Events

24 Must-Do April/May Races Across the U.S.

Spring into action this season with one of these fun-filled events.


Spring into action this season with one of these fun-filled events.

MID-ATLANTIC

BEST Kids Inc. Superhero 5K
April 12, Washington, D.C.

bestkids.org

Have a Spiderman costume tucked in the back of your closet? Pull on those tights, strap on that cape and head to D.C. for this festive 5K dedicated to support foster youth throughout the city. While costumes may be optional, enthusiasm is not — with a free kids’ run following the 5K, plus music, food and face painting, it’ll be hard not to have fun.

Semper Fi 5K
May 10, Washington, D.C.
semperfi5k.com

Ever since race director Zach Burstein started the Semper Fi 5K in 2010, he’s cumulatively raised more than $165,000 for wounded warriors. This year he’s hoping to crack $50,000 in funds raised. Join the cause while competing alongside hundreds of vets, active military and civilians alike on a flat, fast Anacostia Park course. Organizers say 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Semper Fi Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to helping troops get back on their feet.

Germantown 5-Miler
May 17, Germantown, Md.
germantown5miler.com

With prize money and plenty of local bragging rights up for grabs, this race attracts a top elite field. The men’s winner ran a blistering 5:05 per mile pace last year. But middle-of-the-packers can also produce quick times on this rolling course. The race even offers an online, eight-week training plan for any newbies taking a crack at their first 5-mile jaunt.

MIDWEST

Egg Shell Shuffle Half Marathon and 5K
April 19, Elk Grove Village, Ill.
eggshellshuffle.com

Earn your Easter candy at the Egg Shell Shuffle, which features both a half marathon and 5K at the Busse Woods Forest Preserve. Racers can choose between a race T-shirt or running shorts when registering, and all runners will receive an entry to the Easter egg hunt — featuring gift cards, prizes, giveaways from local businesses and, of course, candy. A separate egg hunt will be held for kids 9 and younger. The event benefits the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Ravenswood Run
April 27, Chicago
ravenswoodrun.com

The 18th Annual Ravenswood Run is one of the top neighborhood races in Chicago, exploring the Ravenswood and Lincoln Square sections of the city. The flat, fast course is great for PRs, and this year marks the return of the pancake breakfast. For a $10 donation, runners can enjoy a post-race meal with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Ravenswood Community Services Food Pantry. New this year will be the Ravenswood Kids Races for children 2 to 10. All runners will receive a gender-specific technical T-shirt, and all proceeds benefit neighborhood charities.

Cinco de Miler
May 4, Chicago
cincodemiler.com

Celebrate Mexican independence and culture at this annual 5-miler along Chicago’s Lakefront, with a start and finish at Montrose Harbor. After the race you’ll enjoy a post-race fiesta with live music, piñata zone, a beer garden, churros, chips and salsa, and breakfast burritos. The top three male and female finishers receive a sombrero, and all runners will receive the Cinco de Miler drawstring goodie bag with gender-specific technical T-shirts. The race benefits the 100 Club of Chicago, which supports the families of police officers, firefighters and paramedics who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

MOUNTAIN WEST

Fruitvale 5K
April 25, Grand Junction, Colo.
gjrunning.com

This small race with a big heart is a great one for the whole family. Featuring a flat, looped, dirt course and vast views of the Bookcliffs and Mount Garfield, the affordable Fruitvale 5K is charged with extra meaning this year. Last April, race director Paul Hughes’ father died the day before the event. His runner friends stepped up and covered for their buddy, showing the true community spirit behind the low-key event. “Seeing the smiles on the kids and the families cheering each other on is priceless,” says Hughes, an elementary school physical education teacher. “I believe in teaching how to live a long and healthy lifestyle. Go running!”

Las Vegas Tough Mudder
April 26–27, Las Vegas
toughmudder.com

This obstacle run series is already known for its hard-hitting hurdles. In fact, only 70 percent of runners successfully complete Tough Mudder courses. Add the “brutal, arid environment” of the desert-set Lake Las Vegas course, and you’re in for a real challenge. Prepare for mud, fire and electric shocks, plus the notorious “arctic enema” ice plunge, which may actually help you beat the heat. You will run, you will crawl, you will climb walls through the fun of it all. Cold post-race beer and high-quality participant swag come standard.

Run for the Mountain 10K/5K
May 10, Flagstaff, Ariz.
runflagstaff.com

The first in Flagstaff’s popular six-event Summer Run Series, this hilly, off-road race takes place at the beautiful Fort Tuthill County Park, just two miles south of town. Race director Neil Weintraub says up to 500 people come out for the popular unofficial kickoff to summer. “There is also a fabulous kids race, which has lots of the Mountain School kids participating,” he says. You can feel good about event proceeds, which benefit the school, plus there’s free root beer floats for all. Hello, summer!

NORTHEAST

More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half Marathon
April 13, New York City
nyrr.org

If you’re a woman and want to see New York in its full spring splendor, then this is the race for you. According to organizers, the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half Marathon is the largest women-only half in the nation, with an estimated field of 7,500 runners. The course winds along the entire length of Central Park.

B.A.A. 5K
April 19, Boston
baa.org

The start and finish of this race will be relocated from Copley Square Park to historic Boston Common, offering runners a tour of the country’s oldest public park and the starting point of The Freedom Trail. (British troops camped in the park prior to the start of the American Revolution in 1776.) All participants will receive an Adidas-branded short-sleeved T-shirt.

Runapalooza Jersey Shore Half Marathon and Relay Marathon
April 26, Asbury Park, N.J.
runapalooza.org

If you’re not up for a spring marathon this year but still want to experience the thrill and excitement of a 26.2-mile race, add this event to your running list. Participants can form teams (from two to five people) to run a scenic course with five legs. The New Jersey event boasts a “giant party” waiting for you at the finish line.

NORTHWEST

Seahawks 12K Run at the Landing
April 13, Renton, Wash.
seahawks12krun.com

Want to show off your pride for the 2014 Super Bowl champions, the Seattle Seahawks, and get in a workout too? Participate in the annual Seahawks 12K at the Landing, which also includes a 5K and a kids run. (The 12K course includes a loop around the Seahawks’ Virginia Mason Athletic Center.) The runner who shows the most Seahawk pride with blue and green face paint, clothing, wigs or accessories receives a “12th Man” spirit award for best costume. Post-race festivities include a raffle, where you can win gift cards to some of the Landing stores, as well as Seahawks merchandise. The race also helps to raise funds for A Better Seattle, a Seahawks initiative led by head coach Pete Carroll that works to better the lives of at-risk youth.

Run or Dye Portland
April 20, Portland, Ore.
runordye.com

Part of the popular 5K color craze, the Run or Dye series is coming to Portland on April 20. Meant to appeal to runners of all abilities, the fun run 3-miler asks that participants come dressed in all white or in costume and be prepared to be covered in corn-starch powders of all colors by the end of the run. Stick around after the event for a full-blown rave and live music — a perfect opportunity to meet new runner friends out and logging some easy miles.

Bend Salmon Run
May 3, Bend, Ore.
runsalmonrun.com

Meant to celebrate the annual salmon run in the Deschutes River, the Bend Salmon Run offers a 5K, 10K and half marathon that all begin and end in Riverbend Park, with the gorgeous river serving as a not-to-miss backdrop. Post-race festivities include a haiku contest, and every finisher receives a pine sapling that may be planted in honor of the hard-working fish. Kids ages 3 to 10 can also participate in the Little Fry Run.

PACIFIC WEST

Marin County Half Marathon
April 19, Marin, Calif.
marinmarathon.com

On April 19, you can enjoy Marin County in all its gorgeous Northern California glory by participating in the Marin County Half Marathon, which also includes a 10K, 5K and Kids Fun Run. In true NorCal fashion, the race seeks to produce no waste, remain carbon-neutral, offer organic and local food, use recycled materials for its T-shirts and medals, donate proceeds to charity and encourage racers to donate old clothing and shoes. A true race for good conscience!

Miracle Miles for Kids
April 19, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
mm4k.com

There are few places in the country that are as beautiful as San Luis Obispo, so take the Miracle Miles for Kids 10K event as an opportunity to go embrace that beauty. But in addition to visiting SLO, you’ll also get the opportunity to help out the Family Care Network, which works to help children and families affected by trauma, and serves more than 1,400 foster and at-risk kids and families along the central California coast. The event’s course runs along the ocean, from Morro Rock to Cayucos Pier, and post-race festivities include live music, breakfast and a sense of accomplishment.

Pretty Muddy Women’s Mud Run
May 3, Sacramento, Calif.
prettymuddywomensrun.com

Want to get into the spirit of mud running without a militaristic vibe? Take a more laid-back approach to the mud run craze with the Pretty Muddy Women’s Mud Run. While the 5K obstacle course is technically for women only, the event does allow husbands, boyfriends and kids to participate in their own mud run during the last wave of the day. And if you decide to bring your men or kids with you, remember that you can run the “family wave” for free after participating in a women-only wave. The event organizers also encourage costumes, the most innovative receiving a prize. Just remember to bring a change of clothes, and don’t wear anything you’d rather not get permanently stained.

SOUTH

“The Biggest Loser” Half Marathon
May 3, Beaumont, Texas
biggestloserrunwalk.com

Dubbed a race for all fitness levels, “The Biggest Loser” rendezvous features a half marathon, 5K and kids 1-mile fun run. Join Jeff Nichols and Francelina Morillo from season 14 of the pounds-shedding TV show for this event that snakes its way through the streets of Beaumont and finishes with a fun finish-line festival. All runners receive a commemorative technical T-shirt and drawstring backpack, as well as plenty of goodies at the post-race celebration. Registering for this event is the perfect way to jump-start your training and spring you into summer feeling fit and healthy.

Cinco De Mayo 5K/10K
May 3, Nashville, Tenn.
whatdoyourunfor.com

Grab your sombrero and get ready to experience “Nashville’s biggest Cinco De Mayo party” at this annual May event. This is part of a series of unique races put on by “What Do You Run For? Event Management” in Nashville, which has an emphasis on organizing supremely memorable events. Guaranteed to be spirited and colorful, this event welcomes runners and walkers to join the fun. Whether you come for the run or the T-shirt, a complimentary Michelob Ultra will be waiting for you (if you’re 21 or older) at the post-race party to celebrate your accomplishment.

Bad Prom Run
May 16, Austin, Texas
badprom.com/locations

Looking to light up the night, Austin’s Bad Prom Run gives you the chance to pull out those ugly bridesmaid dresses, outdated prom ensembles and the tackiest suits you can find. Presenting plenty of photo opportunities, this blast-from-the-past event features four classic prom themes along the course: “Evening in Paris,” “Titanic,” “Fairytale Romance” and “Under the Sea.” Whether you bring a date, sign up as a team or run as an individual, this event is a hilarious dash from start to finish with plenty of bright lights, big hair and wild dancing.

SOUTHEAST

Gulf Coast Half Marathon
April 13, Pensacola Beach, Fla.
gulfcoasthalf.com

The fifth running of this pancake-flat half marathon boasts a post-race party sponsored by Pensacola’s famous Flounders Chowder House. Before enjoying some grub, however, participants run 13.1 miles through stunning neighborhoods while taking in inspiring views of the Gulf of Mexico on one side of the course and the Santa Rosa Sound on the other. After crossing the finish line, runners receive a finisher’s medal that doubles as a bottle opener, ideal for post-race lounging at the beach.

Iron Girl Clearwater Women’s Half Marathon & 5K
April 13, Clearwater, Fla.
irongirl.com

Feel the overwhelming girl power at this women’s-only half marathon and 5K. Celebrating 11 years, the scenic run to the beach starts and finishes at downtown Clearwater’s Coachman Park. After achieving your personal best, rejoice in your new performance women’s shirt and finisher’s custom medal at the post-race breakfast. Giveaways also include Iron Girl jewelry to the top three finishers in each age group and top three mother-daughter teams.

SweetWater 420 Fest 5K
April 19, Atlanta
sweetwater420fest5k.com

The 10th running of this local favorite is debuting a new course, with a 9 a.m. start at Centennial Olympic Park in the center of Atlanta’s downtown. While it may be a fresh route, the commitment to post-race beer stays true — each participant 21 or older receives a coupon for a complimentary SweetWater draft beer or soft drink at the post-race celebration. Runners can also select a three-day pass option at registration to get access to the SweetWater 420 Fest going on throughout the weekend.