5 Fun and Wacky Summer Races

Summer is a great time to get outdoors and have some fun. There are a lot of great races during the summer. Below we’ve picked five stand-outs this year based on user feedback. If you know of any other crazy summer races please tell us about them in the comments below.

5 Fun and Wacky Summer Races

The 20th Annual Bare Buns Fun Run in Tiger Mountain, WA

The annual Bare Buns Fun Run, now on its 20th year, takes place on July 10th. It is a race for those who like to bare it all. And by bare it all, we mean ALL! Officially this is a “clothing optional” race which means you may wear clothing if you choose. But most of the race officials and participants will be nude so consider yourself warned. The race takes you through beautiful Tiger Mountain. The course has some unpaved portions with a mix of cross country, uphill and downhill. After the race, you can swim in the pool with your fellow nudists while waiting for the winners to be announced.

Dances with Dirt in Hell, MI

This event takes place in Hell… Hell, Michigan that is. The race is planned for September 24th and consists of an ultra-marathon and a five man team relay event. Runners should be ready to have their running gear torn and soiled, hence the name Dances with Dirt. In the five man team relay each member runs a total of 12 miles (3 legs x 4 miles per leg). The extreme course is a challenge and consists of course segments aptly named, such as: “This Sucks!”, “Where’s the F’N” Bridge”, and “The Stupid Lake”. The relay course has become legendary; however, the ultra-marathon is far worse. It is 50 miles of hiking and mud-diving, not for the faint of heart!

Diva’s Half Marathon in Vail, CO

The Diva’s Half Marathon is set for August 21st in Vail, CO. This one is for the ladies! Runners dress up in tiaras and boas and strut their stuff on the 13.1 mile catwalk. Finishers get a Diva medal that includes room for a personal picture. At the finish line, runners are greeted by a young gentleman that presents the finishers with a medal and offers them a toast. There is a party (fit for a diva) after the race to celebrate the achievement.

Santa’s Summer 5K & Elf Walk in Piketon, OH

Celebrate Christmas in the summer?!? Santa’s Summer 5K and Elf Walk in Piketon, OH, takes place on August 20th. The course for the race is a flat and fast road with minimal traffic. Christmas-themed decorations and free snow cones are available for the all the runners and their families. Of course, what’s a Santa run without Santa? So racers are encouraged to wear their best Santa costume and awards are given for those in the getups. Proceeds from the race are used to buy gifts for needy children during the holiday season.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in Anaheim, CA

The Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend takes place September 2nd through the 4th. Dubbed The Happiest Race on Earth, this half marathon takes you through the famous Disney theme park. Run through Sleeping Beauty’s castle and along the way high-five one of your favorite Disney Characters. The course goes through both Disneyland and California Adventure. This race gets a lot of great reviews from runners each year and is fun for the whole family.

Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi | Flow

Flow | Dr. Csikszentmihalyi

Flow is a common word in the vernacular of anyone studying positive psychology. Intuitively most people get the general concept. A good working definition is having the feeling of fusion with an on-going activity, effortlessly and fluidly (offered by Dr. Bloch in her article Flow: Beyond Fluidity and Rigidity. A Phenomenological Investigation). Most people believe they have an abundance of Flow in their life when in reality it is a fairly difficult state to obtain. We get in our own way with regards to Flow simply because most feel the need to be in complete command of a situation.

The Godfather of Flow, Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, defined flow in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience as the “experience of optimal fulfillment and engagement,” and “a deep and uniquely human motivation to excel, exceed, and triumph over limitation” in anything we love doing.

Dr. Csikszentmihalyi stumbled upon Flow in his youth. As a child growing up in Hungary Mihaly saw how many in Hungarian society were affected by war, many devastated because of the loss of their social status and/or finances. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi wanted to avoid the perils of this negativity and see if he could find meaning outside the confines of what was happening around him. In his own words, he wanted to, “live life as a work of art, rather than as a chaotic response to external events.”

He was intrigued and studied why some people did not lose their sense of self during this time, even after losing everything, where as others were devastated and were not able to reclaim their sense of worth. He discovered that people found pleasure in very profoundly different ways. As Csikszentmihalyi matured he continued to be fascinated by this and conducted hundreds of interviews with people from different walks of life including athletes, artists and CEOs to discover what compelled their passions.

He continued to find people define this state very differently but discovered a common theme, that people that really enjoy internal pleasures described enjoying those pleases like being in a trance. He began to develop a concept of Flow, that of being an extremely productive and fulfilling state where one forgets about their self and is extremely focused at the task at hand.

He observed that people experiencing flow do not notice fear, they do not really keep a mental record of what they are doing and actions are instinctual. That is not to say that you can find Flow in routine tasks, on the contrary the mundane has been shown to hinder flow because the lack of challenge does not provide the right stimulus.

So what does Flow mean (in the mind of Dr. Csikszentmihalyi):

  1. Concentration – being completely involved and focused
  2. Elation
  3. Inner clarity – clearly seeing tasks and executing them flawlessly
  4. Confidence
  5. Serenity – complete self-trust and lack of fear
  6. Timeliness – absorbed in the Now
  7. Intrinsic motivation – doing for the sake of doing

As I previously discussed achieving flow cannot be found in the mundane, Dr. Csikszentmihalyi believes there needs to be balance between skill and challenge. It is the sweet spot between arousal and control. Too much arousal and you might get anxious about the outcome, too much familiarity and control and boredom may get the best of you. Find the balance between the two and you are able to fully engage yourself in a desirable state.

Nutrition Tips for Swimmers

With an ever increasing population of running and cycling enthusiasts, good advice for swimmers is getting harder to come by. Luckily, the same carbo-loading scenarios that are appropriate for other distance sports are suitable for distance swimmers too.

Swim Nutrition

The Basics: Endurance athletes need to increase their access to available fuel. During event training the prevailing wisdom is that an endurance swimmer should get about ~60 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates with an increase to ~85 percent three weeks prior to race day. If this protocol is followed, an athlete can expect to increase muscle glycogen stores by ~35 percent, which will allow you to swim longer before fatigue sets in.

Another good practice is to make sure to eat a pre-swim meal. This will protect you against low blood sugar by restocking your liver with one hundred grams of carbohydrates. By eating a pre-swim meal you maintain your blood sugar levels which will help improve your energy prior to your swim start.

Avoid complex and fibrous carbohydrates. This might seem counter intuitive but the last thing you want to think about on a long swim is clearing your bowels (you can read about my Ironman New Zealand race here, if you need a real world example). Instead include ~25 grams of protein and/or ~ 20grams of fat along with ~125 grams of carbohydrates two hours before the swim. This will help control your hunger and stabilize your blood sugar levels.

After one hour of moderate-to-intense swimming, blood sugars will result in fatigue and increase your risk of shivering and hypothermia – all of which can have a profound negative impact on performance. In an Ironman you will need to tough it out, but longer swimming distances of 10K and beyond generally take the trained swimmer two or more hours to complete. As such, feed zones are generally provided where coaches and support crews can help mediate calorie and fluid intake off of a floating pontoon, dock, pier, or anchored boat (for swims longer than 25K a team and escort boat are usually provided).

It is estimated that swimmers racing at moderate to high intensity will expend ~.065 calories per pound per minute, or on average 500 to 700 calories per hour. You will not be able to replace all of these calories during the race, but if possible take in approximately 150 to 200 calories via carbohydrate liquids or gels along with small amounts of protein and fat, as well as some solid food if the race is extremely long.

In cases where aid stations are few and far between, or escort boats are not allowed, athletes may need to stuff gels into their suits (allowing two per hour in case a feeding is missed or one is lost during swimming). The gel packs should be prepared pre-swim by cutting a small incision to allow for easier access during the race. An alternative is to place several gels into a four-ounce gel flask, diluted down with water to allow for ease of exit, and stuff the flask into the suit or a pocket in the suit.

Sweat rates for swimmers average around 125 milliliters (four ounces) per kilometer swum; which means that during a 10K event, about 40 ounces of fluid (including a total of 500-1000 milligrams of electrolytes, specifically sodium) is generally needed.

Special Note: As is with all endurance training, it is vital that you practice with any aids you plan to use on race day, as well as what you will do on race day, which can be broken down as follows:

1. Seek & Spot: Swimmers spot their coaches at the feeding station
2. Reach & Roll: Swimmers grab cups or bottles from coach/feeding stick and roll onto their backs to initiate feeding.
3. Gulp & Go: Swimmers swallow their nutrition quickly and continue swimming within two to three strokes.
4. Toss & Turn: Swimmers toss their cups/bottles and sight before turning over to continue swimming.

This post was adapted by an old article from Kim Mueller, a Registered Dietitian & Exercise Physiologist who owns Fuel Factor Nutrition ( Karen has helped many athletes nutritionally prepare for swims, including English Channel swimmers.