Looking to have some fun over the summer, enjoy the weather and get in shape? Running accomplishes all three. “But I’m not a runner,” you say. And that’s true for a lot of people. No matter how much they run, they don’t like it. I’m here to tell you to not knock it before you try it. From my experience, it takes a lot of effort and time before you start to enjoy yourself while running. The hardest part is keeping yourself motivated.
That’s why if you’re looking to either start running or continue running this summer and fall, signing up for a 5K race might just be the thing to do. A 5K race is 3.1 miles — the perfect distance to keep yourself in shape, yet not too daunting. While there are plenty of local 5K races, there are also some national 5K races that take fun to another extreme. Here are eight of the best 5K runs to sign up for this running season.
1. Dirty Girl Mud Run
I put this one first because I recently ran it! The Dirty Girl Mud Run is a typical 5K with a twist — you run through the mud to complete different obstacles and challenges. Some of my favorites from the event I attended were the rock climbing wall, the monkey bars, and military-crawling through a big vat of mud. It's not to be recommended if you like staying clean or you dislike fun. The cool thing about the Dirty Girl Mud Run is that it is an entirely women-only race. If you're looking for a friendly, non-competitive, and highly supportive environment for your first 5K, the Dirty Girl Mud Run might just be for you. The only con is that the tickets can be expensive — I paid $65 for mine. Check out their website here for more information.
2. Color Run
The Color Run is a 5K that has become very popular in recent years. Also known as the Happiest 5K on the Planet, the Color Run is unique because as runners run by certain stations, powdered paint is splashed onto them. Runners are encouraged to wear white t-shirts in order to create a nice tie-dyed souvenir to take home at the end of the race. There are many local and national varieties of the Color Run, but here is the website for the official Color Run.
3. Insane Inflatable 5K
The Insane Inflatable 5K was first thought of on the backs of napkins in a bar in Orlando. It's an untimed race in which every single obstacle is a huge inflatable. The part of this race that is most emphasized is having fun. Participants are encouraged to walk around obstacles that they don't feel comfortable completing, or to walk from obstacle to obstacle if they feel they cannot run. Basically, this run is like the best bouncy house at every five-year old's birthday party. Check it out here.
4. Blacklight Run
Along with the Color Run, the Blacklight Run and other varieties have become popular recently. Proceeds from the race go towards helping the Phoenix Children's Hospital fight childhood cancer and terminal illnesses. Contestants are splashed with special glowing powder that lights up under blacklight. The best part is that the Blacklight Run is the perfect run for beginners — it's an untimed, fun event for all. Read more about it on their website.
5. ROC Race
ROC stands for Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge, and those of you who have seen the game-show Wipeout will understand why. The ROC Race is based on Wipeout, where contestants have to tackle obstacles such as "the infamous Wrecking Ball, the menacing Sweeper, the hilariously challenging Jump Balls and of course, the Hippo — a towering four story tall water slide!"
The ROC Race has runs in many different locations and is available for people 13 years old and up. Learn more about it here.
6. Hot Chocolate 5K
The Hot Chocolate 5K is also a 15K in some cities across the United States. Basically, it's a race in which you receive all types of chocolate in different stations throughout the route. It is the official race of the Make-a-Wish foundation and is a great race to run if you appreciate chocolate in all its finest forms and want to put your money towards a good cause. At the beginning or end of the race, depending on which city you run in, you will receive a goody bag filled with all types of gluten-free dark chocolate, including hot chocolate and chocolate fondue. There's a reason why they call it America's Sweetest Race.
7. The Zombie Mud Run
This is your typical mud run except for one twist, which you could probably have guessed by the title: Zombies. It describes itself as follows:
"The Zombie Mud Run is a 5K obstacle Mud Run teeming with zombies infected with the living dead virus. The race course is complete with Army boot camp like obstacles that test your strength and endurance. You will come into contact with natural and man-made obstacles. Like all Mud Runs, you will need to climb walls and crawl in mud. To add an extra degree of challenge (and fun), we have added Zombies!"
The coolest thing about the Zombie Mud Run is that it's almost like an interactive story in which you can really pretend you are escaping from zombies. You can either be a human, racing to medical attention and safety, or you can be a zombie, looking to feast on human flesh. Either one involves lots of strength and agility. They also offer a Zombie Night Run for only $20 per person, in which you run at night. Unlike the rest of the 5K's on this list, the Zombie Mud Run is a little more intense and may require short bursts of sprinting and more strength to overcome the obstacles quickly. Here's the Zombie Mud Run website.