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48 Must-Do Dec./Jan. Races Across The U.S.

Find a fun winter race in your neck of the woods!

Pac-West Region

Run or Dye San Francisco
Dec. 14; San Francisco & San Diego
www.runordye.com/

Embrace your bright personality and flair with this nationwide color run series, which hits San Francisco and San Diego on the same day in December. (Those are two of a dozen Run or Dye events planned in California in 2014.) With every kilometer comes a different shade of corn starch, but nothing trumps the finish-line rave, where every participant can rip into their own personal packet of color and toss it into the air. Kids six and under get to enjoy the rainbow for free, so bring the whole family and enjoy a untimed 5K event sure to satisfy the whole clan.

Summit Rock Half Marathon, 10K and 5K
Dec. 14; Saratoga, Calif.
brazenracing.com/summitrock.html

Experience the California Redwoods right outside of Silicon Valley and run 13.1 lush miles on singletrack trails through Sanborn County Park. This beginner-friendly event has something for everyone: experience trail runners will appreciate the new scenery and perfect trail system, and novice trail runners can ease into the new community with easy-to-navigate courses. Aid stations along the course will provide traditional refuel options, as well as candy and pretzels.

Hot Buttered Run 10K
Dec. 22; San Diego
energyevents.com/sandiegohotbutteredrun

The rumors are true—hot buttered rums will be provided at the finish line of this 10K event. Combine a love for Southern California sunshine and Christmas spirit at this San Diego event, where the finish shoot is lined with Christmas trees and the backdrop has an island feel to it. If you need a little extra inspiration to get to the start line, check out the local Team Challenge chapter and join their “Lite” program, complete with six weeks of training and guaranteed raise entry—and all is “costs” is $250 in fundraising to get you there!

Brazen New Year’s Eve Half Marathon, 10K and 5K
Dec. 28; East Bay, Calif.
brazenracing.com/newyearseve.html

Despite its name, this event lands three days before New Year’s Eve, giving runners a chance to recover and regain energy to ring in 2014. With three distance options, runners of all ability levels are invited to tackle the trails and roads of Castro Valley. Feeling extra ambitious? Come back for the second half marathon on New Year’s Day and brag to your friends that it took you two years to complete one full marathon. If they do not believe you, the Brazen New Year Mega-Medal is plenty of proof.

Woodside Trail Runs
Dec. 29; Woodside, Calif.
pctrailruns.com/event.aspx?dtid=9966

Avid trail runners will appreciate the four distance options (10K, 17K, 35K, 50K) at this classic northern California trail event—where there’s something for everyone. Experience the coastal redwoods, lush ferns and babbling brooks on this woodsy course as you venture through Kings Mountain, Bear Gulch and Wunderlich Park. This event offers T-shirt choices, between Patagonia, Sport-Tek and cotton choices. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, score a custom event coaster after you complete the ultramarathon distance.

New Year’s Race Half Marathon and 5K
Jan. 4; Los Angeles
newyearsrace.com

Come experience the glam of New Year’s Eve in one of the most glamorous Southern California cities—the city of angels. Los Angeles will be lit up at the ring of the New Year as 13.1-mile runners soak in the midnight lights of the city. The finish line highlights the new L.A. Live complex and leads participants through the hottest areas of LA. Don’t forget to check the elevation chart—a gradual climb challenges racers beginning at mile 2.

Northeast Region

Santa–Will Run For Beer
Dec. 14; Bethlehem, Pa.
runlehighvalley.com/races/run-santa-run

Santa (Mrs. Claus for the ladies) attire is required for this “un-5K” event, aka bar crawl, that serves as Run Lehigh Valley’s year-end event. “Runners” start at 12 p.m. and end at 3 p.m. at the same bar—but the order they hit up the locations in between is up to each drinking beard. For those super speedy chuggers, each bar will offer free beer to the first 20 jolly men (or women) in red suits to flag down the bartender. Prizes will be awarded to the best Santa costumes, and yes, there will be an after-party after the “race.”

Ladies Night Out: Run, Wine and Chocolate
Dec. 14; Newburyport, Mass.
bnseventmanagement.com/events/LadiesNightNewburyport.html

Boasting a 3 p.m. start time, this event is a perfect way to kick off a holiday evening with the ladies. The registration fee includes all-you-can-eat finish-line chocolate and wine—no wonder it caps at 400 participants. Handsome gentlemen are at the red-carpet finish line, ready to congratulate, pose and greet with an accolade of flowers. Sorry guys—this is strictly a ladies-only event. There is, however, the chance to nominate the man in your life at a finish-line volunteer, allowing him to greet you as you cruise through with your girlfriends.

Jingle Bell Half Marathon
Dec. 14; Atkinson, N.H.
jinglebellhalf.com

An inaugural event in the Northeast region, this half marathon has a single-loop, USATF-certified course, running on rolling, rural back roads that showcase the beautiful back country of Atkinson. Tired of traditional electrolyte rest stops? This festive event features a hot cocoa stop to get you through the last few chilly miles. Hosted by the Atkinson Resort and Country Club, the event’s after-party takes place in the resort ballroom, complete with soup, hot cocoa and, of course, beer.

Somerville Jingle Bell Run 5K
Dec. 15; Somerville, Mass.
baevents.com/jinglebell/

Put a little extra jolly in your stride with the 7th annual Somerville Jingle Bell Run 5K, which has sold out in the six previous years. The course starts and finishes in the same location, taking runners on a loop around Davis, Teele, Ball and Magoun Squares. Finishers are equipped with a bottle opener medal—making post-race celebrations a must. Speedsters in each division do not need to be present to claim their prize—awards will be mailed out to all winners after the event, giving you plenty of time to try out your “medal.”

NYRR Midnight Run Presented by Emerald Nuts 4M
Dec. 31; New York City
nyrr.org

Just as the name suggests, the race kicks off the New Year with the first sound of fireworks at 12 a.m.—technically in 2014. But the Dec. 31 party starts with dancing at 10 p.m., followed by a costume contest at 11 p.m.  The 4-mile course starts and finishes in the same location near the 72nd Street Tranverse in Central Park, with cash awards for top-3 male and female finishers. Are you in it to break the course record? Cash is awarded to that ambitious runner as well.

The Cock-a-Doodle-Shoe
Jan. 18; Saranac, N.Y.
cockadoodleshoe.com

Sporting 5K and 10K distances, this snowshoe race is a regional qualifier for the U.S. National Snowshoe Championships on March 1 in Bennington, Vt.. Covering rolling trails throughout the 287-acre New Land Trust area, this event benefits its host: The New Land Trust, which is dedicated to maintaining the property for health and public use. The races are presented by DION Snowshoes, a Vermont snowshoe manufacturer that will offer demo models for new racers. But register early—this event is limited to 100 eager participants. Prizes will be available to winning runners after the event concludes, so you have the chance to walk away with more than snow-soaked smiles.

South Region

Run For Your Lives Austin
Dec. 7; Austin, Texas
runforyourlives.com

Halloween doesn’t have to stop in October—grab a friend and run for your life as zombies chase you through obstacles, mud and even blood. Obstacles are challenging but doable with a little added teamwork. Complete with a human blood pit, creepy smokehouse and maze of horrors, this race for survival will challenge your will to live. For the brave souls that make it through the 3.1-mile journey, there is an Apocalypse Party waiting for your at the finish line, complete with games, food, drinks and live entertainment.

Deck the Trails 5K & Fun Run
Dec. 14; Coppell, Texas
runproject.org/race/deck-trails

Explore the new trails of Coppell Nature Park with this 3.1-mile off-road holiday trek. All finishers receive a tasty cupcake from Frost Cupcakery—a perk that is sure to satisfy post-run munchies and holiday-season cravings. Age-group and overall awards will be given at the finish line, so don’t forget to wear your official timing chip as you kick up trail dust. Deck the Trails is part of a nine-race series in North Texas, hosted by the Run Project, whose goal is to keep it local and charitable by supporting local nonprofits in every market.

Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis
Dec. 14; The Woodlands, Texas
arthritis.org/programs-events/jingle-bell-run

‘Tis the season to give back, so why not get your jingle on and raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation this holiday season? With events all over the country, the Jingle Bell Run makes it easy and accessible for supporters all over the nation to put their bells together and run (or walk) for a great cause. The website provides all the information you need—including fundraising tips! The event takes places in Northshore Park and even includes a 1-mile Snowman Shuffle for those who want to take it easy after feasting on holiday eats.

Run or Dye Arlington
Dec. 14; Arlington, Texas
runordye.com

Embrace your bright personality and flair with this nationwide color run series, which hits Arlington mid-December. (There are more than 10 Run or Dye events planned in Texas in 2014.) With every kilometer comes a different shade of corn starch, but nothing trumps the finish-line rave, where every participant can rip into their own personal packet of color and toss it into the air. Kids six and under get to enjoy the rainbow for free, so bring the whole family and enjoy a untimed 5K event sure to satisfy the whole clan.

Ugly Sweater Run Memphis
Dec. 21; Memphis, Tenn.
Theuglysweaterrun.com

Remember that hideous garb you swore you would never wear? Now is the time to dig up your ugliest threads and get moving at this 3.1-mile run. But don’t worry—this race offers two free beers at the finish line, so you can drown your sweater-induced embarrassment. Electrolyte stations are replaced with hot cocoa cups along the course, and prizes will be awarded in a plethora of categories—best and worst ‘stache, best beard and best and worst sweaters. Round up some friends and snap a photo of yourself in your aunt’s worst Christmas gift—it’s just proof that there’s a time and place for, literally, everything.

Houston Running Festival
Dec. 28; Houston
50statesmarathonclub.com/houston100.html

If you want options, this festival has plenty of them. Join Houston runners and register for the 100-mile, 100K, 50-mile, 50K, marathon or half marathon events. If you’re more of a time person and feel like running for 12 or 24 hours straight, challenge yourself and see how many 2.01-mile loops you complete before time is up. All distances cover the same loop—so don’t get dizzy. The 100-mile finishers will receive a custom-designed belt buckle; other distances receive a unique medal once they cross the finish line. 12- and 24-hour conquers receive a plaque for their efforts. Bring different clothing options—temps range between 50-70 degrees during these long-haul events.

Northwest Region

Holiday Half Marathon and 5K
Dec. 15; Portland, Ore.
foottraffic.us/holiday

This out-and-back course starts and finishes at the Adidas North America campus—and includes carolers along the Willamette Blvd. portion of the course. You will get a truly unique experience of North Portland, as this is the only race that stays exclusively within that region, offering great views of the forested bluffs on either side of the Willamette River.. Don’t forget to join your fellow participants for a post-race brew, soup, hot chocolate and egg nog—a perfect way to celebrate this endurance accomplishment and ring in the holidays.

Eugene Holiday Half Marathon & Hustle 10K and 5K
Dec. 21; Eugene, Ore.
eugeneholidayhalf.com

This race caters to those late holiday family nights with its 10 a.m. start time. The out-and-back course covers the Fern Ridge Path in Eugene—all three distances stay on this path. Although shirts are not included in the race entry fee, awards will be given to the top-three overall finishers, as well as the top-three finishers in each age group. Festive costumes are encourage—all three races also offer prizes for the most appropriately dressed holiday runners.

Sweater Dash 5K
Dec. 14; Seattle
thesweaterdash.com/locations/seattle

Show off your runner enthusiasm this holiday season with a custom race ornament at this ugly sweater 5K event. All participants also receive a custom race bib, mason jar and post-race holiday celebration, complete with apple cider. To avoid an added charge, plan to pick up your race packet on Friday; runners are able to pick up for friends as long as they provide an ID. Santa will be present at the event—bring the kids to sit on his lap and ride the kiddie rides at the finish line.

The 12Ks of Christmas Holiday Run
Dec. 15; Kirkland, Wash.
promotionevents.com/12Ks/12K_RaceDay.htm

Offering a 12K, 5K and free 1K for the little ones, this event has got it all—including 30 plus vendors at the finish line expo. Runners start and finish at Marina Park, which is just is just a few feet from the Grape Choice Winter Warmer Wine Garden, the host of for any 21 and over runners who wish to taste seasonal brews and spiced wines. This is a no-excuses event—with a free event for the kids, wine for the adults and exhibitors to cater to every runner, what more could you ask for?

First Run 2014
Dec. 31; Beaverton, Ore.
aasportsltd.com/events/race/first-run-walk/

If banging pots and pans isn’t your thing at midnight, ring in the New Year with a 5K through the streets of Beaverton. Pre-party with thousands of other runners starting at 10 p.m. at the World Trade Center—perks include, drink, food, live entertainment and plenty of late-night photo ops. But be sure to register by Dec. 18—T-shirts are only guaranteed to those early bird runners who commit to their first 2014 run before that date.

White River Snowshoe Race 8K and 4K
Jan. 19; Mt. Hood, Ore.
xdogevents.com/whiteriverss.php

Dubbed “the largest, oldest and FUN-est snowshoe in the west” according to the website, this event welcomes participants of all levels—no experience necessary. The 8K distance makes a narrow loop as it ventures through White River Canyon. The 4K distance is a smaller version of the full loop and serves as a qualifier for the junior race at the U.S. National Snowshoe Championships on March 1 in Bennington, Vt., Each race has a significant climb as well as plenty of rolling terrain. Comprising the two largest snowshoe events in the Northwest, more than 200 participants are expected in 2014.

Mountain West Region

Sally Meyerhoff 5K
Dec. 14; Tempe, Ariz.
Run4sally.com

Sally Meyerhoff, an accomplished runner on her way to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, died tragically after a car struck her during a bike ride in 2011. Today, the Sally Meyerhoff Foundation, dedicated to assisting various run groups financially, will host this 5K in Sally’s honor. Supporters are encouraged to hang out for a long time after, enjoying Sally stories and meeting other advocates for the cause. Sally holds a multitude of impressive records and PRs—including the four-year-old American 10-mile road record (54:38, which was broken by Janet Bawcom last April).

Ugly Sweater Run Las Vegas
Dec. 21; Las Vegas
theuglysweaterrun.com

Remember that hideous garb you swore you would never wear? Now is the time to dig up your ugliest threads and get moving at this 3.1-mile run. But don’t worry—this race offers two free beers at the finish line, allowing runners to drown their sweater-induced embarrassment. Electrolyte stations are replaced with hot cocoa cups along the course, and prizes will be awarded in a plethora of categories—best and worst ‘stache, best beard and best and worst sweaters. Round up some friends and snap a photo of yourself in your aunt’s worst Christmas gift—it’s just proof that there’s a time and place for, literally, everything.

Christmas Carol Classic 10K, 5K and Tiny Tim 1K
Dec. 21; Denver
runningguru.com/EventInformation.asp?eID=ccc2013

Give the gift of giving by joining hundreds of runners at this 3rd annual Denver event, which supports the Denver Children’s Hospital with donations. Carolers, dressed in attire straight from Dickens’ closet, warm up their vocal cords and begin singing at 7:45 to keep off the celebration. Participants also enjoy a sea of hot cocoa, coffee and cider—but the holiday cheer is not complete until Santa Claus shows up to snap some shots with runners along the course. Don’t forget to dress in your best red and green attire—prizes are awarded to the most festive costumes.

New Year’s Resolution 5K
Dec. 31; Denver
resolution5k.com

Get a jump on your fitness and racing goals for 2014 by ending this year with a flurry. This popular end-of-the-year 5K in Washington Park brings out a wide range of runners, from first-timers to speedy veterans. The races starts at 5 p.m., which gives you plenty time to get cleaned up for whatever New Year’s Eve festivities you plan to attend later in the evening. But you might want to start your revelry at the post-race party at Denver South High School, adjacent to the park, immediately following the race.

Swift Skedaddle Snowshoe Adventure 5K, 10K
Jan. 25; Silverthorne, Colo.
silverthorne.org/index.aspx?page=228

Dubbed one of the most scenic and challenging snowshoe races in Colorado, this 10K is a qualifier for the U.S. National Snowshoe Championships on March 1 in Bennington, Vt. (The 5K does not serve as a qualifier.) Be prepared—some of both courses may encounter wildlife, including moose. (The race website provides tips on how to interact with said wildlife.) All registrants receive an event T-shirt, raffle ticket and post-race lunch. Awards are offered to the top finishers in each age group.

The Yeti Chase 10K and 5K
Jan. 26, Lakewood, Colo.
racingunderground.com

Need a mid-winter race to maintain your fitness? These 5K and 10K races on the outskirts of Denver wander over flat and rolling trails through 2,500-acre Bear Creek Lake Park. Given unpredictable weather along the Front Range, race conditions could be snowy and slow, or they could be dry as a bone and super fast. Every runner gets a technical T-shirt, and there’s hot chocolate, an array of food and a huge prize giveaway at the post-race party. There is no race-day registration, partially because the races sell out weeks in advance.

Midwest Region

Hot Chocolate 15K and 5K
Dec. 14; St. Louis
hotchocolate15k.com/stlouis

Satisfy your sweet tooth with the chocolate-filled 15K (or 5K), where chocolate flows freely at the expo and finish line. (Can you say fondue?) The first three age-group finishers will receive an award at the finish line, and all participants will receive a custom race fleece hoodie to keep you warm as you sip on some post-race hot cocoa. The St. Louis race benefits Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC)—all participants help give back to the families and children of RMHC simply by participating and enjoying some holiday sweets.

Rudolph Ramble 8K & Donner Dash
Dec. 15; Chicago
fleetfeetchicago.com/rudolph-ramble-8k-event-18.php

Hang out with your favorite reindeer at this holiday event, which offers up retro knit ski beanies to every registered participant. The Donner Dash is for children ages 2-12 and provides three distance options (depending on age). For those ambitious parents and older siblings, the 8K starts at 8 a.m. and runs through Lincoln Park. All runners and spectators are invited to make spirits bright with a toy donation to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Festive holiday attire is expected and encouraged.

5th Annual Reindeer Run 5K
Dec. 15; Minooka, Ill.
ellishec.com/fivek.php

Bring a change of clothes in your gear bag—this race promises to get runners dirty along its limestone trails and dirt footpaths of the Ellis House and Equestrian Center. Change into cleaner clothes before attending the post-race indoor awards ceremony, complete with age-group awards and refreshments. But set those race-day alarms extra early—packet pick-up is only offered race morning, beginning at 7 a.m. All race proceeds go back to Kendall County, ensuring the area stays clean and healthy for its residents.

Life Time Commitment Day Run
Jan. 1; Chicago
commitmentday.com/Chicago

Start 2014 off right with this New Year’s Day 5K event, dedicated to starting a nationwide conversation about healthy lifestyles. Runners in more than 20 U.S. locations will hit the streets of their cities and commit to a year of healthy living and fitness. Don’t forget to check out the social media coverage of the event’s mission—search #commitmentday and #mycommitment on social media to see how other dedicated runners are kicking off their New Year in honor of health, fitness and happiness.

29th Annual New Year’s Day 5K
Jan. 1; Chicago
chicagoevents.com/event.cfm?eid=88

Nothing beats tradition this New Year’s Day, with a 5K celebrating 29 years of inspiration and dedication to health. Enjoy a quick 3.1-mile journey through Lincoln Park, which finishes at the North Avenue Field House and ventures to O’Brien’s Restaurant for post-race awards and alcoholic beverages. Never fear—the race organizers are accommodating to those late-night NYE festivities with a late 11 a.m. race start time. Continue the midnight countdown throughout the day and celebrate the first day of 2014 with 1,500 other eager participants.

Moose Tracks Snowshoe Race
Jan. 5; Minocqua, Wis.
minocquawinterpark.org/

Celebrating its second year, this snowshoe race invites athletes to experience a Wisconsin winter in its entirety. 10K and 5K distances are offered, with a 1K race available for the younger snowshoe rompers. This event is a regional qualifier for the U.S. National Snowshoe Championships on March 1 in Bennington, Vt. Five race classes are available, catering to all types of participants. Awards are given to the top finishers in each class, as well as in 10-year age increments for the open classes.

Mid-Atlantic Region

Ugly Sweater Run
Dec. 14; Charleston, W.V.
Dec. 21; Washington, D.C.
theuglysweaterrun.com

Remember that hideous garb you swore you would never wear? Now is the time to dig up your ugliest threads and get moving at this 3.1-mile run. But don’t worry—this race offers two free beers at the finish line, allowing runners to drown their sweater-induced embarrassment. Electrolyte stations are replaced with hot cocoa cups along the course, and prizes will be awarded in a plethora of categories—best and worst ‘stache, best beard and best and worst sweaters. Round up some friends and snap a photo of yourself in your aunt’s worst Christmas gift—it’s just proof that there’s a time and place for, literally, everything.

GORUCK DC Challenge
Dec. 14; Washington, D.C.
goruck.com

Created by an ex-Special Forces soldier, GORUCK events are races that simulate the journey of military in combat through a challenge obstacle-filled course and special tasks throughout the event. The GORUCK Challenge is one of several different types of pseudo-military events on the series calendar in the Mid-Atlantic. This is a team event, not an individual race, where the hardest part is just to register. Participants can register as individuals, and they will be placed with 29 other brave souls, comprising their 30-person team. With a special operations cadre keeping you in check the entire way, the goal is to get all 30 participants across the finish line to earn the GORUCK Tough patch.

Seashore Nature Trail 50K
Dec. 21; Virginia Beach, Va.
tidewaterstriders.com/seashore50K

Running along the beautiful trails of First Landing State Park, this course only covers one mile total of road surfaces. Most of the terrain is flat as it sends runners through plush forests, expansive views and various ecosystems. This 50K will celebrate its fifth birthday this year, and those participants who will complete all five races receive a commemorative award at the finish line. Noted as one of the fastest trail courses in the country, this event has sold out the last two years, so register early.

12Ks of Christmas Holiday Run
Dec. 14; Washington, D.C.
dcrunningclub.com

Celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas with a kilometer for each day. Since the weather outside might be frightful, this 12K and 5K race offers long-sleeve tech shirts for all finishers, along with egg nog and hot cider for those itching for a complete holiday experience. The race benefits W.H.A.L.E.R’s Creation Christmas Dinner, hosted for foster and adopted children to give them an opportunity to enjoy the holidays with friends and family.

Frozen Sasquatch Trail 50K and 25K
Jan. 4 Kanawha State Forest, W.V.
wvmtr.org/events/frozen-sasquatch-trail-50k25k

The West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners host this annual trail race, cruising through the best trails of Kanawha State Forest. The loop course (50K tacklers do the loop twice) makes it easy to navigate the start and finish lines, and the updated 2013 course map has promised to lessen the “bottleneck” consequences of a crowded start line. Limited to 200 runners, the field is intimate, and T-shirts are guaranteed to the first 150 people to register and pick up their shirt. This event makes the long drive well worth it, with a finish-line feast of hot BBQ, soup, coffee, cocoa and other warming delights.

Fairmont Run to Read Half Marathon
Jan. 5; Fairmont, W.V.
runningintheusa.com/r2rhm

This winter rendezvous caters to the cold West Virginia winter weather with a 2 p.m. start time and gloves and knit hats awarded to the first 400 finishers. Running through Prickett’s Fork State Park, the course is USATF-certified and runs along the Mon River Trail for its final miles—a path made of crushed limestone. All proceeds benefit the Literacy Volunteers of Marion County, which provides free tutoring to children and adults in a variety of subjects. And if that isn’t enough incentive, there’s always the hot chili waiting across the finish line.

Southeast Region

Pretty Muddy
Dec. 7, Lakeland, Fla.
Dec. 14; Miami
prettymuddywomensrun.com

Believe it or not—this lovely series was started by two businessmen and inspired by their hardworking wives. So ladies, let your hair down and enjoy a fun-filled 5K mud run with a girlie twist—no boys allowed. With plenty of mud to go around, this 3.1-mile girlfriend getaway boasts architectural obstacles, better than the traditional hay barrels and shaky plywood obstacles found in other novelty events. Don’t forget to stick around for the epic finish line party, complete with food, drinks, music and other live entertainment.

GORUCK Challenge
Dec. 14; St. Augustine, Fla.
goruck.com

Created by an ex-Special Forces soldier, GORUCK events are events that simulate the journeys of military in combat through a challenge obstacle-filled course and special tasks throughout the event. The GORUCK Challenge is one of several different types of pseudo-military events on the GORUCK calendar in the Southeast region. This is a team event, not an individual race, where the hardest part is just to register. Participants can register as individuals, and they will be placed with 29 other brave souls, comprising their 30-person team. With a special operations cadre keeping you in check the entire way, the goal is to get all 30 participants across the finish line to earn the GORUCK Tough patch.

South Florida Fair 5K
Dec. 28; West Palm Beach, Fla.
southfloridafair.com/5KRun

Registration fees pay for more than 3.1 miles—sign up for this annual event and earn free admission into the South Florida Fair Jan. 17-Feb. 2. Participants also receive a quick power-up breakfast before the race as well as the usual round up of racer goodies: a T-shirt, goodie bag, post-race snacks, finisher’s medal and an excuse to run off the holiday weight. The race begins and ends in beautiful Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach—there’s no better excuse to get out and experience winter Florida sunshine!

Pier to Pier 5K Beach Run
Jan. 4; Pompano Beach Fla.
pier2pier5kbeachrun.com

A new year brings new races, and this one is sure to return for many years to come. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Pompano Beach’s incorporation, this event will take runners through the history of South Florida, finishing in beautiful Lauderdale by the Sea near world-famous Anglin’s Fishing Pier. Racers will be timed and required to wear bibs; however, it is up to the individual to “self seed,” or place themselves among similar ability levels at the start line. This event is “bandit proof”—all participants must wear clearly visible bibs in order to record an accurate finish time.

Rock the New Year Half Marathon, 10K and 5K
Jan. 5; Snellville, Ga.
deborahmontgomeryracing.com

Start 2014 off with a rockin’ bang at Snellville’s half-marathon event through Lenor Park, where all courses stay on a wide, paved, looped course around the area. Half marathoners will complete five loops, 10K runners two loops and 5K participants one loop. Deborah Montgomery Racing hosts the event—among others throughout the year—keeping it small and allowing runners to experience the friendly atmosphere of racing. None of the courses are USATF-certified, but they are accurate in their measurements and provide runners with a perfect tune-up opportunity leading into the New Year.

South Florida Mud Run
Jan. 11; Punta Gorda, Fla.
southfloridamudrun.com

Get muddy for a cause with this two-year-old event—100% of the race proceeds will go toward building the new children’s hospital tower, making it one big worthy fundraiser. Comprising a 3-mile foot race for the parents and a mini mudder for the kiddies, this dirty party is sure to muddy up some smiles and leave participants hungry for more. What’s more? You can embrace a little country twang after visiting the venue: The Red Neck Yacht Club.