10 Challenges You Should Do Instead of the Tide Pod Challenge

Forget eating detergent and instead try these awesome outdoor challenges!

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You all know I L-O-V-E a good goal or challenge, from running streak challenges, writing streak challenges, year-long goals, monthly goals, and everything in between. My pea-sized attention span needs something to latch onto and tackle to prevent me from jumping around from one shiny thing to the next (oooh shiny!) And while the challenges I tackle tend to be oriented around a personal goal - be a better writer/runner/hiker/biker/climber/person/etc. - I can enjoy watching a good fad challenge like the next person who is bored at work (I mean...stuck in traffic. No no I mean waiting in line at the coffeeshop! That's the one.) Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? Or the Mannequin Challenge? Or even the Harlem Shake Challenge? Ah, good times. But I do draw the line at certain challenges - like the recent Tide Pod Challenge. Here are my votes on challenges to avoid and challenges to tackle (spoiler: they involve the outdoors, shocking!)


Tide Pod Challenge 

Oh, you haven't heard of the Tide Pod Challenge? Well apparently bored teens (you gotta love 'em, those creative and destructive maniacs) are filming themselves eating Tide Pods. Yup, you heard me, those very toxic detergent-filled pods that should only go into the mouth of your washing machine. I'd make some snarky comments, but a college student has already been hospitalized for doing the challenge

Hey look! There's only one thing on this "don't do this" list! Yay! Now for some fun alternatives:


1) Polar Plunge

The "polar plunge" or "polar bear plunge" is is actually a fairly common challenge in colder climes. In the United States it's commonly associated with fundraising for a charity, although it's also a New Year's Day tradition in some cities and other countries. The challenge is fairly simple: find some frigid water, go running into the water, come back out. It's like the ice bucket challenge on steroids. Pro tip: hit up a sauna afterwards.

Nieuwjaarsduik Scheveningen 2010. Image courtesy of Alexander Fritze - Wikimedia commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nieuwjaarsduik.jpg

Nieuwjaarsduik Scheveningen 2010. Image courtesy of Alexander Fritze - Wikimedia commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nieuwjaarsduik.jpg

2) Krispy Kreme Challenge

The Krispy Kreme Challenge is a local favorite of mine: 5 miles and a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I've run this race a few times and it's always a seasonal favorite. It starts at the belltower at NC State and the goal is to run 2.5 miles to the local Krispy Kreme, down a dozen doughnuts, and get back to the belltower in under an hour. (And yes, puking disqualifies you!)

3) 52 Hike Challenge

The concept of the 52 Hike Challenge* is simple: hike 52 times in one year. Start at any point in the year and track your hikes. Go on one mile hikes or one hundred mile hikes. Hike once a week or hike 52 days straight - whatever it is, just get out there and hike 52 times in 365 days! I tried to do this last year but I forgot to track my hikes (::facepalm::) but I'm working on it this year and so far so great!

4) 10,000 Women Trail Project

The 10,000 Women Trail Project is a collaboration between Hike It Baby and REI with the goal to get 10,000 women and girls on the trail and logging their hikes. It's not a mileage count but rather an attempt to get more women and girls on the trail.

5) Hike It Baby 30

The point of the Hike It Baby 30 challenge is to get families to hike 30 miles in 30 days, or to get outdoors 30 minutes three times a week. Challenges are held four times a year: January (registration now closed), April, September, and November. Registration for the April challenge opens mid-March. 

6) 365 Mile Challenge

The 365 Mile Challenge is a challenge organized by a group of bloggers with the intent to hike a mile every day for a year. Registration is now closed for 2018, but there will be a "late to the game" registration that opens in the spring.

7) Triangle Land Conservancy Challenge

If you're local to Raleigh-Durham then you can participate in the TLC Hiking Challenge! The Triangle Land Conservancy is a non-profit organization aimed at protecting and preserving land in the Triangle. They work to create nature preserves and connect local communities with those preserves. Six nature preserves are open to the public, and the TLC Hiking Challenge prompts participants to hike in each preserve and log their hikes online.

8) Make-A-Wish Trailblaze Challenge

The Trailblaze Challenge is an endurance event organized to benefit Make-A-Wish of Central and Western North Carolina. The challenge is to complete 28.3 miles on the Foothills Trail in Georgia with organized training hikes and trail support.

9) North Country Trail Hike 50 and Hike 100 Challenge

The North Country National Scenic Trail tracks 4,600 miles from North Dakota to New York, and the Hike 50 and Hike 100 challenges prompt hikers to explore the trail and cover 50 or 100 miles of the trail. Complete the challenge and get a patch!

10) Carolina Mountain Club challenges

This is a 6-for-1 challenge! The Carolina Mountain Club has six different challenges for hikers in the Carolinas:

  • South Beyond 6000 (SB6K)
    • Hike 40 selected southeastern peaks that reach over 6,000 feet
  • Lookout Tower Challenge (LTC)
    • Hike 24 fire towers in western North Carolina
  • Pisgah 400 (P400) 
    • Hike all 400 miles of trails in the Pisgah Ranger District
  • Waterfall & Cascade 100 (WC100) 
    • Hike to 100 of western NC's waterfalls
  • A.T.-MST Challenge -
    • Hike the 92 miles of the AT and the 135 miles of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail that the Carolina Mountain Club maintains
  • Youth Partner Challenge
    • Introduce young people under 18 to hiking and the outdoors.

Bonus: Come up with your own challenge!

You know I've got my eye on more than a few of these challenges for 2018, but you can also make up your own challenge! Challenge yourself to go hiking once a month, or to explore a new park, or to catch up with a friend via a hike instead of a coffee date. (Better yet: bring the coffee on your hike! Just make sure you Leave No Trace.) There are countless ways to challenge yourself this year, and that challenge doesn't have to include a Tide Pod.

Do you have a challenge that you want to tackle in 2018? Let me know in the comments! And keep hiking - I'll see you out there!


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