People participate in 5K runs for many reasons. They’re fun, challenging, healthy, and often times charitable. For some, running a 5K is a walk in the park. For others, it’s a challenge that takes weeks and sometimes even months to prepare for. Whether you’re a complete fitness freak who likes a good challenge, or someone just looking to have fun or give something back to your community, here are some awesomely fun 5Ks you should be looking out for.
1. The Color Run
Known far and wide as “Happiest 5K on the Planet,” The Color Run is, by far, one of the most popular 5K races in the world. And with more than 170 events in over 30 countries, it’s also one of the biggest. The “race” isn’t about competing or time trialing (in fact, it’s not timed at all), but about having fun and celebrating good health. Throughout the course of the race, participants are caked in a variety of colored paint powders, but the real fun doesn’t begin until after the race ends – with a celebratory Finish Festival, complete with music, dancing, and you guessed it, more colored powder.
To top it off? Despite their tax classification as a for-profit company, since The Color Run’s inception, the event organizers have donated over $3 million to various charity organizations all over the world.
2. The Spartan Race
To put it plainly, Spartan Races are not for the faint of heart. This high-intensity classic mud run isn’t about fun or charity, but challenge and endurance. The series consists of three-, eight-, 12-, and 26-mile treks, each filled with barbed wire crawls, mud pits, various wall climbs, rope climbs, spear throws, and even fire pit jumps. You won’t find any dance parties, beers, or chocolate fondue at the end of this run – just good old-fashioned gratification.
3. Walt Disney Marathon Weekend
This is the only entry on our list that isn’t a nationally sponsored event, but hey, at least it’s held at the place where dreams come true, and not where they apparently go to die. Rather than putting on a boring one-run show, Disney takes racing to a whole new level. The weekend is host to an array of competitions, including a 10K, a full 26-mile marathon, and kid’s races, along with a variety of parties and activities. The most popular event of the weekend is the Walt Disney World 5K family race, where families run together through Future World and International World, encountering all of their favorite Disney characters along the way. Centered on family fun, the race isn’t timed and welcomes everyone from seasoned veterans to beginners.
4. The Bacon Chase
Unlimited bacon. UNLIMITED BACON. UNLIMITED BACON. We feel like that’s all we need to say about this event, but for formality’s sake, we’ll elaborate. You run 3.1 miles (5K in miles) and eat bacon along the way. And then, at the end of the race, you eat more bacon. Unlimited bacon. That’s it. Oh, and they’ve also teamed up with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to raise money. You may both warm and stop your heart, all in one event!
5. Hot Chocolate 15/5K
This fun run, known as America’s sweetest race, takes place in 15 cities across the country, including San Diego, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Austin, and Nashville. The race is un-timed and open to anyone and everyone. Past participants give it bonus points for being exceptionally fun and well-organized. The Post Race Party is filled with music, a family-friendly kid zone, and of course, chocolate — so much chocolate. Each participant is given a finisher’s mug, filled with a heaping helping of chocolate fondue (with dippable items!) and a mug of hot chocolate. We’re not sure it’s the best post workout treat, but we print t-shirts for a living, so what do we know, anyway?
6. Warrior Dash
Like the Spartan Race, this 5K mud run is here to test your physical strength and endurance. One of the most popular marathon races in the country, the Warrior Dash boasts more than 2 million participants in its famous “battleground,” in six countries and on four continents. A big charity run, the Warrior Dash has raised over $10 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – a number almost as unbelievable as the featured obstacles, which include 12-foot rope climb walls, fire pits, mud pits, and more. But like The Color Run, the best part of this race is the after party, which includes live music, viking swag, beer, and humongous turkey legs!
7. Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge
More commonly known as the R.O.C. Race, this national event is billed as “the craziest 5K you will ever run,” and for good reason. This action-packed, obstacle-ridden run isn’t about endurance or hard work, but about wild and crazy fun for people of all skill and fitness levels. The only requirement is that you must be 13 years of age or older. The course, probably modeled after game shows like this (because Japan does game shows way better than we do), includes an abundance of wild obstacles like a Tarzan rope swing, a tire mile, jump balls, and the world’s largest moon bounce and water slide. Sounds more like a birthday party than a 5K race, to us!
The event’s organizers also work closely with the Challenged Athletes Foundation to help raise money to provide adaptive equipment, training, and competition expenses to injured veterans who wish to get involved in sports or competitive athletics.