The best fitness challenges in 2016
Are your fitness resolutions slipping? Reach your goals this year by entering an event. Here's our pick of the best!
There’s been a boom in mass participant events and races in the past few years as people search out new ways to get a buzz and challenge from fitness. Marathon running itself has increased by almost 15 per cent since 2009, according to research from RunRepeat.com, with women’s participation growing by over a whopping 25 per cent. Whether you want to smash some goals in 2016, or just want to find the motivation to yourself to get fit and active, here’s a list of the best events and races coming up over the next 365 days. Go on, challenge yourself…
1. Take a gym challenge
If you’re after a gym challenge, Fitness First is adding to its gold-medal worthy classes to its Team GB classes. The 40-minute Team GB Pro Cycling class encompasses the five disciplines inherent to being a pro cyclist - technique, speed, endurance, strength and power. The class has a training phase section where each of these areas are explored, followed by a section called ‘The Race’. Each release will theme itself around a type of cycling seen typically in the Olympic Games. Many of their clubs also host athletic training to have you pumped for Rio 2016. Visit www.fitnessfirst.co.uk for more info.
2. Run a half Marathon
If you’ve run a few half marathons and your challenge is getting a personal best, Vitality Reading Half Marathon (www.readinghalfmarathon.com) could boost your chances. One of the largest half marathons in the UK, the event had almost 20,000 registered runners in 2015 and provides an ideal course for PBs. The race takes place on April 3 and entry starts at £38.
3. Try an obstacle race
Want to find out just how fit you really are? Judgment Day events cover all bases when it comes to testing your metal, with three races to choose from. In the obstacle races, the course is kept under wraps until the day of the event, delivering plenty of surprise. Sign up for the trail run event and you’ll be rewarded with rugged scenery and spectacular views. Expect a mix of well-travelled and challenging trails, with plenty of steep ascents and a few surprises thrown in. And lastly ‘The Unknown’ is a 36-hour endurance event to test even the most ardent fitness lover! Events are throughout the year and prices start from £25. Head to www.judgement-day.co.uk for more information.
4. Race at night
Imagined by course designers intent on developing the most intense and memorable mud-run ever, Night Games Races (nightgamesraces.com) has created the world’s first obstacle race series to be run exclusively at night, and is holding its first run at Deene Park in Northamptonshire on April 16. Armed with only a head torch to light the way, obstacle racers will have to tackle fire jumps, jet-powered wind turbines, barbed wire, ice skips, hidden paintball snipers and more in a 10 mile challenge on a 4,000 acre plot of land unlike any other midnight stroll. Tickets start from £90, but discounts are available.
5. Try competition climbing
Fancy joining the fastest growing national sports team? Often considered to be a man’s world, competition climbing in the UK is seeing a real surge in its successes thanks to a group of strong, committed young women who are putting the GB team on the international map. For your local centre or climbing opportunity, head to the British Mountaineering Council website (www.thebmc.co.uk).
6. Sign up for a breakfast run
If you’re aiming to run a marathon this year, building preparation races into your training calendar is essential. For for 2016, the Lidl Kingston Breakfast Run (April 3) is back and ready to help even more runners with their training. The event has distances of 8.2, 16.2 and 20 miles to choose from and pacers. Race partner Lidl will greet all runners at the finish line with some special goody bags, too! Visit www.humanrace.co.uk/running for information on how to enter.
7. Be a warrior
What makes Total Warrior (www.totalwarrior.co.uk) stand out from its mud race counterparts? Its stunning venues with courses set in the rolling hills of the Lake District (August 6 and 7) and the beautiful city of Edinburgh (September 10 and 11). Don’t be fooled by the peaceful surroundings, the obstacles are still pretty challenging – think warrior crawls, slides and a huge mud pit nicknamed ‘The Cement Mixer.’ We recommended pairing up with a buddy or group of friends to make this one messy, fun challenge that you won’t forget.
8. Run America
If you’ve already tried UK-based runs, how about mixing things up completely and heading to the US for a marathon experience? An Arizona running tradition for 38 years, the Whiskey Row Marathon, May 16, is among the toughest races in the USA. Featuring rugged terrain, an altitude in excess of one mile above sea level and, on occasion, severe weather, it’s challenging, fun and offers a number of running routes for runners of all skill and fitness levels, including a half marathon, a 10k and a two mile run/walk. Head to www.whiskeyrowmarathon.com for more information.
9. Book a fitness holiday
Lost your workout mojo? How about combining a challenge with a relaxing holiday? Sign up for the Formentera Half Marathon in May and pair it with a 38 Degrees North Fitness holiday on the neighbouring island of Ibiza. Nestled in the coastal town of Santa Eulalia, overlooking the sea, beaches and stunning scenery, the retreat is the perfect base for a detoxing, de-stressing, wellbeing fitness escape surrounded by landscapes of imposing mountains and stunning beaches! Personal training sessions are combined with group exercise classes, including rooftop yoga, Pilates and power ballet as well as stand-up paddle boarding sessions. If you’re after something less far flung, the team also host retreats right here in the UK. Visit thirtyeightdegreesnorth.com for more info.
10. Suffer for your goals
Become a certified ‘relentless legend’ by entering the Relentless Suffering in Rockingham Castle, Leicestershire on March 12; three races in one event designed to get your heart pumping. First comes the Pain & Suffering 10 miler, then move you onto The Suffering 10km which has over 25 obstacles and finally you will move on to the Suffering V, 5km obstacle run. Interested? Head to www.thesufferingrace.co.uk.
11. Run an island marathon
Travel to the Faroe Islands in June and take part in the Tórshavn Marathon (www.torshavnmarathon.com) on June 4, a unique 26-mile long race. First organised in 2003 with 200-odd participants, the event now sees thousands of people running the tough course. With almost 95 per cent of the marathon hugging the Faroe Islands’ rugged coastline, enjoy the beautiful scenery and cascading waterfalls while powering up challenging hills and dodging friendly sheep. Talk to the other competitors en route, many of whom have crossed the world to take part. Those nervous about running 26 miles can always sign up to the half marathon instead. Prices start from £505 pp (two sharing), including flights from Copenhagen, Edinburgh or Reykjavik, three nights’ B&B accommodation at Bládýpið Hostel and participation in the marathon.
12. Cycle the Tour
Tour de Force is an annual charity event providing a unique chance to ride multiple stages of the Tour de France (or the full thing) one week ahead of the professionals. The event is a great opportunity for cyclists of all abilities to experience some of the greatest routes and sights in cycling and hosts a range of participants including individuals, couples, cycling clubs and corporate teams. Moreover, this summer sees the 10th anniversary of the first event and it’s set to be better than ever. More info can be found at www.tourdeforce.org.uk.
13. Run Lochness
Want to move on from a half marathon? How about running along the shoreline of Scotland’s most famous loch? The Baxters Loch Ness Marathon (www.lochnessmarathon.com) on Sept 25 is steeped in heritage and history, and is set amongst beautiful rural scenery – perfect for first timers! There’s even a hot meal and entertainment waiting for you at the finish line. Keep an eye out for Nessie…
14. Spring into fitness
Transform your fitness routine with the team at Jump Nation and tap into your inner child as you jump, leap, spring and vault across its 139 interconnecting trampolines, burning up to 580 calories while you’re at it. It has less impact on the joints and works the core muscles of the body harder than a run. Based in Trafford Park, Manchester, Jump Nation, is Europe’s largest indoor trampoline park, offering a range of bounce sessions and evening fitness classes throughout the week. Visit www.jumpnation.co.uk for information. For those in the South, try freejumping at Oxygen Trampoline Park (http://oxygenfreejumping.co.uk) in Acton or Southampton?