It will be life changing.”

How To Set A Realistic Marathon Goal Time
“If you actually want to improve as a runner and reach your race goals, winging it is not a good plan … at all. Ever.”

The Mental Side Of Marathon Running
“Good runs will help build your confidence, bad runs may make you question your abilities (something you’re sure to do on race day) but also force you to either push on or quit. And that’s a choice you’ll be faced with in your marathon – push on or quit. Quitting doesn’t necessarily mean dropping out, but it does mean giving up on something – a time goal, a pace, a push to run to the next mile marker.”

State-By-State Racing Calendars

The big race directories are a great resource for finding races. But sometimes the smaller ones can slip through the cracks – and that’s where local directories can help you find some real gems! The atmosphere at big races is awesome! But sometimes the best races are the small ones. Here is a list of race calendars by state (for the states where I couldn’t find a listing, I used – if you know of any I missed, by all means let me know!):

ArkansasNew Hampshire
California – northernNew Jersey
California – southernNew Mexico
ColoradoNew York (city)
ConnecticutNew York (upstate)
DCNorth Carolina
DelawareNorth Dakota
IllinoisRhode Island
IndianaSouth Carolina
IowaSouth Dakota
MichiganWest Virginia

Have any suggestions for race tips? Or best places to find races? Let me know in the comments below!


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2 Comments on "The Ultimate Guide To Finding Your Next Running Race, Trail Race, Or Obstacle Race"

Christie Hawkes

Thank you for the guides, Kris. I have a tendency to alternate between the same races, because I know what to expect and I’m in my comfort zone, but I’m ready to branch out and experience something new. This will definitely help.