With the Olympics just around the corner, 2016 is the year of the athlete. We’re throwing down the gauntlet here at WF to push your fitness limits this year and challenge yourself in new (and sometimes scary) ways. Whether you’re serious about setting personal bests, pushing your body to its limits or you’re just keen to throw yourself over some inflatable obstacles while covered head to toe in mud, Australia has some cracking events coming your way this year which really should command a place on your sporting bucket list.

The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race – VIC – 30-31 January

January brings with it an event that will have the lycra-clad cycling fraternity drooling with excitement. Chances to pedal alongside a Tour de France winning rider don’t come around every day, making The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race one not to be missed. The Australian cycling legend chose the route for the People’s Ride and he will join masses of fans on the start line in Geelong ahead of a 65km or 111km cycle – dependent on how fit you feel!

Cole Classic – NSW – 7 February

Swapping cycling shorts for Speedos, the Cole Classic demands you don your finest pair of goggles for one of Australia’s longest running ocean swims in early February. Brave the choppy sea, pull on your brightly coloured swimming cap and compete in either the 5km, 2km or 1km races as you depart from Shelly Beach headed for Manly. If you’re reliant on arm bands, this isn’t the race for you. However, the Cole Classic represents a great opportunity to experience an ocean swim.

Spartan Race – QLD – 27 February

Freezing cold water. Mud. Fire. Spartan Race presents an altogether different challenge in the second month of the year. Your body doesn’t need to be rippling with muscles to complete the 6km course at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, but you will require plenty of resilience as you battle your way over 35 obstacles. If you’re still standing as you reach the final 300m of the course, you may want to hold back the smug smile until you overcome the Spartan 300 – a race within a race that lays out a series of 12-15 obstacles in a Ninja Warrior style finale to really test your mettle.

Colour Run – ACT – 28 February

If the other races seem a little too hardcore for your liking, this one is a bit more fun (in our opinion). The country’s capital will be painted red, blue, green, yellow and just about every other conceivable colour as thousands of people descend on Canberra for Colour Run. The self proclaimed ‘Happiest 5k on the planet’ combines fitness with fun in February as entrants run, walk, shimmy and shake their way to the finish, where a party, featuring plenty of excitable people throwing color around, awaits. If the thought of several paint tins exploding in your immediate vicinity appeals to you, then Color Run is ideal.

ROC Race – QLD – 13 March

Aptly titled the Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge, ROC Race brings its vast array of inflatables to Sunshine Coast Stadium in March. If you’ve always dreamed of being a contestant on a wacky 90’s gameshow then this will be right up your street. Suitable for all fitness levels and ages over 13, the 5km course will provide family, friends, fellow competitors, and anyone else who happens to be watching, with much hilarity when you faceplant the big red balls.

Orange Challenge – NSW – 20 March

March has a brand new event that is bound to set pulses racing among the two wheel community, The Orange Challenge. For hardened cyclists, nothing gets the blood pumping like the prospect of 2,000m worth of climbing, rolling hills and a 170km circuit to tackle, especially when this is the event’s inaugural outing. With the backing of Bicycle Network, it promises to be a must do for every budding biker.

Xterra Half Marathon and 5km – NSW – 24 April

If running on treadmills and roads is grinding you down, hitting the trails is the perfect antidote to reignite your passion. Taking place a day after the Xterra Asia Pacific Championships (24 April), the Trail Half Marathon is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the elements and pound the ground across a tough 21km course in Callala. You can also tackle the half marathon with a team mate or, if you fancy a softer introduction to trail running, enter the 5km event.

Ironman 70.3 – WA – 30 April

Ok, so this one is a big ask (we aren’t up for this kind of challenge, yet). Ironman 70.3 at Busselton is one of the marquee events on the Australian triathlon calendar in 2016. Multisport enthusiasts from across the country will make the pilgrimage to Western Australia in May to see if they have what it takes to conquer one of the most challenging events this year. The mere thought of a 1.9km swim, followed by a 90.1km bike ride and half marathon to finish is enough to make most people weak at the knees, but it won’t deter thousands of triathletes from taking the plunge.

Haven’t found your perfect race? Gogorace has a comprehensive database of sport and fitness events to satisfy every fitness lover.