The Outside Blog

Adventure : Running

Where's Waldo?

After starring in countless illustrated kids books for 25 years, world-famous adventurer Waldo ditched his signature striped shirt-cap combo, got LASIK surgery and fled from the public eye. Last we heard, he was living in his native England (where he’s known as Wally) and working on a brooding memoir titled, Found Then Lost: How Aimlessly Wandering the Earth While Wearing the Same Weird Outfit Each Day Messed Me Up Pretty Good. Please respect his privacy and don’t go hunting for him. But not to worry, superfans—the ex-peripatetic lives on at Waldo-themed events around the world, including the following fun runs, bar crawls, and scavenger hunts. So don your red and white stripes and oval specs and channel your inner nomad.

Where’s Wally? Fun Run, Birmingham, England

{%{"image":"http://media.outsideonline.com/images/where's-waldo-fun-run-englands_fe.jpg","caption":"For the English participants of the fun run, it's not Waldo they are searching for, it's Wally."}%}

Organized by The National Literary Trust, a non-profit dedicated to raising literacy levels in the U.K., this annual fund-raiser invites participants to dress up like Waldo and run 5 or 10 kilometers through beautiful Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham.
Saturday, October 4, 2014; Registration includes a Where’s Wally? costume.

Waldo 100K, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

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This ultramarathon takes place each year in and around Willamette Pass Ski Area in western Oregon and is actually named for a lake that runners pass during the grueling race. But participants have been known to dress up like Waldo, and one year someone nailed a plush Waldo doll to the Fuji Mountain Trail sign that sits on part of the course. Plus, we like to think that in a different life, Waldo would have crushed an ultra. 
August 16, 2014.

Where’s Waldo? Bar Crawl, Charlotte, North Carolina

{%{"image":"http://media.outsideonline.com/images/pub-crawl-north-carolina-wheres-waldo_fe.jpg","caption":"Bargoers in North Carolina know there is no better way to celebrate locating Waldo than with a beer."}%}

No fictional character (not even Santa) is immune to the themed bar crawl, and this one is the mother of all Waldo pub hops, occurring each January at the Epicentre mall in downtown Charlotte. Though it draws hundreds of bespectacled revelers, it has yet to break the Guinness World Record for the most people dressed as Waldo in one place, set in 2011 when 3,872 Waldos gathered in the streets of Dublin in 2011.

Waldo NYC Explorer Pass, New York City

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Heading to Gotham with the kids this summer? Nab this pass, which gives holders discounted access to sites Waldo himself would love to explore around the city, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Empire State Building.

Other Waldo-themed events:

Where’s Waldo Scavenger Hunt; Raleigh, North Carolina; July 2014

Waldo Month; Bethel, Connecticut; July 2014

Waldo Waldo 5K charity run; Colorado Springs, Colorado; October 26, 2014

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Summer Camps for Grownups

You've styled your child with an enviable lineup of outdoor camps, slotted in some action-packed adventure festivals for the whole family. Now Mama (or Papa) needs a little solo play time. Fortunately it doesn't take much to recharge. All you need for DIY adventure is 36 hours and a multisport destination a couple hours' drive from home. Or let someone else do the planning and sign on with one of summer's best new guided retreats guaranteed to recapture the sweet freedom you took for granted before the kids came along. Sign up now for mid- to late-summer adventures, and you'll still have the time—and a fresh surge of energy—to pull off that family camping trip and set your little ones loose on spontaneous backyard adventures before school's back in session.

 

Run Wild Retreats

July 17-20; Aspen, Colorado
If you shy away from Strava, hate wearing a heart-rate-monitor, and just want to run well and feel great doing it, then this four-day holistic trail running retreat in the wilderness outside of Aspen is for you. Blending mindfulness practice, yoga for runners, and plant-based nutrition, the camp—led by running and health coach Elinor Fish—is a stellar primer on how to run mindfully for maximum health, for life. With daily guided trail runs ranging from four to 12 miles (no prior trail experience is necessary), cooking demos on how to fuel and recover with whole foods, yoga classes, and gait assessment, you'll come away with a new vision for how running smarter can increase your energy and reduce your stress, and feel good every time. $697; two-day mini retreat, $397.

 

 

River Rites

 

September 15-20; Cataract Canyon, Utah
Wilderness travel is transformative, but sometimes the epiphanies you have in the backcountry lose their focus as soon you get home. This six-day raft trip through Cataract Canyon, in Canyonlands National Park, is intended to be a modern-day rite of passage to help renew your sense of purpose, empower you to action in the world, release you from stagnation and make lasting change—for both the planet and also yourself.

"Traditional wilderness rites of passage were designed to knit together generations and to prepare for transitions in life," explains Stacy Peterson, a yoga instructor and hypnotherapist, who is co-leading the trip with an eco-psychologist and a climate justice activist. "Because we don't have these opportunities to mark transitions in our lives, we no longer take the time to slow down, deeply reflect, and reset the course of where we want to go."

The expedition through one of West's most stunning, and remote—and imperiled—river corridors incorporates daily yoga and meditation practice, cleansing food, as well as that most rare and restorative perk of all: silence. Out of range from cell phones and schedules, you'll hike into the iconic sandstone spires of the Doll House, in the remote Maze district of the park, and splash down Cataract's Class IV rapids, pulling out of your own busy life and immersing yourself deep into your own true nature. $1199.

 

Rio Chama Photo Workshop

August 22-26; Rio Chama, New Mexico
Ever wish you could take better photographs while in the backcountry? This five-day raft and photo expedition on the Rio Chama in northern New Mexico offers an intensive dose of both photography instruction and wilderness immersion. Led by The Santa Fe Photographic Workshops—widely regarded as the best in the country, now in its 25th year—the trip launches with a three-day, 33-mile float down the Wild & Scenic Rio Chama, the old stomping grounds of Georgia O'Keefe, Ansel Adams, and Elliot Porter. Under the tutelage of veteran lensman Tony Bonanno (and boatmen from New Mexico River Expeditions) you'll spend your days floating the Class II-III rapids, hiking to hot springs and slot canyons, and photographing the thousand-foot sandstone walls, the meandering high desert river, and the stately ponderosa that line the banks. Back at the Workshop's lab in Santa Fe for the final two days, learn the ins and outs of digital processing and printing on Adobe. You'll be all but guaranteed to come home with stellar expedition photos and the know-how to capture your next trip with equal aplomb. $995.

 

 

Make Friends with Fear Workshop

August 1-3; Hammondsport, New York
Former pro skier and Zen therapist Kristen Ulmer has been running Ski to Live camps each winter in Alta, Utah, and around the West for years. What she's discovered in her experience with mindset coaching is that "whether we realize it or not, fear runs everybody's life, even if you don't feel afraid." This three-day retreat at Red-Tail Overlook B+B in the Finger Lakes region is designed to help you change your relationship with fear, to stop treating it like a hindrance and turn it into an ally to create momentum and growth in your life—whether it's in sports, parenting, business, or creativity. Instead of making you walk over hot coals or dangle from high ropes courses ("we don't do that," assures Ulmer), she'll help clients shift into the next level of consciousness while hiking the rolling, wooded trails along Keuka Lake, facilitating creative role playing, and sharing ancient wisdom stories. If it sounds a little out there, the former champion athlete is one of the most respected sports mindset coaches in the field—she's the real deal. Says Ulmer, "If you turn fear into an asset, it will set you free." From $625; two-day fear camp in Salt Lake City, July 19-20, $190. 

 

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Top 8 Ultra-Long Distance Adventure Runs

Trail-running is exploding in popularity, and for good reason. What’s not to like about a sport that requires virtually no equipment—except (maybe) shorts and trail running shoes—and allows you to explore vast mountain ranges and terrain that most people will never experience? Even better, our country has some of the most beautiful and remote lines in the world.

Here are our picks for the best long-distance adventure trail-running routes in the country.

Wonderland Trail

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Mount Rainier National Park, Washington (93 miles, 24,000 feet of ascent)

It doesn’t get much better than running around the crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest, 14,410-foot Mount Rainier. The active volcano is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States. Phase change is visibly and audibly evident as you cross over sculpted valleys and moraines along the 93-mile Wonderland Trail. The 360-degree view of Mount Rainier starts at Longmire Visitor Center traveling counter-clockwise to Mowich Lake, then White River Campground before arriving back at Longmire. These are also the vehicle accessible locations where you can drop food and water if you’d prefer to break the route up into manageable chunks. Vast and remote in scope, the well-worn trail—often wide enough to run side by side—traverses through peaceful old-growth forests and subalpine meadows of wildflowers.

The Fastest Known Time: Kyle Skaggs; 20 hours, 53 minutes; September 23, 2006

Zion Traverse

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Zion National Park, Utah (48 miles, 9,000 feet of ascent)

This 48-mile route takes you on a tour of massive red cliffs and lush green valley floors as you run across the entire National Park. Just six years ago, this challenging point-to-point was virtually unknown. Then, two of ultrarunning’s hardmen revived the route and brought it into the sport’s consciousness. Most choose to run west, getting the big climb out of Zion Canyon over with early in their adventure. The views from the West Rim are breathtaking, but what makes this route amazing is its diversity: slot canyons with flash flood potential, switchbacks up sheer cliffs, jagged peaks, expansive sandstone slabs, improbable mounds of earth, sandy creek beds, and valley floors. The trail out of Zion Canyon uses about half of the Angel’s Landing hike, which you should include as an out-and-back add-on because it’s one of the best hikes on earth.

The Fastest Known Time: Mike Foote & Justin Yates, 7 hours 22 minutes, May 26, 2013

Softrock

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Silverton-Telluride-Ouray, Colorado (100 miles, 34,000 feet of ascent)

One race has captured the attention of the best mountain runners in the world—the Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run. It’s so coveted, in fact, that it’s nearly impossible to gain entry (first-time applicants have about a 1.4 percent chance). A popular way to experience the majestic 100-mile loop through the San Juan Mountains is to break it into three days ranging from 28-45 miles—a so-called “Softrock.” This ultra-tour of the iconic towns of Telluride and Ouray averages over 11,000 feet in elevation, with a total of 34,000 feet of uphill. Lacking the requisite oxygen to move anywhere near your sea-level potential (the race’s nickname is the “Hardwalk”), your rewards for the pain are plenty: alpine lakes, alpine meadows, remote mountain passes (Virginius pass is only as wide as a VW bus), gnarly scree fields, and the highest point on the course—14,048 feet Handies Peak. By the time you finish this one you will either swear off ultrarunning or throw your name into the lottery.

The Fastest Known Time: Kyle Skaggs; 23 hours, 23 minutes; August 5, 2008

Grand Canyon, Rim to Rim to Rim

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Arizona (42 miles, 10,700 feet of ascent)

Dropping into the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on the South Kaibab Trail is a quasi-religious experience. However, the sheer immensity of it all won’t hit home until you arrive at the North Rim—21 miles from where you started—and realize you now have to run back. Running into and out of the six-million-year-old hole has become a rite of passage for North American ultrarunners. There are some miles of mellow flat running along the Colorado River, but this route is defined by its two massive climbs through millions of years of rock sediment. If you under-hydrate or under-fuel the final 4,860 foot ascent will turn into a death-march (and you’ll understand why entire books have been written about deaths in the Grand Canyon).

The Fastest Known Time: Rob Krar, 6 hours, 21 minutes, May 11, 2013

Teton Circ

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Jackson, Wyoming (34 miles, 8,200 feet of ascent)

Starting at String Lake and following Cascade Canyon the well-maintained trail quickly covers 10,700 foot Hurricane Pass, where you will literally be stopped in your tracks by the view of the South, Middle, and Grand Teton mountains. Circling the youngest range in the Rocky Mountains is not for the faint of heart. The snowy steep descent from Static Peak divide is “no fall terrain,” and this adventure run is almost always a solitary endeavor. Bull moose and black bears will be your only company as you travel over lingering snowfields, past turquoise alpine lakes and paintbrush floral arrangements.

The Fastest Known Time: Evan Honeyfield, 5 hours, 34 minutes, September 17, 2009

Maroon Bells Four Pass Loop

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Aspen, Colorado (27 miles, 8,000 feet of ascent)

If the three-day Softrock is a bit more than you want to bite off, the Four Pass Loop is a more reasonable portion of big Colorado mountain running. Located just outside of Aspen, in the Elk Mountains, the loop starts at 9,500 feet and is the easily the best one-day ultra-run in all of Colorado. The 27-mile journey is an altitude runner’s dreamscape, with 8,000 feet of climbing and four passes over 12,000 feet in elevation (Buckskin, Trail Rider, Frigid Air, and West Maroon passes). If you have the lungs, almost every step is runnable (hence the blindingly fast FKT). Those fit enough to complete the loop are rewarded with some of Colorado’s world-class terrain, with impossibly clear lakes, waterfalls, bald mountains, and endless ridges framing the route.

The Fastest Known Time: Sage Canaday, 4 hours, 27 minutes, September 5, 2013
*Lance Armstrong ran the loop in 5 hours, 40 minutes, August 26, 2012.

Kalalau Trail

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NaPali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii (22 miles, 10,000 feet of ascent)

This 11-mile out-and-back on the northern shore of the island of Kauai feels like you are running along the edge of a deserted island. Dramatic 4,000-foot cliffs shoot out of the Pacific Ocean, covered in nothing but dark green vegetation and broken only by dark brown rock. From the Ke‘e trailhead most tourists only venture as far as Hanakapiai beach, just two miles along the route. Those who continue are treated to three of the seven Na Pali (which means “high cliffs”) valleys, each barricaded from the next by sheer cliffs. When the trail isn’t engulfed in vegetation, it provides stunning views of the coastline. Switchbacks take you from beach, over high cliffs, to high ridges and back again, until you are dropped onto the remote Kalalau beach. There is no road access to this beach, so to enjoy its tranquility you have to earn it on foot (or cheat by boat).

The Fastest Known Time: Max King, 4 hours, 59 minutes, January 22, 2012

Presidential Traverse

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Gorham, New Hampshire (26 miles, 9,600 feet of ascent)

What the “Presi-Traverse” lacks in feet-above-sea-level it more than makes up for in rugged rocky terrain. This is “peak-baggin’” at its best, a point-to-point route from Pinkham to Crawford Notch that summits the nine mountains of New Hampshire’s Presidential Range. The traverse is so technical that it’s hard to get into a rhythm or to feel like you are running for any significant length of time. “Running” through the most extensive above tree line area in the East means conditions can be harsh. Mount Washington, the highest peak on the route (and in New Hampshire) at 6,288 feet, has had some of the highest winds in recorded history, and has killed hikers of hypothermia in the summertime. Although not an official “ultra-distance” this route runs more like a mountain 50k than a trail marathon.

The Fastest Known Time: Ben Nephew, 4 hours, 34 minutes, September 7, 2013

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