I couldn’t blame you if you spent all your time sunning on the beach at Trunk Bay; its talcum sands and snorkel-friendly seas make it a St. John must-see. But how much more entitled to a lazy day on the sand would you feel if you exerted yourself beforehand and really earned your place in the sun? My suggestion: St. John’s premier road race, 8 Tuff Miles.

Held every February, the route (it’s actually 8.38 miles) takes runners across St. John from Cruz Bay in the west to Coral Bay in the east, offering stunning up-close views of the island’s pristine beaches and lush landscape along the way. But they don’t call those miles “tuff” for nothing: the course starts at sea level but rises to an elevation of 999 feet – as high as the 86th floor of the Empire State Building – and average race-day temps are a balmy (OK, sweaty) 80-something degrees.

The speediest of the pack score prize money and “beer dollars” redeemable at a local bar, but no one leaves empty-handed. Every runner – no matter their finish time – goes home with a race T-shirt, a finisher’s medal (one year it was a commemorative bottle opener!), and lasting memories of a challenging, fun and unique U.S. Virgin Islands experience.

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