For many runners, running races takes the fun out of running, especially for those who run for fun instead of competition. Indeed, running is often a solo sport in which you can compete against yourself, breaking your own time or distance in order to improve, so some runners may not feel the need to run in groups or take part in races.
Fortunately for the non-competitive runner, there are plenty of fun and quirky running races that don’t focus on who comes in first or last. Especially when running for charity, the most important factor is simply being there to take part in the event.
Following are some mellow running races—10K or less—for all levels that promise to be just as much fun as run. These races are also (mostly) low-key, so the entry fees tend to be lower, along with the pressure. Another added bonus is that many of these races do not take place during the summer months, when heat on pavement can really ruin a good run.
Most of these races are happening soon, in the remaining 2010 months, but I’ve included a few to keep in mind for 2011 as well.
Drop Your Drawers and Run Wild, August 27, 2010 – check next year
This fundraiser/race is hosted by Underwearness and takes place on Friday, August 27 at the Denver Zoo/City Park at 6:30 pm. Participants of all ages can do a 5K run or walk through City Park, or a 1-mile walk through the zoo. The running fee is $30 for all ages and the walk is $10 for kids under 13 and $20 for adults. Underwearness provides new underwear to children in need, and the proceeds from the race go to Denver public schools to assist homeless students. Participants are asked to bring a new package of children’s underwear to donate at the door, thus proverbially dropping their underwear. Racers who bring new underwear packages get the chance to win additional prizes, and all entry fees include admission to the zoo, which is open after-hours for the race.
Run for the Ferry, August 28, 2010 – check next year
Although this race is on the last Saturday of August, mid-day temperatures on Bowen Island in British Columbia will feel like fall. This race is a fundraiser for the Bowen Community Housing Association and is part of Bowfest, an annual event on the island. The race starts at the ferry terminal and provides a foot tour of scenic Bowen Island with both a 10K and 5K race for adults and a 1.5K race for kids. The $30 entrance fee (kids are $15) includes admission to Bowfest after the race, as well as a raffle ticket to win a Helijet trip for two. Competitive race runners can win cash prizes as well.
Cactus ChaCha Trail Runs, October 9, 2010
This course outside Avondale, Arizona parallels the White Tank mountains in a beautiful desert setting. The race starts early—7:15am—in order to beat the heat. Runners and hikers of all ages can enter the 3-mile Mini Cha Cha for $20 or the 7-mile Full ChaCha for $25. The entry fee includes a t-shirt, raffle ticket, goodie bag, parking, and a fiesta!
Run Like Hell, October 29, 2010
At 7:30 on the Friday night before Halloween, runners can compete in this Cincinnati 5K costume race to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The race course winds through a cemetery and at the finish line, the race turns into a costume party and contest. The $35 entry fee gets you a t-shirt and an extra ticket to the party afterward.
Thanksgiving Turkey Trail Trot, November 25, 2010
This annual race promises to be way more fun than run. And from the pictures on their website, it appears as though costumes are required. Their website also asserts that the Pilgrims landed at Seal Rocks off the shores of San Francisco, not Plymouth Rock. Racers in the 5-mile Turkey Trot (run) compete for prizes of food and wine, with an entry fee somewhere around $30 (TBA for 2010). Walkers take part in the Pilgrim Promenade 3-mile race, while kids compete in the Gobbler Chase. Events start at 8:15am in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on Thanksgiving day.
Fig Leaf 5K, April 2011
Don’t like costumes? How about a clothing optional race instead? This 5K race at the Paradise Valley Club optional clothing resort in Dawsonville, Georgia benefits the American Cancer Society. The race fee is $20 and includes a t-shirt, goodie bag, door prizes, and a day-pass to the resort after the race, including the Saturday night dance party. Clothing is optional, so racers are encouraged to wear as much or as little clothing as they are comfortable running in; however, nudity is required in the pools and tubs at the resort.
Skirt Chaser Race Series
This event was designed under the Skirt Sports mission that “fitness should be fun,” and replaced a previous female-only race promoting women to wear skirts while running. To get the men involved in the 5K competition, the women are given a 3-minute head start and then the men are invited to “chase” them. The winner, male or female, receives a $500 cash prize. Participants and encouraged to wear a skirt, but it is not required.