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24 Must-Do June/July Races Across the U.S.

Hit the trails or branch out and run one of these quirky summer races.

Hit the trails or branch out and run one of these quirky summer races.

MID-ATLANTIC

Run for Roses 5K
June 14; Wheaton, Md.
mcrrc.org/run-roses-5k

Hey ladies—this race is for you! Part of the Maryland Road Runner Club of America’s Women’s Distance Festival Series, this 5K is run mostly on dirt and gravel trails in Wheaton Regional Park. Prizes go to overall winners and the fastest mother-daughter duo, but all runners will get a long-stem rose and finisher’s certificate for their efforts.

Fight for Air Climb
June 14; Alexandria, Va.
fightforairclimb.org

How fast can you climb 56 stories? Find out at the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb, which has runners, walkers and even firefighters in full gear scaling the steps to the top of the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center. Not up for the complete climb? Race 28 flights instead of 56. Either way, you’ll raise funds and awareness for those fighting lung cancer.

Rev3 Glow Run
July 8; Ashburn, Va.
rev3glow.com

Pop on a glow necklace, dress in your brightest neon gear and flash and sparkle your way around the bucolic community of Willowsford in this night-time 5K. Cruise through the finish line (complete with smoke and lasers) then stick around for fun and family-friendly post-race entertainment and eats.

MIDWEST

The Micro Brew Mile and 6K Road Race
June 21; Moline, Ill.
microbrewmile.com

Running and beer go great together. The inaugural Micro Brew Mile and 6K in the Quad Cities will offer the fastest runners in the Midwest a chance to show off their mile time and win cash prizes. For those wanting more of a traditional road race, the 6K run offers pint glasses as awards three deep in each age group. Plus we expect nearly everyone will run a PR at that distance. (After all, how many 6K races are there?) All runners can enjoy the post-race festivities, which will feature the best of local handcrafted beers to sample, in addition to great food and live entertainment.

Disco Dash 5K and 10K
June 26; Chicago
discodashrace.com

How many races give prizes to the funkiest male and female finisher? Here’s your chance to get your ’70s groove on with these 5K and 10K runs along Chicago’s Lakefront that celebrate the disco culture. Costumes are highly encouraged, but anyone is welcome to participate in these Thursday night runs that start and finish at Soldier Field. The post-race party features music by the Shagadelics, a disco experience not to be missed. The races benefit the Guaranteed Rate Foundation, which provides financial support for people with unforeseen hardships and emergencies.

Strike Out ALS 5K
July 15; Chicago
strikeoutals5k.org

Get your chance to run at the home of the Chicago White Sox while raising money for the Les Turner ALS Foundation at the Strike Out ALS 5K. This fifth annual evening run features a new course around U.S. Cellular Field, complete with entertainment at every mile. A post-race party at the ChiSox Bar and Grill will include food, drinks and a live concert, in addition to the opportunity to explore the park. First-, second- and third-place fundraisers will receive on-field recognition at an upcoming White Sox game, and anyone who raises more than $250 will receive a ticket voucher for an upcoming game.

MOUNTAIN WEST

Strawberry Shortcut 5K/10K
June 22; Glenwood Springs, Colo.
strawberryshortcut.com

Part of this town’s famous Strawberry Days festival weekend, the Strawberry Shortcut races through downtown Glenwood Springs, home to the world’s largest hot springs pool. “The Strawberry Shortcut is in its 38th year. The rich history of this footrace through the town makes this a fun event for competitive racers and families alike,” says race director Joy White. Fresh fruits and tasty treats from Zheng Asian Bistro will satisfy hungry runners, along with romping music at the finish line. Plus the event benefits a worthy cause—Special Olympics Colorado.

Winter Park Half Marathon
June 28; Winter Park, Colo.
shiningstarsfoundation.org/events/winter-park-half-marathon

The snow has thawed and it’s time to leave the city behind to experience the magic of summer in the mountains. This scenic, high-altitude half marathon, just 60 miles from Denver, makes a big, beautiful loop on remote dirt roads. Demanding yet accessible for runners of all levels, the course starts at 8,700 feet, but climbs and descents are surprisingly mellow for the Rocky Mountain setting. The effort is worth it! Through the Shining Stars Foundation, the Winter Park Half sends a remarkable 100 percent of proceeds to help provide outdoor programs to children living with cancer.

Spruce Canyon 5K/Scar Top 12K
July 4; Coal Creek Canyon, Colo.
racingunderground.com/coalcreek

Just 25 minutes from Boulder or Golden, this mini-but-mighty dirt road race celebrates the beauty of small-town America. Part of the mountain enclave’s annual Freedom Fest, this picturesque, low-key event features an early-morning excursion in a quiet canyon, followed by classic Fourth of July festivities like an old-fashioned parade, kids games, art booths and live music. The 5K race begins at 8,200 feet and climbs just 300 feet before doubling back—but with a 1,000-foot ascent, the Scar Top 12K is more challenging. “We hear over and over again that this one is so worth doing—refreshing mountain air, family-friendly competition and hot pancakes afterwards,” says race director Ashley McNamara. “What could be better?”

NORTHEAST

Portugal Day 5-Miler
June 15; New York City
nyrr.org/races-and-events/2014/portugal-day-5m

You don’t have to be of western European descent to take part in the Portugal Day 5-Miler. This annual event kicks off in gorgeous Central Park on Father’s Day. At the finish line, all the goodies await you, including delicious Portuguese food and music. This year, the race sponsor, Portuguese Circle, will be holding a raffle, with a free trip to Portugal as the grand prize.

Mount Greylock Trail Race
June 15; Adams, Maine
runwmac.com/info-greylocktrail.html

This race is all about getting back to nature. Organizers brag that 5K runners will be able to romp through fields, meadows and around the ponds surrounding scenic Greylock Glen. Bolder runners who are tackling the half marathon will summit Mount Greylock via the Thunderbolt ski trail and descend it along Jones’ Nose.

Bubble Palooza
June 21; Woodstown, N.J.
bubblepalooza.com/philidelphia-pa

If you’re the type of runner who enjoys getting splashed with colored corn starch in a Color Run race, then consider giving the Bubble Palooza a shot. Participants are encouraged to show up in a white T-shirt and are then blasted with thousands of color bubbles every 15 minutes along the event’s 3-mile course. According to the event’s website, the race is a combination of the “Spanish Tomato Toss, Big Bird’s Bath Tub and a box of Lucky Charms.”

NORTHWEST

Vancouver USA Marathon
June 15; Vancouver, Wash.
vancouverusamarathon.com

As one of the top-10 feature-filled marathons in the nation, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience at this year’s Vancouver USA Marathon. In its fourth year, the race boasts of bigger and better features than years past. Plus it’s the only marathon with a summer brewfest. This event has a three-day festival throughout race weekend, featuring 25 breweries and 50 beers on tap. With Vancouver being the “hidden gem” of the Northwest, you’re sure to catch some eye-popping views along the course, including parts of the majestic Columbia River.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon & 1/2 Marathon
June 21; Seattle
runrocknroll.competitor.com/seattle

This Northwest installment of the worldwide series won’t disappoint with its amicable weather, masterful course layout and jump jive an’ wailin’ band lineup. With headliner The Presidents of the United States of America rocking the finish line festival, you don’t want to miss this one. Awesome views of Lake Washington and a jaunt on Mercer Island make this course a beauty to behold. With a race date in June, you have a fighting chance to avoid the infamous rains and cloud laden skies that are so typical of Seattle. Raced Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland last month? Earn the Pacific Peaks heavy medal after you cross the finish line!

Fueled by Fine Wine One-Half Marathon
July 13; Dundee, Ore.
fueledbyfinewine.com

The Dundee Hills rank with the high rollers, standing as the heart and soul of Oregon wine. Enjoy the flowing grapes next month with other wine-enthusiastic runners at this off-road half marathon that blends the two with flair. Out on the course you’ll experience some of the most magical vineyard vistas in all of Oregon. The hills will work you, but the wine at the finish will lull you into a post-race lushy reverie. The vines are beckoning, but don’t delay because the race caps at 1,200.

PACIFIC WEST

The Bubble Run
June 21; San Jose, Calif.
bubblerun.com/events/san-jose

Family fun for everyone can be found at this year’s Bubble Run. Hit the start line clad in white and prepare to finish colored up with sudsy pops of different hues. With four “bubble bogs” of different colors throughout the 5K, you’ll be sure to drown out the white. Kids under 6 years old run for free with a registered entrant. Tons of “bubble-teers” will be helping out along the course just in case you get a pesky sud in your eye.

San Lorenzo River Trail Runs
June 21; Santa Cruz, Calif.
coastaltrailruns.com/slr_san_lorenzo_river.html

If you’re looking for a scenic summer event, the San Lorenzo Trail Runs should definitely be on your list of races. Runners novice and experienced can find a distance that suits them kindly among the 10K, half marathon, 30K, marathon and 50K options. Run through 300-foot, 1,500-year-old coastal redwoods, forge some rivers disguised as streams and soak up some sun in the lush open meadows as you are enveloped by the magical history of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Neon Dash
July 12; San Diego
neondash.com/locations/sandiego

If you’ve never braved the darkness and donned neon garb, San Diego’s Neon Dash will be even more novel and illuminating. With four “epic glow zones” along the ambling 5K course, you’ll be covered head to toe with glow. Fierce black lights litter the course, allowing your friends and you to glow for the cameras as you take some great run-brag pictures for social media. The finish line ushers you into a bumping dance party with great music and fun for all ages. Grab a T-shirt and your sneaks and get ready for the party, which starts at 8 p.m.

SOUTH

Electric Zombie Run
June 13; Dallas
electriczombierun.com/dallas

Combining the best of glow races and zombie runs, the Electric Zombie Run is designed to light up the night, while also providing a good scare. Running in the dark, all participants will receive glow lights to guide them along the zombie-filled course. If you’re a speed demon and finish the 5K course in 35 minutes or less, you’ll be awarded a glow-in-the-dark medal that reads, “I survived the Electric Zombie Run.” If you are slower than that, however, you’ll be greeted at the finish line with a medal that reads, “I was too slow. I am a zombie.” Designed for runners of every pace, this event offers a whole evening of festivities. Whether you’re a survivor or a zombie at the finish, the post-race bash promises to be an epic celebration.

Pure Austin Fitness XTERRA Muleshoe 6K/16K Trail Races
June 14; Spicewood, Texas
racerevolutions.com/events/xterra-trail-runs

Held in the Muleshoe Bend Recreation area outside of Spicewood, the Muleshoe Trail Races are wholly unique. If you’re interested in negotiating off-road terrain and enjoying a morning in nature, this is the event for you. Lined with cedar trees, the trails offer a refreshing amount of shade for runners on even the hottest days. Rocky ledges, gravel, compressed dirt and rock paths will greet runners on both the 6K and 16K courses, making the event challenging but still accessible to trail running newbies. Following the race, runners are encouraged to take a dip in the cool waters of Lake Travis and even set up camp in the park for the night to kick back and relax.

4th of July Music City 5K/10K
July 4; Nashville, Tenn.
whatdoyourunfor.com/july-4th-music-city

There’s no better way to celebrate Independence Day than by running through the streets of Nashville. Taking you past some of Music City’s most notable landmarks, the 4th of July 5K/10K promises plenty of music, food and family fun before, during and after the races. Make a day of it and stick around The Lawn at Riverfront Park for fireworks and patriotic revelry. Even better, runners will race alongside nearly 200 active members of the 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan for a shadow event. With proceeds going to The Salvation Army, there’s no better way to honor our nation on this important holiday.

SOUTHEAST

Virginia Highland Summerfest 5K Road Race
June 7; Atlanta
vahi.org/summerfest

Bring out the entire family for this 5K and tot trot in one of Atlanta’s most picturesque communities. At 8 a.m. more than 1,500 runners begin their foot journey at the intersection of Virginia and North Highland avenues—the neighborhood’s namesake—and travel past renovated bungalows and down tree-lined streets ending near John Howell Park. The tot trot at the Inman Middle School field follows, with children 5 and younger invited to run, waddle or even crawl their way to the finish line. All runners receive a commemorative Summerfest 2014 T-shirt they can don for the art and music festival kicking off after the race.

Rope Mill Half Marathon and 5K
June 14; Woodstock, Ga.
mountaingoatadventures.com/ropemillrun

Choose between a half marathon or fast 5K course at this trail run series finale at Olde Rope Mill Park. Runners begin on a concrete jogging path along a river and then head into the woods running mostly along a well-shaded singletrack trail. After conquering the constantly rolling terrain, the top three finishers in the long and short course distance categories will receive awards. First place winners in the 13.1-mile race will don a custom podium shirt. Little guys under 10 years old can also get in on the fun and win a finisher’s medal by participating in a free, untimed half-mile race.

Beach Beast 5K
June 14; Miami
beachbeast.com

Find your inner beast at this elaborate 5K in the picturesque island town of Key Biscayne. Participate as an individual or in a team (of at least four) and make your way through historic Virginia Key Beach Park on a course filled with turns, runs and obstacles. Expect to traverse through at least ankle-deep water during the challenging route, and celebrate the finish with an oceanside beach party, complete with food, drink and music. Although a kids run isn’t part of the program, a playground area with mini-obstacles and water will keep little ones entertained.