Spring Hill, Scottish Highlands, Polar Dash, Skidaway Island + Christmas in Kentucky

5 races in some interesting (and beautiful) places

Christmas in Kentucky Half Marathon

Harrodsburg, Ky. | Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020

Set for its inaugural running here in this central Kentucky city of 8,000 souls that bills itself as “the birthplace of the West,” this race starts and finishes at the Show Barn at Daynabrook Farm (pictured above), surrounded by cropland and located about 45 minutes from Lexington. From there, you’ll follow a loop route along paved country roads through rolling farm fields in what’s known as bluegrass country — the race also offers a 4-miler and virtual options for both distances.

$70 and up | Sign up here

Spring Hill Marathon Mania

Spring Hill, Fla. | Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021

“The course is open to mother nature, but closed entirely to motor vehicles,” organizers say about this race along the Suncoast Trail, a 42-mile-long paved trail that parallels the Suncoast Parkway through rivers, wetlands, wildlife and the 8,000-acre J.B. Starkey Park near New Port Richey, just north of Tampa. Starting from the Anderson Snow Sports Complex outside Spring Hill, the course heads south along the trail toward Tampa, along an almost completely flat trail the entire way.

$65 and up | Sign up here

Twin Cities Polar Dash Half Marathon

St. Paul, Minn. | Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021

Bundle up for this New Year’s race, held on a day when St. Paul averages between 8 and 24 degrees Fahrenheit (and be prepared for plenty of snow on the ground!). From the starting line at the city’s Harriet Island Park, the course unfolds almost entirely along the river as you run through parts of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. The long, out-and-back route hugs the riverbanks for nearly the entire route, save for a loop in the first mile and again around the half-way point (you’ll run the out-and-back route twice before crossing the finish line back at the park).

$70.99 and up | Sign up here

Skidaway Island Half Marathon

Skidaway Island, Ga. | Saturday, March 13, 2021

Located just over a 20-minute drive from downtown Savannah, this island that’s home to the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and Wormsloe Plantation, whose live oaks draped in Spanish moss frame a state historic site that was built in the early 1700s, Skidaway Island plays host to what is undoubtedly one of the flattest races you’ll find. There’s almost no elevation change throughout the out-and-back course, which starts along the banks of the Skidaway River near the north end of the island, and runs all the way into the high-end residential community known as The Landings, before heading back along the river to the finish line.

$65 and up | Sign up here

Inverness Half Marathon

Inverness, Scotland, U.K. | Sunday, May 16, 2021

Run through the largest city in the Scottish Highlands at this springtime race, known for its majestic 19th-century castles as well as for being the home of the Gaelic king Mac Bethad Mac Findláich, later immortalized in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. You’ll run long stretches of the race through the city along the River Ness, which flows from nearby Loch Ness, starting along the riverside at Bught Park. From there, you’ll run past Inverness Castle on the way into more rural areas just outside the city, before later returning back into Inverness on your way to the finish line at Queen’s Park Stadium.

£37 and up | Sign up here

Great running reads

How Japanese People Stay Fit for Life, Without Ever Visiting a Gym. I’m not sure I can tee this eye-opening article up better than this: “In a recent Rakuten Insight survey of 1000 Japanese citizens ages 20 to their 60s, about half of those questioned revealed that they barely exercised, about once a month or not at all. Citing not enough time or simply that they don’t like exercising that much, most people just didn’t see working out as part of their lifestyle. What’s going on here?”

“What the results show is not that exercise isn’t important to be healthy, but that in Japan’s approach to moving, perhaps most don’t see it as exercise.”

Why Well-Trained Runners Lose Fitness the Quickest. A helpful guide on how to expect your body to react when you take time off from training — which, of course, we all do.

“The best in the world still take an annual break and purposely lose some fitness — taking time off and de-training is actually key to making long-term gains. And as the research shows, if your break is only a few weeks long, the return to your previous fitness shouldn’t take that long, either.”

On Deliberative Sports. A thought-provoking read on the difference between long-distance running and most other sports. As the author Sabrina Little, a professor at Morehead State University who also has run for Team USA, writes: “I dare you to compete in a marathon and not spend a significant amount of time wondering about future miles, revising fueling and pacing plans, and replaying every single conversation that you have ever had with anyone over the past decade.”

“There is a lot of time to think — about the run and about everything else.”

Build Mental Endurance Like a Pro. I remember hearing once that both kids and dogs need routine. It comforts them, and makes it possible to get through each day mentally at peace. Adults aren’t much different, to be honest, as this interesting look at how some of the world’s top endurance athletes approach their amazing feats shows: it’s all about pacing yourself, setting small (even micro) goals, and focusing on something new.

“One message they all had: You are stronger than you think you are, and everyone is able to adapt in ways they didn’t think possible.”

A song to run to today

Okay, so maybe this isn’t the most pump-you-up song to run to 😃 It’s still pretty amazing, though. Give it a listen — it’ll lift your spirits.

(Here’s the original version by Bob Marley, and the audio recording of the video above.)