You already know that signing up for a run or tri is a fantastic motivator to get fit. But sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to register when a lot of the best races sell out faster than you can tie your shoelaces, like the 2013 Ironman Arizona, which filled up in 40 seconds.
“The most important thing is to make sure that you put a reminder in your calendar when your target race opens for registration,” says Kristin Carroll, vice president of corporate and consumer marketing for the San Diego-based ACTIVE Network, which handled more than 80 million transactions for 50,000 international race/event organizers last year. She also recommends creating an ACTIVE.com account early so that you're already logged into the system, which will save you precious time on registration day.
Another way in is through the volunteer avenue, as not all pro-bono gigs will sideline you on race day. A volunteer bike marshal, for example, can participate in the 30-, 50-, or 100-mile ride but may need to stop to help fix a flat or two along the way. And sometimes volunteering gets you preferential treatment during registration next year, Carroll adds.
Check out Carroll's sweatastic short list of this year's best-sellers that will open for registration (or take place) very soon:
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If You're Looking for a Cardio Party
Mob races, as ACTIVE calls them, are the “it” races everyone's talking about. “Mob stands for mud, obstacle, bash, or beer, depending on what you came for,” Carroll says. “These races appeal to people who aren't traditional runners but are looking to go out and have an awesome time."
In 2012 the Color Run series saw more than 600,000 participants get bombed with colorful cornstarch as they ran the self-dubbed “happiest 5K." This year the series is coming to more than 100 U.S. cities with the most popular race days just around the corner: Los Angeles (February 2), Mardi Gras (February 9), Las Vegas (February 16), and Columbia, SC (March 2).
Along the same hue-can-do-it lines is the Electric Run. The new nighttime, neon 5K set to electronic dance music invites participants (10,000 showed up at the inaugural run hosted by Carmen Electra in L.A. last year!) to light up the course with brilliant accessories. Registration for the glow-fest in Atlanta, Houston, and Sacramento opens January 31. Or get your shine on sooner at the San Diego run on February 2 (it's 95-percent sold out).
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If You're Looking for a Challenge
While the Spartan Race series would technically fall under the Mob category, most people would hardly describe its tough courses—ranging from 3 miles and 15-plus obstacles to 12 miles and 25 obstacles (including getting beat with a padded stick)—a “party.” Even though it's open to 15,000 participants, the highly-competitive, timed race sells out quickly, especially the New England Sprint (register February 10), Vermont Beast (register March 21), and SoCal Sprint (register March 15).
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If You're Looking for Prestige
Calling yourself an “Ironman” is as brag-worthy as it gets. If you think the course sounds impossible, wait till you hear about registration: All Ironman events are such hot tickets that they fill up within 24 hours of going live. Past participants always get first dibs, followed by anyone who registers in-person on-site, Carroll says. “Last fall, 18 ACTIVE employees drove to Arizona to register for Ironman Arizona. They all got in while people back at the office, who tried to register online, didn't," she says.
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If You're Looking for a Mini-Getaway
An even better incentive to get your rear in gear is to pick a course that's located in one of the country’s most beautiful (or coolest) places to spend a weekend or longer. This way you can turn your fitness triumph into an instant vacay—now that's a reward worth training for! Some stunning favorites that open registration soon are the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic (register February 5), Beach-to-Beach St. John’s Power Swim (register February 1), Honolulu Marathon (register in April), and Marine Corps Half/Full Marathon (register March 27).