Mt. Washington Road Race (Pinkham Notch, NH)
Credit: Gil Talbot / AP

Outside of New Hampshire, people don't often think of Mt. Washington with any sense of awe. It's 6,288 feet at the summit, not much compared to the 14,000-footers in California, Colorado, and Washington state – except that it's home to some of the most volatile weather on the planet. Until 2010, Mt. Washington had the highest wind speed measured on Earth at 231 mph.

Not a bad place for a jog. Each summer, runners line up at the base of the mountain for a 7.6-mile race up the Auto Road to the summit. The Auto Road averages a very steep 12 percent uphill grade. In 2012 the race doubled as the USA Track & Field Mountain Running Championships. The rest of the 1,200 competitors were selected by lottery. [Mid-June;]