The Washington area is host to a variety outdoor events and activities in the spring and summer. From road runs to obstacle races to triathlons to team relays, here are activities sure to keep you active, give your something to train for and leave you with great memories.
The Spring Backyard Burn Trail Running Series: If you’ve never run a trail race before, you’re in for a treat. With diverse scenery and terrain, trickier footing and an inviting culture, trail races are a runner’s dream. And the backyard burn is no exception. There is a series each spring and fall hosted by EX2 Adventures, with a points system culminating in series champions at two race distances: 5 or 10 miles. Located in rotating locations throughout Northern Virginia, the races area quick drive from the District. These races sell out fast, so register early.
The North Face Endurance Challenge: Another trail running series, the North Face Endurance Challenge carries with it a name of distinction and a huge variety of options for race distance, including 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon relay, marathon, 50K and 50 miles. The race, scheduled for April 9-10, leads runners through Algonkian Park, Great Falls Park and the Heritage Trail, as well as a few bonus locations. This is more than just a race, it is a trail running festival. The Challenge offers a rideshare program on its website to promote carpooling to the event.
Reebok Spartan Race D.C.: The ultimate adventure, Spartan race gives you the opportunity to feel like a kid again, as you run, jump, climb and crawl your way through the muddy 5-mile course. But make no mistake, this isn’t a walk in the park. You will be physically tested as you conquer the course with a few moments of frustration but with a huge smile on your face. This is the shortest of the Spartan Race distances, so it’s recommended for all skill levels. Bring a garbage bag to throw your muddy gear in post race and a towel and change of clothes for after your post-race shower.
The Nation’s Triathlon: The Nation’s Tri is one of the premier triathlons in the United States, and it takes place right in our backyard. Offering both Sprint and Olympic distances, the Triathlon is an opportunity for a beginner to wet his or her beak with a first race or for a veteran to test limits. The course loops through the monument corridor, including a swim in the Potomac and a festival area adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial. Your bike must be dropped off at the race site the day before the race, so be sure to prepare for that early.
Ragnar Relay: Cumberland to D.C.: One of the most uniquely formatted events you may encounter, Ragnar can be considered a race or just done as a bonding experience. Running one person at a time, teams of either six or 12 athletes take turns running stretches of a course that covers 190 miles from Cumberland, Md., to Washington. Teammates act as a support system for one another as they rest between runs, providing each other with food and water and driving the vehicle from point to point. Ragnar has developed a cult following due to its format and tendency to create lasting memories. You will need a van for this event and it can last more than 24 hours, so plan accordingly with extra clothes, food and beverages.
These events are simply the tip of the iceberg. The D.C. area is home to an assortment of options for those hungry for a race or challenge. All you need to do is seek them out. There is no better source of inspiration to work out than having an event to prepare for. So pick an event, train with purpose, have some fun and go conquer it.
David Magida is founder of Elevate Interval Fitness, a member of the Reebok Spartan Race Pro Team and author of “The Essentials of Obstacle Racing: A Beginner’s Guide.” You can catch a class with him at Elevate on 14th Street or at its new location in the Mosaic District in Fairfax, Va.