Get sweaty this summer running a variety of races from 5Ks to ultramarathons.
OBX Ultramarathon 50K
May 3; Corolla, N.C.
Looking for a spring ultra? Consider heading to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for this 50K that’ll take you from Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla to the Wright Brothers Memorial. As you run along the sandy shores, you may spy shipwrecks, wild horses and a dolphin or two. All runners who beat the eight-hour mark will receive a custom lighthouse drawing by local artists—and free food and beer at the post-race party, hosted by Outer Banks Brewing Station.
Loudoun Street Mile
May 26; Winchester, Va.
A cool $350 goes to the overall male and female winners of this road mile. But it’s not just the prize money that entices hundreds of runners to this 27-year-old event; a mostly downhill finish makes for a quick time, separate heats for men and women keep the race fair for everyone, and the 12-and-younger crowd has its own heats. For the super speedy men, there’s an additional race for those gunning for a sub-6 performance. The entire event benefits the Laurel Center—the races have raised $29,000 for the cause since 2003.
Hats and Hops 5K
May 31; Chantilly, Va.
Bust out your favorite hat and head to this race in the Greenbriar Community of Fairfax. This brand-new event supports both nonprofit Bambi Uganda Orphans, pictured here, and the Montessori School of Fairfax. Runners with the craziest hats win an award, and the finish-line celebration at nearby Dogfish Head Ale House promises to be full of lushy, post-race fun.
Heroes Mud Run
May 24; Aurora, Ill.
Abbey Farms, which is run by and for the monks of the Marmion Abbey in Aurora, is best known for attracting visitors to buy pumpkins in the fall and Christmas trees in the winter. But there’s also a warm-weather reason to visit: the Heroes Mud Run on Memorial Day weekend. The 5K cross-country race is held on the grounds of the farm, as well as Marmion Academy, the boys’ prep school, run by the monks. Along the way runners will have to conquer 17 military-style obstacles and stomp through plenty of mud. The event benefits the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the Heart of a Marine Foundation. Kids, ages 4 to 13, can conquer the Little Heroes course, a 2K event that allows children to get in on the action.
Soldier Field 10 Mile
May 24; Chicago
The 11th annual Soldier Field 10 Mile gives runners the chance to live out their gridiron dreams by racing to the 50-yard line where the Bears play. The loop course starts just outside Soldier Field and heads south along the Lakefront, partially on Lake Shore Drive, to Hyde Park. The course turns north at 52nd Street and brings runners back to Soldier Field via the Lakefront Path. Runners receive a finisher’s medal, a technical T-shirt and a post-race tailgate party outside the stadium, with live music, sponsor giveaways and Goose Island beer. The stadium also offers free parking on race day!
North Shore Half Marathon
June 1; Highland Park, Ill.
This half marathon and 5K has become one of the most popular races in the northern burbs of Chicago. The race starts and finishes in downtown Highland Park, and the loop course features a great tour of leafy neighborhoods and parks while offering impressive views of Lake Michigan. The course is relatively flat, with the exception of the “Park Avenue Beach Hill,” which is rightly considered a beast. This year’s goodie bag will feature running shorts to go along with all those race T-shirts in your closet. The post-race celebration includes live entertainment and benefits Misericordia Heart of Mercy, which is home to 600 children and adults with mental and physical abilities.
Women’s Distance Festival 5K
May 17; Colorado Springs, Colo.
This community event, now open to all, started in 1979 and ran until 1984, when the race was held on the same historic day Joan Benoit Samuelson won the women’s Olympic gold medal. After taking a seven-year break, the event came back in 1992, and today the event benefits Girls on the Run of the Rockies. “The program combines training for a 3.1-mile run/walk event with life-changing, self-esteem-enhancing lessons that encourage healthy habits and an active lifestyle in 8- to 13-year-old girls,” says race director Timothy Gore. WDF has morphed over the years but is back stronger than ever under a partnership between Pikes Peak Road Runners and Zooma women’s race series.
Steamworks Half Marathon
June 7; Durango, Colo.
Durango’s most popular running event, this fast course through southwest Colorado’s stunning Animas Valley makes for an ideal road-trip race. With a 45-minute head start for newbies, this is also an ideal half for first-timers. The point-to-point winds along the river, with red-rock cliffs on the left and a 400-foot total elevation drop. The post-party is just as fun, with outdoor swimming at the Durango Sports Club and local Steam Engine lager. This one sells out fast, but cancellations are common, so jump on the wait list.
Heart and Sole 10K and Half Marathon
June 29; Boulder, Colo.
Making a bold move from the been-there-done-that Boulder Reservoir to the heart of downtown, the Heart and Sole Half Marathon becomes the first long-distance race, aside from the Bolder Boulder, with a permit to take the streets of this runner’s paradise. Featuring two big laps (or one for the 10K), the new road format will feature a speedy, spectator-friendly course. In addition to Brooks technical T-shirts and an overall high-quality race, participants can count on a big post-race block party at 14th and Pearl.
Redding Road Race
May 4; Redding, Conn.
This third annual “race for the cows,” looping the bucolic country roads of Redding, is all about the cause—and the swag. The race begins, ends and celebrates at the race beneficiary’s home base—the beautiful New Pond Farm Education Center—and spoils runners with tech shirts, personalized bibs (runners even get to pick their numbers) cooler bags, mason jars, stadium cups and cow bells. Winners will also receive cow cutting boards, cow trophies, Pilsner glasses and stadium cushions for their tired muscles. The 2014 race currently has runners from 23 states, 95 Connecticut towns and four countries.
Healthy Kidney 10K
May 10; New York City
The embassy of the United Arab Emirates sponsors this annual event that takes runners through Central Park and its spring splendor. Proceeds from the race benefit the National Kidney Foundation in honor of Sheikh Zayed, the late UAE president. And for the first time this year, the race will host a men’s and women’s professional field with equal prize money.
Vermont City Marathon
May 25; Burlington, Vt.
If you happen to be anywhere near Vermont’s Queen City, aka Burlington, at the end of May and are looking for a great time in a beautiful locale, check out this event. The annual race is going into its 26th year and is welcoming more than 3,000 marathoners this year. The fast course is known for spectacular spectators and its awesome views of Lake Champlain.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland Half Marathon
May 18; Portland, Ore.
If you know anything about the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, you know to expect different bands and the same great music year after year. This year’s headliner, G. Love and Special Sauce, is sure to attract thousands to the main stage at the post-race party in Portland—unofficially kicking off the annual Rose Festival. The course tours runners through different districts, starting near the Fremont Bridge in Waterfront Park, crossing over the Willamette River twice and passing through Laurelhurst Park. A 10K option is new this year, offering 6.2-milers a quick tour of the Willamette River.
Big Backyard 5K
June 1; King County, Wash.
This fast, flat 5K is what the name suggests—a big backyard extravaganza. The goal of the event is to provide a fun and affordable family experience while raising awareness for county parks. The race is dog friendly and even provides canine treats at the finish line. Not only are dogs encouraged and welcome, but there’s also a Kids Dash Challenge, where tots can chase after Bert the Salmon for a quarter-mile and receive a ribbon at the finish. The plush 5K course takes you all over Marymoor Park in King County. Race directors boast more food, beverages and fun in the post-event area this year—and if you break the course record, you’ll get a $100 bonus!
Echo Valley Trail Runs
June 7; Chelan, Wash.
Echo Valley, considered the wine country of Washington, offers a spectacular setting for the trail running series, celebrating National Trails Day on race day. With on-site camping at the start and finish, there’s no reason not to get a little lushy and make some new friends—and do some long-distance running in between glasses. Terry’s Treats is offering a Build Your Own Oatmeal and Yogurt Bar at the 6 a.m. breakfast prior to start time. Make some memories, get some dirt in your shoes and cleanse that palate for some tasty wines after crossing the finish line.
Born to Run Ultramarathons
May 17, Los Olivos, Calif.
Inspired by the best-selling book of the same title, this trail-running series offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to run for more than 24 hours or fewer than two, this small-town event is something to check out. With gently rolling hills, wildflowers in bloom and a mild central-coast climate, this springtime series will earn you some fresh perspective on long-distance trail running. The Born to Run series keeps a low profile, with race directors choosing to invest their efforts more into building relationships and less into marketing. Plus, you’re sure to make some new friends at this weekend distance-running celebration.
Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & 1/2 Marathon
June 1, San Diego
Are you looking for an epic summer run? Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego has everything you need. With playful SoCal summer scenery, energetic jam sessions at every mile, and thousands of spectators cheering you on, this event is sure to make a permanent mark on your running career. Whether it’s your first or your 50th race, this event promises a detailed tour of San Diego’s finest neighborhoods and famous areas. Make sure to pack your swimsuit: Sandy beaches will be calling your name from the finish line.
DeCelle Memorial Lake Tahoe Relay
June 14, Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Celebrating 50 years, this 72-mile relay race circumnavigates Lake Tahoe and all its majesty. Teams of seven run 8- to 12-mile legs, with some pretty serious elevation gain (more than 4,000 feet!). All proceeds support high school and youth running programs in California and Nevada, making it worth the price tag. The race has no sponsors but instead carries some authentic family history. After Robert DeCelle Sr. passed away in 1997, the family decided to make the event an annual reunion. The timers, workers and band are all part of the DeCelle family. So grab some friends, come up with a clever name and experience all this famous destination has to offer.
Gladiator Rock’n Run
May 10; Dallas
Brought to you by Dan Clark, formerly known as “Nitro” on the hit television show “American Gladiators,” the Gladiator Rock’n Run features 17 separate obstacles over a 5K course. Hurdling through a tire pit, leaping over fire, scaling walls, making your way over the muddiest terrain imaginable—you better put your game face on when you show up to the start line. After finishing, you’ll be rewarded with a cold beer (if you’re 21 or older) and a rocking post-race bash. If you’re looking to make things more interesting, come dressed in costume, and you’ll get the chance to win cool prizes at the after-party.
5K Foam Fest
May 17; Nashville, Tenn.
A unique obstacle-course race, the 5K course is full of foamy fun. With 15 to 30 obstacles, this course requires strength, endurance and guts. While every Foam Fest event is different, potential obstacles require you to run on water across man-made lily pads, navigate a 50-foot, foam-filled Slip ’N Slide, crawl through a mud pit under a mess of live wires and head down a thrilling 40-foot slide. To ensure the ultimate experience, persuade your friends to sign up as a team. The largest team to date has been 70 athletes deep, so recruit your family, friends and co-workers for a day of fun.
Down and Dirty Mud Run
June 8; Dallas
The Merrell Down and Dirty Mud Run isn’t an obstacle race for the faint of heart. Redefining “mud run,” this event will take you through the grounds of Cedar Hill State Park outside of Dallas. Catering to the strongest all-around athletes, course obstacles are focused on strength and balance. With military-style challenges, the event boasts a little taste of basic training. Bring the kids and register them for the family-friendly Matchbox Adventure Kids race. Built for children ages 4 through 13, the kids’ course offers fun-sized obstacles and plenty of muddy fun, even rewarding them with their own T-shirts and Merrell Buffs.
Komen Greater Atlanta Race for the Cure
May 10; Atlanta
Join the 14,000 pink-clad Atlantans expected to participate in this charity-driven 5K and 1-mile walk. In its 24th year, the event kicks off at 8 a.m. at a new venue—Buckhead’s Lenox Square—with participants traveling down Peachtree Street to the hoots and hollers of spectators. The funds—expected to reach $1.4 million this year—benefit Susan G. Komen Greater Atlanta, which provides breast health
services to medically underserved women in metro Atlanta.
May 17–18; Key West, Fla.
Run from Key Largo (for the 100-miler) or Marathon (for the 50-miler) all the way to Key West. Take in the turquoise-blue Atlantic Ocean views as you make your way through the subtropical paradise of “The Conch Republic.” Along with the two individual distances, there is a six-runner, 100-mile team relay race. Eleven aid stations at 10-mile intervals and coolers with ice and water at 5-mile intervals make sure runners stay healthy and hydrated. More than 1,000 people are expected at the 2014 event, including Chris Kostman, race director for the 135-mile Badwater Ultra through Death Valley. Complete the ultramarathon challenge at Higgs Beach with your toes in the sand.
May 17; Brookhaven, Ga.
Tour the picturesque city of Brookhaven during this community-centric 5K with all proceeds benefiting Ashford Park Elementary—in six years, the race has donated more than $150,000 to the local school. The USATF-certified course begins and ends at Village Place Brookhaven and travels through scenic Ashford Park, where locals come out in full force to support. The route passes homes, shops and eateries and includes slight changes in elevation for a challenging, but fair, course. Start is at 8 a.m. for runners and five minutes later for strollers, walkers and participants with pets.