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Even though they have been around for a while now, I really only became aware of “challenge” based bonus medals in the past year or two. In case there are any of you out there who have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, here it is in a nutshell. Many races have evolved into “race weekends” or even “race weeks”. While the majority of events with multiple options for distances, etc still occur on the same day, more and more runners want the opportunity to run multiple distances. When people compete in multiple races – say a 5km on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday, for example – they receive medals for each race as well as a special “bonus” medal for having done both races.

The most famous examples of these bonus medal opportunities are the Disney events. The Goofy Challenge (a half marathon one day, a full marathon the next), the Dumbo Double Dare (a 10k followed by a half marathon) and the Dopey Challenge (a 5, 10, half and full on four consecutive days – see above for the medal haul from 2014) are just three of the challenges that Disney Running have created, with more themed challenges popping up every year.

Local races are no exception, with the Cross Border Challenge in Amherst offering a bonus medal last year to runners who competed in a Friday night 5km event followed by a 10km or half marathon on Saturday morning. There is also the famous Maritime Race Weekend in Eastern Passage, NS which offers a “Tartan Twosome” which entails a Friday night 5 km race, followed by a 5km, 10km, half or full marathon on Saturday.

Another twist on this trend is for different races to collaborate and offer bonus medals to runners who participate in any distance at separate events. In the Maritimes this year, two such challenges have been created – the New Brunswick Challenge and the Maritime Challenge. In the New Brunswick Challenge, runners who compete in any distance at the Fredericton Marathon, Miramichi Rock n Run, Marathon by the Sea and Legs for Literacy get an extra medal. For the Maritime Challenge, runners who compete in any distance at the Bluenose Marathon, Marathon by the Sea and the PEI Marathon get an extra medal. If you are inspired enough to complete BOTH challenges, Atlantic Chip actually has a third bonus medal for the Ultimate Challenge. As you can see below – nice medals to be sure.

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I’ve actually never done any challenge races and I’m still not sure how I feel about them which is the main reason I figured I should write about them. Anything that encourages people to get active obviously has some positive things going for it. Also, a themed weekend such as Maritime Race Weekend is unique and exposes many people to an area of Nova Scotia that they may otherwise never explore.

On the flip side, I have heard many people discuss the cost of completing challenges and whether or not it is simply a way for some races to get even more money out of runners. Obviously running in a single Disney race (for example) is expensive by comparison to regular races, but there is more to the experience as well.

A bigger question for me is the health risks for people competing some of these challenges. Depending on your goals, experience and injury history, racing more frequently can be beneficial. However, every runner knows someone who frequently overdoes it in training or racing and ends up sidelined for far too long. One of the hardest thing for many of us is to line up on race day and not give it our all. I’m certainly guilty of signing up “just for fun” and going much harder than I should have on a particular day. It’s the stubbornness, ego and pride that many of us have that lead to injuries that are in many cases completely avoidable.

What are your thoughts on racing challenges? Have you done any before and, if so, what was your experience like? I’d love for you to share your opinions and experiences! Post below and share your thoughts!

Happy running!

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