Try a winter multi-sport race!

Sometimes it's worth it to tough it out  Credit: Tim DeFrisco/Allsport
It can be all too easy to consider a trio of eating, drinking and lounging a multi-sport event during the winter off-season. After all, its hard to stay motivated when the weather turns cold and the summer racing season seems so far away.

One of the best ways to stay motivated enough to do a few workouts is by signing up for a race. Since this is the off-season, try something a little different and have fun with it. Get out and play in the snow, skip the chilly swim and sign up for a duathlon or do a short indoor triathlon.

Besides, you cant lounge forever. Cabin fever will set in at some point plan your escape now.

In the snow

In Grayling, Michigan, the Winter Wolf Triathlon consists of a 45 minute paddle on the Au Sable river, a three mile snowshoe and a 8.4 kilometer cross-country ski on February 12. A less-competitive division offers shorter snowshoe and cross-country ski distances, making this a good race for those who want to go out for fun.

The event was created six years ago in this large canoe community to highlight the beauty of the Au Sable river during the winter. After a two-year hiatus, race organizer Cindy Olson resurrected the event and moved it later in the season so the minus 20 degree temperatures that occurred on previous race days would be less likely for this years event.

The cold weather helps create a dramatic backdrop for the race. The river is so beautiful in the winter, Olson said. Its filled with chunks of ice and steam rising off the waterits just incredible.

For a more extreme adventure race, consider the Taiga Challenge, taking place near Quebec in La Malbaie, Canada on January 28. Billed as the coolest adventure race on Earth, the multi-day event covers 450 kilometers and consists of snowshoeing, ice climbing, abseiling, cross-country skiing, ice boating, mountain biking and running.

The Iron Creek Winter Duathlon takes place in Mt. Hood, Oregon on March 4 with the more manageable distances of a five mile snowshoe and five mile cross-country ski.

Duathlons

Theres a world of difference between the two events that make up the Heaven and Hell off-road duathlon series in Brooksville, Florida. The series takes place in January, February and March. Heaven consists of a two-mile run, six-mile bike and one-mile run on a beginner-friendly course. Hell, of course, is quite a bit more difficult.

Inspired by the growing popularity of extreme adventure races, event organizer York Sommerville set out to create the toughest off-road duathlon he could. The result is a Hell a four-mile run, 12-mile mountain bike and 2-mile run on a hilly, technical course.

Although the distances arent that long, the difficult course makes it a challenge. We have runners climb ropes and scale walls and trees, Sommerville said. On this course, a 15-minute mile is pretty fast.

Those who might scoff at mountain biking in Florida are often surprised at the difficulty of the bike course, according to Sommerville. Youre constantly going up and down a series of hills, he said. You never get a good downhill to rest on. Thats what makes Hell such a hard race.

Other winter duathlons include the Snowflake Duathlon in Shreveport, Louisiana, on January 14 and the Chanoko Mountain Bike Duathlon in Granite Bay, California on February 25.

Indoor triathlons

The Nampa Recreation Centers Indoor Triathlon was started to help people train through the cold, snowy winter in Nampa, Idaho. Taking place on February 3, the event consists of a mile pool swim, 10 mile stationary bike ride and four mile run on the indoor track.

We get pretty nasty winters here, said organizer Christelle Lenard. It helps people stay in shape over the winter, and its fun to do something a little different indoors.

If youve got the cabin-fever bug, the Hoff & Leigh Winter Triathlon will get you outside for a 12-kilometer mountain bike and two-mile run, after a 500-yard pool swim indoors. This event takes place in Colorado Springs, Colorado on February 24.

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