Running alone outside or in the gym is satisfying for some, but many runners crave a bit of competition, motivation to train, or just some good old-fashioned fun. That's where summer road races come in, and there are plenty to sign up for all across the country. Here are 11 races with a unique spin to appeal to different types of runners.
11 of the Coolest Races for Runners This Summer
The Brewery Running Series is the perfect event for people who enjoy beer as much as exercise. Now run in Minnesota, Colorado, Illinois, and Oregon, these 5K fun runs and walks feature routes that wind through neighborhoods surrounding the sponsoring brewery, which provides free beer to participants after each race. Registration is $30, and portion of the proceeds from each run is donated to local nonprofit organizations.
Looking to exercise a bit before watching fireworks and grilling out on the Fourth of July? Atlanta holds the festive and massive Peachtree Road Race, which bills itself as the largest 10K race in the world. The race is so popular (hundreds of thousands of participants race every year) that registration is through a lottery and costs $38. If you’d rather observe the spectacle than run in such a large crowd, the race is currently accepting volunteers.
The Chicago area has no shortage of beautiful places to run, and road races are plentiful in the summer months. One that appeals to many is the Twilight 5K to be held Aug. 13 in suburban Lake Forest. The event is for runners and athletes of all kinds, regardless of physical ability, including racers in wheelchairs, the blind or visually impaired, and those with ambulatory disabilities. Registration is $35 through Aug. 1 and $40 after that. Volunteers are needed to monitor stations throughout the race, offering a free way to be part of the event.
The Strawberry Shortcake Shuffle in Damariscotta is a laid-back 5K race and 3-mile fitness walk for the whole family. Pre-registration for the 5K costs $22 and goes up to $30 for registration the day of the race. The fitness walk costs $15 for pre-registration, or $22 to register the day of the race. Proceeds go toward preventing child abuse, and the organizers provide free strawberry shortcake for all participants.
The Boston Marathon may be the most famous road race in Massachusetts, but it’s certainly not the only one. The Narragansett Summer Running Festival, hosted by Stonehill College, is being held July 16-17 and consists of a 5K, 10K, and half-marathon. Registration costs are $25, $30, and $59 respectively. And because it’s a festival, music, beer, and food are featured following each race.
Every Fourth of July, bright and early at 6:30 a.m., the city of Minneapolis hosts the Red, White & Boom Twin Cities Half-Marathon, Relay & 5K. The star-spangled race is festive and fun to run with friends or family, especially the relay option. The event includes local food vendors, music, a picnic, and games. Half-marathon registration costs $55, and the 5K is $30. The half-marathon relay is $110 for two participants.
This 5K race is all about the cause: raising money and awareness for brain cancer research. The Head for the Cure 5K, which is held in several major cities, is open to people ages 10 and up and features a kids' 100-yard dash for a $15 fee. Registration fees for adults are $30 to $40, depending on when participants sign up. Interested runners should register sooner rather than later to save on the cost of the fee.
The McCubbins Gulch Scramble isn't your typical race. Hosted in Bear Springs on Aug. 7, the 10K is an off-road scramble through the woods, with overnight camping before and after the race. Runners who crave a unique running experience and want to spend some extra time in nature may find this race is just the ticket. Registration is $30.
Christmas in July? You bet, with two 5K races sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation to raise money for arthritis research. Held on July 9 in North Pole, Alaska, and July 31 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the July Jingle Bell Runs give runners good reason to pull that Christmas sweater out of storage, don jingle bells for their shoelaces, and hit the road for a very merry run (or walk). Registration fees are $20 to $40 and vary with participant age and time of registration.
Many road races start early in the morning, so the Moonlight Run in Eagle River, Wisconsin, is unique for letting participants run the streets in the evening. A kids' fun run starts at 9 p.m., and the adult 5K starts at 10. There’s also a carnival beforehand with fun games and rides for families. Registration for the 5K costs $30, and the kids' run is $10. Proceeds from the registration fees will be donated to the Pines Community Wellness Center.
Anyone who loves running and beautiful scenery will be in heaven at the Run With the Horses Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 10K, where wild horses really do run near the course. Fees vary depending on race and registration date but start at $20 for 10K race registrations received by Aug. 1. The scenery alone is worth tagging along to the high desert to cheer friends and family participating in the race.
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