How you’ll Benefit from the TC Challenge Race Series
How will you test yourself this year?
The TC Challenge Race Series from Twin Cities In Motion, consists of five challenges designed to motivate you in new ways to reach your goals. Spread throughout the year, or crammed into one intense weekend, each challenge offers something different for runners to get excited about this year.
I always spend time around the holidays figuring out what my next audacious running goals will be. Reflecting on the past year helps me look forward to the year ahead.
If you are like me, one of the best motivational tools to achieve those goals, is to sign up for some races. Paying entry fees and having specific dates on the calendar makes it feel real.
What is the TC Challenge Race Series?
Going on year three, Twin Cities In Motion created the challenge series based on input from the thousands of runners who race in TCM events every year. Executive Director Virginia Brophy Achman said,
Runners are always looking for new ways to challenge themselves, and our series offer them an opportunity to push their fitness to a new level.
This year, each race is chip timed, with online results. You can see how you compare to others in the series throughout the year. They add all of your race times together and declare a winner at the end.
Registering for one of the below challenges now guarantees early bird pricing, as well as additional perks. Finishers not only get a special, challenge specific medal, but a Brooks® Essential Long Sleeve ½ Zip Shirt (and some other cool stuff).
The Loony Challenge launched in 2013, the other four series joined it in 2014. Last year, 1,195 runners sign up for one of the five series.
The Year Long Challenge
One benefit of signing up for a series challenge is that it can help you stick to a regular running schedule. With races spaced strategically throughout the year in distances ranging from the 5k to the marathon, it is a great way to commit now to being fit in 2016.
This is great for those who want a semi-structured way to ramp up their miles to complete longer distances. One participant, Robby Cecil, said he, “…enjoyed having events lined up throughout the year.” Other runners like Dawn Stevans Piburn and Aaron Tinklenberg said (via Facebook) it was a great way to stay consistent for an entire season.
TC 5k Challenge
If you’re a new runner looking to build routine into your racing, the TC 5K Challenge is for you. Also ideal for short-distance racers working on their 5k PR.
New runner Rachel Bromander did the 5k challenge last year and found it “incredibly motivating.” She is planning to sign up for another challenge. She said she, “…used it to keep me motivated during the freezing winter!” She added that all the races were extremely well organized.
I would encourage you to find an additional 5k (or 10k) during the summer. It will keep you fit and motivated all the way into October.
TC Summit Challenge
The TC Summit Challenge provides a tremendous benefit if you are looking to safely ramp up miles to complete longer distances. With plenty of time to get ready, all you need is a solid training plan. Another benefit is guaranteed entry into the competitive Medtronic TC 10 Mile.
If you are looking to complete your first half marathon, this is a great way to do it. Training for the first two races will give you a good base to launch your half marathon training. Download our Free Half Marathon Training Plan.
The TC 10 mile in October is an added incentive to help running become a lifestyle.
NEW IN 2016: TC Summit Challenge, MNy Version
Take on a brand new version of your favorite race series! The MNy version of the TC Summit Challenge!
- Valentine’s Day TC 5K
- Hot Dash 5K
- Red, White & Boom! 5K
- Medtronic TC 10 Mile
TC Ultra Summit Challenge
The TC Ultra Summit Challenge includes the same races as the former, but replaces the TC 10 Mile with the full marathon. This is a great challenge for first time marathoners, or anyone looking to set a PR. Again, the benefit for you here is in successfully completing all four training cycles. You’ll put yourself in terrific shape for a strong marathon finish.
Rich Rein, another relatively new runner, completed the Ultra Summit this past year. He told me his sister encouraged him to signup because he could,
…build from a distance I was already comfortable with (a 5K) to a 10 mile race, then on to a half marathon before the final goal race [marathon]. The timing of each distance also appealed to me, as it seemed to offer a chance to savor each accomplishment along the way while allowing adequate time to build to the next milestone.
- Valentine’s Day TC 5K
- NEW: Hot Dash 5k or 10 mile
- Red, White & Boom! TC Half Marathon
- Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon
Push Your Body to the Limit
For some, you may be looking for a different type of challenge. Perhaps the excitement of building to a single race has worn off, but you’re not ready for an ultra marathon.
One of the TC Loony Challenges might be what you’re looking for. The Loony Challenges consist of running three different race distances all during marathon weekend in October!
Curious why anyone would do this, I reached out to Steve Stenzel, winner of the TC Loony Challenge, who told me,
I like “loony” things. I try to have fun with my racing and training or I start to take it too seriously. I never want “being fit” to feel like a full time job. I need to have fun with it. And I thought this would be a crazy/fun thing to try.Read his race recap here.
If you like running a lot in a short period of time, culminating with a 10 mile, this is your challenge. The TC Loony Challenge features 19.3 miles of racing on marathon weekend, including guaranteed Medtronic TC 10 Mile entry. It is for anyone who is a little Loony!
TC Loony Challenge Races included:
Training for this seems tricky. You need speed for the 5k, with endurance for the 10 mile. Stenzel told me that while he didn’t have a specific plan, he wanted to focus a lot on getting in quality long runs, up to 13 miles.
My big focus each week was my long run, but I also made sure to get in some 1-mile intervals, a few fartlek runs, and some decent tempo runs.
The biggest key is staying healthy.
* The Loony Challenge has a field limit of 750, so register now!
TC ULTRA Loony Challenge
If the Loony Challenge sounds too easy, maybe you’re ready for the TC Ultra Loony! You’ll not only run the 5k and 10k, but throw a full marathon on the end to culminate 35.5 miles of total racing on marathon weekend.
The Ultra Loony Challenge races include:
I can’t imagine running more than I did on marathon weekend. Conventional wisdom says you want to stay off your feet as much as possible the day before a marathon. Not if you were one of the 84 finisher of the TC Ultra Challenge!
In an interview on 6Run2, Don Sullivan, the 2014 TC Ultra Loony winner said his biggest goal while training was to get used to running while tired.
I just knew I wanted to run a lot of miles and many of the consecutive workouts fast (back to back), because that is what the race entails. Three races, back to back, not a lot of rest.
Don also talked about how he kept moving between the 10k and 5k events, so he wouldn’t stiffen up. Running fast while tired was the key to his success.
Although Steve and Don set out to race these series as fast as they could, many others were simply trying to finish. The challenge isn’t always about speed. Pushing your body to simply complete three races in 30 hours (+/-) is a significant accomplishment.
* The Ultra Loony Challenge has a field limit of 500, so register soon.
I have received several emails / tweets in the past few weeks with a common question: How do I stay motivated to run in the winter?
As mentioned above, registering for the TC Challenges Race Series is a great way to power through winter. Get a group of friends together and hold your own challenge within a challenge. See who is the fastest over the course of the year!
If you ran in one of the TC Challenge Race Series last year, share your experience below!