Cycle the streets of Kuala Lumpur, trek across the Himalayas or paddleboard the periphery of Manhattan Island. There are some awe-inspiring fitness events around the world to challenge you and we’ve listed some of the best.
Where: New York City
What: A 40km paddleboard around Manhatten to raise money for charity
Here’s something for anyone looking for a different kind of fitness challenge: Sea Paddle NYC. Participants complete a 40km route around Manhattan on a stand-up paddleboard, and while it might not be strenuous in the same way a marathon is, it is undeniably demanding. Tackle summer heat, cold water and swell from passing boats, while enjoying a cheerful sense of camaraderie and team spirit – not to mention unparalleled views of the Big Apple. If you don’t happen to live by the sea, time on the rower and simple core strength work are great ways to train for an activity like this.
Where: Victoria, Australia
What: 1.2km open-water swim
There’s no denying the joy of swimming outdoors, with nothing around you but beach and open water. Now in its 36th year, the Lorne Pier to Pub, sponsored by GMHBA Health Insurance, is a race organised and run by volunteers from the Lorne Surf Life Saving Club (LSLS) and attracts 4,000 swimmers annually. Competitors complete a 1.2km swim from the Lorne Pier to the shore in front of the LSLS clubhouse – the ‘pub’. The fastest race time recorded was 10 minutes and 30 seconds, but with an average swim time of 22 minutes, this is a fun race suitable for swimmers of most levels.
Where: Médoc, France
What: A marathon combining the best of fitness, fine wine and French food
We all deserve a treat after a good workout, but it’s rare that you’d let yourself enjoy a tipple during exercise, right? Winding its way through dozens of vineyards in France’s Médoc region, Le Médoc is a marathon that’s both physically demanding and luxuriously indulgent. Competitors are expected to run a marathon-standard 26.2 miles; what makes this one of the most unique events in any runner’s calendar is the quantity of wine and cheese that they are also expected to enjoy along the course. Runners sample 23 glasses of vin as well as local specialities including oysters and foie gras. Described as ‘the most fun you can have running a marathon’, Le Médoc’s light-hearted vibe and friendly atmosphere with local bands entertaining the crowds along the route probably isn’t the right time to aim for a PB.
Where: The Himalayas
When: Dates vary
What: A 4,583km trail over and through the Himalayan mountains
This network of tracks across the Himalayas stretches across several countries including Bhutan, India, Pakistan and Tibet, with the most popular part of the trail running through Nepal, where you’ll see eight of the world’s 14 peaks that exceed 8,000m including Everest. Depending on your fitness level, time constraints and preferences, it’s possible to trek, run or cycle along as much of the trail as you wish. The higher route involves some mountaineering through spectacular scenery, while the lower route, which can be self-guided, allows trekkers to experience life in Himalayan villages, walking between local communities. As the route can be personalised to suit individual and group needs, it’s suitable for enthusiastic beginners through to expert climbers, and even those with the most basic fitness levels will be able to complete one of the shorter, less challenging routes.
When: Dates varyW
hat: An exceptionally colourful 5km run
With a unique concept and cheerful atmosphere, colour runs were an immediate hit with the running community. There are now several to choose from, including The Colour Run, Colour Me Rad and other local versions, taking place in countries all over the world. Participants start the race dressed head to toe in white, and finish covered in brightly coloured powders. This is definitely one for runners of all abilities as there are usually no winners or official times, and with music playing along the route, as well as clouds of different colours thrown at runners every kilometre, you might not want to finish too quickly!
Where: United Kingdom
When: Dates vary
What: Climb Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis in 24 hours
The National Three Peaks Challenge is one of the best ways to take in the beauty of the British countryside with friends or family, while also testing yourself physically and mentally. The challenge involves climbing three mountains in 24 hours, including the time it takes to travel between the peaks. There is plenty of flexibility, including the option of a more relaxed trip in which you do the climbs over three days. Solo climbers can join one of the open challenges, walking with other small groups and individuals, while groups with four or more people can organise the trip themselves for any dates that suit. Any cardio exercise will be good preparation for this event, even if it’s something as simple as walking on the treadmill at an incline. Working your calf and thigh muscles will help prepare you for steeper parts of the climb.
What: A weekend of cycling in one of the most exciting cities in Asia
Now in its fourth year, Cycle Asia Kuala Lumpur combines the best of a beautiful city, enthusiastic team spirit and enjoyable exercise to create a fun event that’s going from strength to strength. Best of all, the city’s roads are closed throughout the weekend, meaning participants can sit back (or lean forward) and enjoy the cycle, without worrying about surrounding traffic. With three events for kids under 12 years old, and a non-competitive community ride for anyone aged 12 and above, this really is one for the whole family. The 100m/150m tricycle rides for children aged between 2 and 5 are a sight to behold, as little ones take to the streets of KL in their dozens, while more serious cyclists might opt for the 48km challenge, open to experienced riders aged 14 and above.