Travel

Sign Up Fast-These Epic Races Always Sell Out

Run or ride the race of a lifetime-If you're able to score a bib.

Run Disney
Run Disney
Run Disney

If you want to compete in any of these races, you’d better be fleet of foot. Or at the very least, you’re going to want to set your alarm. That’s because these bucket list races, which are known for being spectacularly scenic and/or wildly challenging, are known to sell out right away-within hours or even minutes.

Some races, like those in Colorado’s Leadville Race Series, have become so popular in recent years that they have moved to a lottery system to give more people the chance to run. Ryan Cross of Life Time Athletic Events, which manages the Leadville Race Series, says that “demand is so high that we would sell out in seconds if we had a first-come first-served approach.” Other races, like the ones on this list, haven’t moved to a lottery system just yet-so you’re going to need to be ultra-organized and quick with the mouse in order to score a race bib.

We’ve rounded up eight bucket list races that you’re going to want to sign up for as quickly as possible. Trust us, they are worth the hustle.

The Florida Keys & Key West
The Florida Keys & Key West
The Florida Keys & Key West

Seven Mile Bridge Run

Florida Keys, Florida
As you might imagine, more than a few runners are eager to run across the Florida Keys‘ scenic Overseas Highway in the annual Seven Mile Bridge Run. This race attracts some 1,500 runners to run from Big Pine Key to Knights Key, savoring views across the azure waters with every step. The race started in 1982 as a way to celebrate the new Seven Mile Bridge and retire the old one, and has since become an ongoing tradition.

Want to have an edge on registration? Move to Monroe County, Florida. Or, maybe live there now. Residents can snap up a limited number of spots for this race five days before anyone else. A word to the wise, if you try to sign up early and you’re not a Monroe County resident, you will be disqualified with no refund. Just something to keep in mind.

Bare Performance Nutrition
Bare Performance Nutrition
Bare Performance Nutrition

Go One More Marathon

Undisclosed location, Central Texas
The Go One More Marathon is held in April in Central Texas. As in, somewhere in Central Texas. Race organizers identify the race location as an “undisclosed private ranch” that’s a 45-minute shuttle ride from the meet-up location. Runners plunk down $250 to get dropped off-potentially in the middle of nowhere-to run a challenging 26.2-mile course. The race is run without spectators (they’re prohibited, since you can’t share the location), and it’s definitely all the more intriguing for its air of mystery.

It goes without saying that Go One More has become a bucket list race for elite runners eager to be able to say they ran this race. But just 300 runners can nab a spot, and every bib was gone within 10 minutes for the 2023 race. If you want to run in 2024, you’re going to want to sign up as soon as registration opens.
 

Photo courtesy of Denver International Airport
Photo courtesy of Denver International Airport
Photo courtesy of Denver International Airport

Denver 5K on the Runway

Denver, Colorado
In September 2022, 2,500 people ran across the runway of the Denver International Airport. No, they weren’t attempting to catch a flight-they were participating in the Denver 5K on the Runway. Last year, the inaugural event sold out in less than 13 hours and included a post-race celebration at the United Airlines Hangar, which wowed revelers with a United 777 aircraft. This year’s event is sure to sell out quickly, too. One caveat for anyone considering running this race in the future: You need to be fast enough to run the course between the 6 am start time and 7 am, when the airport is scheduled to resume normal operations.

Run Disney
Run Disney
Run Disney

runDisney Races

Various Locations
runDisney is a popular race series that includes everything from 5Ks to marathons, enabling participants to walk or run across Disney theme parks, snapping photos with characters all across the race courses. The super-size medals are pretty sweet, too. Some race weekend events, including the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, offer multi-race challenges so runners can scoop up extra bling.

The runDisney folks won’t share details about how many races sell out and how quickly they sell out, but according to fan site Inside the Magic, which is not affiliated with Disney, all events for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in January 2024 sold out within 90 minutes. That includes the 5K, 10K and half marathon. If you want to run in 2025, you’ll have to be quick with the registration.

yetitrailrunners
yetitrailrunners
yetitrailrunners

Troublesome Hollow 50K

Bristol, Virginia
The Troublesome Hollow 50K in Bristol, Virginia asks runners to put in more miles than a marathon, but ultra runners love to sign up anyway. This year’s event sold all 200 race bibs in just six minutes, according to race organizer Jason Green, who heads up Yeti Trail Runners and organizes more than half a dozen races.

This Appalachian race guides runners alongside winding Abrams Creek, then up to the Mendota Fire Tower at the 18-mile mark. Apart from the hill to the fire tower, the race is fast and flat, and includes scenic stretches across swinging bridges and trestles. While it’s too late to sign up for the 2023 race, you can sign up for other upcoming races with Yeti Trail Runners, including the Dark Anchor race (registration opens in September).

Run Bum
Run Bum
Run Bum

Georgia Death Race

Blairsville, Georgia
It’s called the Georgia Death Race and the tagline is “…you’re gonna die.” Instead of registering for the race, runners click “Prepare your death certificate” to sign up. You might think that would be enough to discourage runners from attempting the 74-mile trail run through the mountains of North Georgia, but you’d be wrong.

The race has sold out 11 years in a row, in as little as 20 minutes. Never mind the 16,000-foot elevation gain (and corresponding 16,000-foot descent), or the fact that runners are required to carry a one pound railroad spike the entire 74 miles-people are just dying to sign up. Only 60% of runners finish this race and receive an engraved spike to mark completion; if you’re brave, you can attempt to be one of these victorious few.

Vermont 50 Mountain Bike or Ultra Run
Vermont 50 Mountain Bike or Ultra Run
Vermont 50 Mountain Bike or Ultra Run

Vermont 50 Mountain Bike Race

West Windsor, Vermont
The Vermont 50 mountain bike race (which can also be attempted on foot as an ultra run) typically sells out in seven to 10 minutes, according to race director Michael Silverman. This year marks the race’s 30th anniversary, and the expectation is that the race will sell out in less than five minutes, much like the 2021 event. That’s right, all bibs gone in less than five minutes.

The annual 50-mile bike race is held during the last weekend in September at Mount Ascutney in West Windsor, Vermont, and only 725 riders can compete. If you want to ensure you’re one of them, there’s a way to register early; you just have to raise $500 for the race’s charity, Vermont Adaptive.

Photo by Sawtooth Photo Bros Boise Idaho, courtesy of Race to Robie Creek
Photo by Sawtooth Photo Bros Boise Idaho, courtesy of Race to Robie Creek
Photo by Sawtooth Photo Bros Boise Idaho, courtesy of Race to Robie Creek

Race to Robie Creek

Boise, Idaho
The Race to Robie Creek, a half marathon in Boise, Idaho, sold out in 13 minutes in 2019, according to race organizers. Due to COVID restrictions, the race hasn’t occurred since, but all systems are go in 2023 for this spring race. More than 2,300 runners are signed up and ready to lace up for this scenic, if challenging, half marathon.

This year, it took three days to fill all the spots, but once word spreads that the race is back on in earnest, this race is expected to again sell out at a record pace. The Race to Robie Creek has been dubbed the “toughest race in the Northwest to run,” perhaps because of a 2,000-foot elevation climb in the first 8.5 miles. Naturally it attracts more than a few runners up for a challenge; be swift with the signup for 2024.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTikTokTwitterFacebookPinterest, and YouTube.

Erin Gifford is a contributor for Thrillist.

Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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