32 Must-Do January/February Races Across The U.S.
Beat the winter blues and sign up for one of these events.
Beat the winter blues and sign up for one of these events.
JFK 20K & MLK 5K
Jan. 18, Washington, D.C.
Celebrate two great historic figures in the nation’s capital this January. The out-and-back course along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal will speak to your patriotic side as you commemorate these legendary freedom fighters—and mark the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination (November 2013). With both 5K and 20K options, all runners are welcome. The 5K begins at 9 a.m., and the 20K begins at 10 a.m.—two no-excuses, late-morning starts that cater to any type of morning person. Bust out the American flag shorts and red, white and blue attire—it’s not Fourth of July, but it’s worth the patriotic gesture.
Cupid’s Undie Run
Feb. 15, Washington, D.C.
Clothing is not encouraged at this Valentine’s undie party. Freeze your buns off with hundreds of other revealing runners, and race to beat frostbite in odd places during this mile-long jaunt through D.C. If the chance to show off those abs in a socially acceptable fashion—not punishable by law—isn’t enough, then revel in the fact that this race is benefitting The Children’s Tumor Foundation. Strip down for a cause—just remember to put on underwear at the start line. (Full nudity is discouraged, but that’s probably a good thing!)
Multiple dates, multiple locations
Join the Howard County Striders as they kick off 2014 with Operation Iceberg—one installment of the weekly series races the club offers around Maryland. Show up at least 30 minutes early and pay an incredibly low entry fee to participate in the one or more of the races in the series. A point system determines the overall winners at the awards ceremony on Feb. 16. Distances range from 2 miles to 15K—providing options to runners of all abilities. Stride over to the website to find exact dates and locations in 2014.
Dahlgren Trail Half Marathon
Feb. 15, King George, Va.
The recommended age minimum is 15 years old at this trail half marathon in Virginia. The out-and-back course covers the Dahlgren Rail Heritage Trail (DRHT)—which means it’s primarily flat, smooth and wide. Limited to 225 participants, the race sends runners off in waves of 20 people, organized by age group. If you’re itching to move away from sometimes over-crowded road races, this race is a perfect place to tap into the serenity of a small trail event (no cars allowed). The DRHT, which opened in 2006, will be 16 miles long when completed. It stretches across the community of King George County near the historic town of Fredericksburg. The DRHT preserves open space, serves as an active wildlife corridor and is open for other non-motorized uses, such as cycling, walking and cross-country skiing.
Valentine’s Day Hearts ‘r’ Running 5K
Feb. 15, St. Paul, Minn.
Spread the love this Valentine’s Day at the Hearts ‘r’ Running 5K at Como Lakeside Pavilion—a much more cardio-friendly option to polishing off a heart-shaped box of milk chocolates. The race promotes preventing illness by simply exercising—the greatest Rx—and living a healthy lifestyle with family and friends. Proceeds from the race go to the Charities Challenge mission of prescribing exercise, training and active communities to prevent illness—participants are even encouraged to don a sign on their backs declaring their own reasons for participating.
Feb. 2, Grand Rapids, Mich.
In true Groundhog Day tradition, runners will feel a hint of déjà vu as they loop the 4.4-mile course six times during the race (the course is certified for those seeking a BQ performance). The most appropriately dressed groundhog will be chosen prior to the race, and finishers will receive a hoodie and an embroidered stocking cap. Overall winners, both male and female, will receive a piece of Groundhog Day art made by a local chainsaw artist. Bundle up and hang with Punxsutawney Phil and Grand Rapids Gus in this annual celebration.
Frozen Gnome 50K and 10K
Jan. 11, Crystal Lake, Ill.
Gnominate yourself to join the McHenry County Ultrarunning Dudes and Dudettes (aka, MUDD), at their annual Frozen Gnome 50K and 10K. The course boasts a winter wonderland as you weave through the hilly, singletrack trail loop. The finish line will be stocked with plenty of toasty treats to warm you after the trek through the frozen wilderness. Bring all of your biggest fans to cheer at the various spectator points throughout the race and offer much-appreciated encouragement. With age-group awards, as well as various surprises along the way, this race will be one to remember.
Cupid’s Undie Run
Feb. 15, Chicago
Clothing is not encouraged at this Valentine’s Day undie party. Freeze your buns off with hundreds of other revealing runners, and race to beat frostbite in uncomfortable places during this mile-long jaunt through Chicago. If the chance to show off those abs in a socially acceptable fashion—not punishable by law—isn’t enough, then revel in the fact that this nationwide series benefits The Children’s Tumor Foundation. Strip down for a cause—just remember to put on underwear at the start line. Full nudity is smartly discouraged, given that this race is held in mid-February in Chicago.
Frosty’s Frozen Five and Ten
Jan. 18, Littleton, Colo.
For those who embrace the sub-zero winter temps—as long as the course is flat!—Frosty’s Frozen Five and Ten is calling your name. The flat 5- and 10-mile courses begin and end at Hudson Gardens and weave through the paved Platte River Trail. If the frozen winter scenery doesn’t warm your appendages, all participants will receive a long-sleeved race logo shirt to wear on all future 2014 runs. Gear up and line up for this grand, winter extravaganza—you can take a hot shower and revel in finish-line refreshments when you’re done.
Prairie Dog Half Marathon
Jan. 19, Louisville, Colo.
Lace up your shoes and get running with the winter edition of this four-race series. Kicking off at 8 a.m., this race explores numerous parks and scenic areas of the city. Participants also earn a unique finisher medal, featuring Peedy the Prairie Dog, and a long-sleeved T-shirt. Relive the experience with the free photos that will be available to download online following the event. The event is offered in different Colorado locations for each season, including autumn.
Running From An Angel Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K, 5K and 50-Miler
Jan. 25, Boulder City, Nev.
Take a break from the bright lights of Las Vegas Boulevard and venture out to Lake Mead for a variety of race options. Rolling hills and beautiful desert landscape will provide you with the perfect backdrop for your next PR at a distance of your choosing. Every runner will receive a finisher medal, inspired by the desert landscape that surrounds the courses. Try your luck in Sin City—away from the slots—and cover the desert terrain of Nevada on foot.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon & 1/2 Marathon
Jan. 19, Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz.
Kick off 2014 with the first Rock ‘n’ Roll event of the year. This event features two starts in two different cities, with both races finishing at Tempe Beach Park (new this year!). If your legs aren’t quite ready to stride 13.1 miles, grab a run bud and register for the two-person relay option. Running is better together, especially during the finish line concert, featuring headliner The Joy Formidable. For those who prefer biking this January, the event offers a 19-mile bike tour, starting in Phoenix and ending at the park in Tempe.
Freedom Trail Run 5K
Multiple dates, Boston
This unique 5K takes exactly two hours, visiting at several historic sites in the area for photo ops, including the 1770 Boston Massacre site in Boston Common. This run also tours some other prominent spots in the historic city—from the Paul Revere House to the Bunker Hill Monument, the run takes you through more than eight tourist stops and ends at the Charlestown Navy Yard. Runners will spend four to five minutes at each stop to admire and document their adventure. It’s a reminder that the best way to see a city—especially this city—is on foot.
Feb. 23, Hyannis, Mass.
This classic mid-winter marathon has a very scenic and historic course. It passes Craigville Beach, Kalus Beach, historic Hyannis Harbor, Lewis Bay, the John F. Kennedy Memorial and the charming Cape Cod villages of Hyannisport and Centerville. Marathon legend Bill Rodgers will join runners at the race exposition on Saturday, offering autographs and smiles to registered participants. The half marathon and marathon kick off at 10 a.m. on Sunday—but if an early marathon start is more your style, take advantage of the 9:30 a.m. start time that’s also offered to runners. Hit up the pre-race pasta dinner, where runners can carbo-load to their satisfaction for only $17.
Cupid’s Undie Run
Feb. 15, multiple locations
Clothing is not encouraged at this Valentine’s Day undie party. Freeze your buns off with hundreds of other revealing runners, and race to beat frostbite in uncomfortable places during this mile-long jaunt through the streets of several cities—including New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Boston. If the chance to show off those abs in a socially acceptable fashion—not punishable by law—isn’t enough, then revel in the fact that this race benefits The Children’s Tumor Foundation. Strip down for a cause—just remember to put on underwear at the start line. (Full nudity is discouraged, but that’s probably a good thing.) Just remember to bring the layers for after the race.
Boston Buildup XXXVI Winter Series
Jan. 5, 19; Feb. 9; Mar. 2, multiple locations in Connecticut
Even if you’re not building up to the Boston Marathon this year, this is a great series to kick off your 2014 running goals. With each race date hosting a different distance in various Connecticut towns, this event offers something for every runner. Leave the headphones at home and experience a 10K, 15K, 20K or 25K (or all four!) with other competitors—just arrive early and prepare for limited race-exclusive facilities. (Businesses welcome runners with public restrooms.) For those rocking the 10K on Jan. 5, arrive at least an hour early; other races welcome runners at least 30 minutes early. ASICS long-sleeved tech tees will be awarded to the top overall winners in various categories who have not already won in a previous event—giving everyone a fair shot at taking the podium.
Cupid’s Undie Run
Feb. 15, Seattle
Clothing is not encouraged at this Valentine’s Day undie party. Freeze your buns off with hundreds of other revealing runners, and race to beat frostbite in uncomfortable places during this mile-long jaunt through the streets of Seattle. If the chance to show off those abs in a socially acceptable fashion—not punishable by law—isn’t enough, then revel in the fact that this nationwide series benefits The Children’s Tumor Foundation. Strip down for a cause—just remember to wear underwear at the start line. (Full nudity is discouraged, but that’s probably a good thing.)
Love ‘em or Leave ‘em Valentine’s Day Dash
Feb. 8, Seattle
Don’t sit at home, jaded and indulging in chocolate this February; spread the love instead at this Valentine’s dash held six days before the Hallmark holiday. Donning bib numbers that declare whether or not they’re “available,” runners will enjoy a taste of Seattle culture as they run the streets of Green Lake Park. Following the race, participants are invited to celebrate at the finish-line festival with tasty treats and exhibits. Add this event to the calendar—runners can fly solo or run as a team with a chosen Valentine. The race will run in San Francisco on Feb. 9 as well.
Polar Bear 10K and 5K
Jan. 11, Redmond, Wash.
If you can’t stand the heat, then embrace the cold at this year’s Polar Bear Fun Run. This family-friendly trek through the beautiful Dry Canyon of Redmond promises to be memorable for the entire crew. Every child receives a ribbon, and the top three finishers in each age group win an award. Following the finish, racers can warm up with hot cocoa and coffee (complimentary for race finishers!) while mingling with various health and fitness pros at the Wellness Expo. There’s no reason to deny your inner polar bear at this fun race—a perfect way to kick off the new year and wave goodbye to winter.
Cascade Half Marathon, 10K and 2 Mile
Jan. 19, Salem, Ore.
What is a better way to set your next PR than leaving all of your awkward junior high memories in the dust? The 15th annual Cascade Half Marathon begins at Cascade Junior High and explores the luscious farmland during a flat, paved, out-and-back course. To add to the race-day frenzy, the overall and master’s champs of the day will be awarded merchandise, compliments of New Balance and Gallagher Fitness. If you were strong enough to endure seventh grade, you’re set for success at this January event.
Avalon Benefit 50-Mile Run
Jan. 11, Avalon, Calif.
At 5 a.m., you can either continue sleeping or get up and burn approximately 5,000 calories while circumnavigating an island in an ultra-distance run. Choose the latter and find your inner beast as you take on this 50-mile jaunt around beautiful Santa Catalina Island off the coast of Dana Point. Runners get to experience the innate beauty of the flora and fauna native to this spectacular island while following a course free from the hustle and bustle of city life. The run benefits the Avalon Hospital, high school scholarships, Catalina Conservancy and the Bill Putnam Health Care Fund—plenty of good reasons to stomp some island ground. Grab a headlamp and a ferry pass and kick off 2014 with a bang!
Carlsbad Marathon and Half Marathon
Jan. 19, Carlsbad, Calif.
This is one of San Diego’s best events, one that highlights the stunning North County coastline and other undeniable reasons to visit Southern California. The course follows the oceanfront, hitting a maximum elevation of only 308 feet. Starting in Carlsbad and venturing into north Encinitas, the race starts and finishes near Carlsbad Village and all of its beachy shops and restaurants. Participants can enjoy the health and lifestyle expo to brush up on the latest in fitness gear and apparel at the finish. For those overachievers, this event is the first step in earning the coveted San Diego Triple Crown medal (which also includes the La Jolla Half Marathon in April and the AFC Half Marathon in August).
Surf City USA Marathon and Half Marathon
Feb. 2, Huntington Beach, Calif.
Considered one of the best half-marathon courses in the country, this event offers world-class views of Pacific Coast Highway and the Southern California coastline. Starting and finishing near the Waterfront Beach Resort, the race offers the full beach experience, with a finish-line festival next to the waves of the Pacific Ocean. For those who dig new race hardware and bragging rights, the surfboard “Maverick” medals are enough to make any out-of-towner swoon with SoCal-inspired excitement.
Mermaid Half Marathon
Feb. 8, San Diego
Discover Mission Bay and feel the offshore breeze under your fins as you cruise around Fiesta Island and finish in Tecolote Shores. Offering both 10K and 5K distances, the event is good for divas of all capabilities. The Mermaid Series embraces the “mermaid athlete” in every women—so grab a girlfriend or two and tackle this flat and fast course, good for runners and walkers alike. Don’t forget—packet pick-up is at Sports Authority in Carmel Mountain on Thursday, Feb. 6 and Mission Bay Hilton on Friday, Feb. 7.
Xterra Monte Sano Trail Run
Jan. 11, Huntsville, Ala.
If you’re itching to up your running ante from road to trail, 15K (or 5K) of rocky off-road terrain will do the trick at this Alabama race. The Xterra Monte Sano Trail Run is not for the faint of heart and promises a challenge for even the most cardio-ready trail runners. The course runs through Monte Sano State Park, and the rocky loop is sure to test your balance and agility. For those undeterred by the course demands, this race is the perfect fit for your adventurous side. The top three finishers in each category (determined by age) will receive a finisher medal—but be sure to stick around, as you must be present to win the bling.
Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon & 1/2 Marathon
Feb. 2, New Orleans
Mardi Gras comes early during this race, taking runners down beads-in-the-trees St. Charles Avenue. Revel in the sites, smells and sounds of the French Quarter—the beignets are calling your name! For those ambitious enough to tackle the full, experience a splendid tour of City Park and Lake Pontchartrain during those sometimes grueling last few miles. But all is worth it when you finish at Roosevelt Mall and spend the remaining hours exploring Bourbon Street.
Miracle Match Marathon
Jan. 26, Waco, Texas
It all started with one run-loving Waco firefighter who dreamed of hosting a race. The Miracle Match Marathon benefits the Scott & White Marrow Donor program that seeks to match donors with potential recipients. If the cause alone isn’t enough of a motivator, perhaps the finish-line fiesta will nudge your registration. There will be free margaritas, beer, wine, fajitas and live music waiting for you. All participants will receive a finisher medal designed by a stem cell donor and Waco Fire Department equipment operator. Run for a good cause and party like it’s 2014 at this event. Firefighter uniforms not required.
Rocky Raccoon 100/USA Trail Championships
Feb. 1, Huntsville, Texas
The Rocky Raccoon 100 doesn’t disappoint, with a course that trudges through the most beautiful Texas landscape. The weekend in Huntsville State Park will be one to remember, starting from your packet pick-up on Friday night to your early start Saturday morning. With a 30-hour time limit, this race requires a stellar nutrition plan and good all-night mental vibes. The idyllic course comprises five 20-mile loops on singletrack trails and jeep roads amid pine forests and the open fields of the state park. Doubling as the USA 100-Mile Trail Championships in 2014, this race, which offers a $1,000 first prize, will attract some of the country’s best trail runners.
Hearts and Soles 5K
Feb. 8, Decatur, Ga.
Put down the V-Day chocolate and come spread the love with your significant other (or maybe a significant run bud) during the Hearts and Soles 5K. To up the “cheesy” ante, dress to impress (and match) with your valentine and win a prize for best couple’s costume. There’s no better bonding experience than logging a few miles and exchanging sentimental encouragement with your sig other along the way—if even simply a gassed look of appreciation in their direction. Nothing brings two people closer than a pair of running shoes, bib numbers and sweaty smiles.
Melbourne Music Marathon Weekend
Feb. 1-2, Melbourne, Fla.
For the music buffs, this weekend event features 20 musical acts along the way. The scenic half marathon and marathon courses, around and across the Indian River, promise epic bridge crossings and views to entertain you all the way to the finish line. Each race includes a Super Bowl Sunday costume contest, post-race concerts and a Haribo Gummi Bear course stop. All participants will receive medals made from recycled metals, tech tees made from partially recycled materials and embroidered Melbourne Marathon hats. Come join this very sustainable race for memories that are just as long-lasting.
Hilton Head Marathon
Feb. 8, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Take a vacation and be part of history as you embark on the inaugural Hilton Head Island Marathon. The certified course will take you through a scenic array of parks, featuring beautiful creeks that provide babbling motivation and serenity along the course. Participants will receive a long-sleeved performance T-shirt, and top finishers will receive gift cards and additional runner prizes. The course is mostly flat and fast, so be prepared to break your personal bests and, if you’re fast enough, even set a course record. (No one has done it yet!) If you don’t want to run the full 26.2 miles, there’s also a half marathon and 5K option.
Cupid’s Undie Run
Feb. 15, Atlanta
Clothing is not encouraged at this Valentine’s Day undie party. Freeze your buns off with hundreds of other revealing runners, and race to beat frostbite in uncomfortable places during this mile-long jaunt through Atlanta. If the chance to show off those abs in a socially acceptable fashion—not punishable by law—isn’t enough, then revel in the fact that this nationwide series benefits The Children’s Tumor Foundation. Strip down for a cause—just remember to put on underwear at the start line. (Full nudity is discouraged, but that’s probably a good thing.)