Giving yourself a reason to train just might be what you need to maintain that new year exercise motivation for more than a just a few weeks.
There are plenty of great events worth training for this year. Here are some dates to circle:
March 15: Rainier backcountry registration. Mount Rainier National Park is Washington’s coolest gym. Each year thousands challenge themselves by trying to climb to the 14,411-foot summit, hundreds hike the 93-mile Wonderland Trail and many more find other adventures. But if you’re getting off the beaten path this summer for more than a day, you’ll need a permit. The park starts accepting backcountry permit applications March 15. Get your request in before April 1 if you plan to do the Wonderland Trail. Local guide services Alpine Ascents, International Mountain Guides and Rainier Mountaineering Inc. are already accepting reservations for climbs on Rainier and around the world. nps.gov/mora
May 5: Tacoma City Marathon. The Tacoma City Marathon is more than just a 26.2-mile challenge. If you think that’s too far, half marathon and 5-kilometer races are held simultaneously in an effort to appeal to a wider range of runners. tacomacitymarathon.com
May 18: Ash Kicker. Mud runs are all the rage right now. These adventure races are spiced up with nets and walls to climb, muddy bogs to navigate and other obstacles. Loads of fun, but considerably more challenging to more parts of your body than a traditional fun run. Ash Kicker, staged annually in the shadow of Mount St. Helens at the Toutle River RV Resort, is described by its organizers as a “5K adventure run with extreme obstacles.” Proceeds from Ash Kicker go to the North County Recreation Association and a grant program for community projects and programs. The event has raised almost $410,000 since 2011. ashkicker.org
May 19: Capital City Marathon. Olympia’s Capital City Marathon is a popular running tour of Olympia. In addition to the marathon distance, runners can participate in the half marathon or the five-mile run. capitalcitymarathon.org
May 27: Ski to Sea. This celebrated multi-sport race dates back to 1973. The race pits up to 500 teams of eight against each other in a seven-leg race that covers more than 90 miles. The race starts with cross-country skiing and is followed by alpine skiing or snowboarding, running, road biking, canoeing and mountain biking before finishing with a sea kayaking leg. skitosea.com
June 1: Rainier to Ruston Relay. It’s mostly downhill from Mount Rainier National Park’s Carbon River entrance to the Tacoma waterfront, but it’s also 50.8 miles. The Rainier to Ruston Relay challenges runners to cover the entire distance in one day. Runners can participate by themselves or with teams of two, three, four or six runners. rainiertoruston.com
June 8: Sound to Narrows. The South Sound’s most popular road race turns 41 this year. The course is 12 kilometers and famous for its notoriously challenging hills in and around Point Defiance Park. Almost every step of the final mile is uphill. soundtonarrows.com
July 13-14: Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. A bucket list items for recreational cyclists and non-cyclists alike, the STP draws participants from around the world. Some choose to crank out the ride in one day, but most take two days for the 200-mile ride from the University of Washington to Portland’s Holladay Park. cascade.org
June 21: Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens. If you always wanted to try a long distance triathlon but an Ironman race seems a little (or a lot) absurd, a half Ironman might be more realistic. The annual Lake Stevens Ironman 70.3 starts with a 1.2-mile swim followed by 56-miles on a bike then finishes with a half marathon (13.1 miles). Easier than Ironman? For sure. Easy? Not even close. ironman.com
June 22: Rock ’n’ Roll Seattle. The Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon Series has become wildly popular among recreational runners for offering events that are more like 26.2-mile parties than races. While they are, indeed, races and they are still challenging, the courses are lined with live bands making it a little easier to distract yourself from the pain. runrocknroll.com/seattle
July 25: RAMROD. Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day is one of Washington’s most challenging organized bicycle rides. It is the only organized ride in Mount Rainier National Park. The ride starts and ends in Enumclaw and makes a 152-mile loop that climbs 10,000 feet around the mountain. As challenging as the ride is, getting in might be harder. The ride is limited to 800 participants and the waiting list often exceeds 300. A lottery is held in March to determine the field. redmondcyclingclub.org
July 27: Olympia Traverse. The Olympia Traverse is a multi-sport race that can be taken on alone or with teams as large as four people. The event includes a 7.4-mile mountain bike ride in Capitol State Forest, a 22-mile road ride from the forest to downtown Olympia, a 31/2-mile paddle around Budd Inlet, a 41/2-mile run from Swantown Boatworks to Priest Point Park and back and a half mile team trek to the finish at Port Plaza. olympiatraverse.com
Oct. 5-6: Tough Mudder. This is a challenging obstacle race of 10-12 miles over obstacles that race organizers say were designed by British Special Forces. There is mud, there is barbed wire, there is water, there is rope climbing and there is more mud. Events are scheduled in seven countries this year and the only race in Washington is scheduled for Black Diamond. toughmudder.comCraig Hill’s fitness column runs Sundays. Submit questions and comments via email@example.com and twitter.com/AdventureGuys. Also get more fitness coverage at blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure and thenewstribune.com/fitness.