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If you told me as little as a few months ago that I’d be signing up for running events and races, I probably would’ve laughed in your face and said, “No way, Jose!” But lo and behold, I’ve just conquered my very first 10K run (that’s about 6.2 miles, in case anyone’s wondering), and I’m itching for more. Now I’m no Usain Bolt (in fact, I’m leagues away from being anywhere remotely close), but I’ve definitely caught the running bug. I really hated running before, until I realized it’s actually not about the running itself; it’s all about pushing yourself and feeling accomplished after putting in your best effort.
Have an aversion to running? Now is the perfect time to give it a second try (or third or forth or fifth). With mp3 players, pedometers, the internet, and recreational racing events, it’s a lot easier to find the support you need in order to get fit through running. Personally, how I started was through a friend convincing me to do a 5K mud run with her in the fall. I began practicing at a local track and slowly got better and better. I’m not going to lie, starting out after 6 years of not running was pretty difficult, but it was all worth it. The benefits of running are vast, and one of those benefits is having fun. I’m serious! To prove it, here are some of the most popular and fun races around the country. Prepare to be intrigued!
1) Disneyland Half Marathon – This year from August 30th to September 1st, Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California will be hosting the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend. They’re calling it the Happiest Race on Earth, and it’ll be part of an entire weekend of magical courses and special events. Participants get to run along Main Street, USA, through Disney California Adventure Park, and then on to the streets of Anaheim.
2) The Original Mud Run – Hosted in Nashville on May 4th and Houston on May 25th, this is a run full of military style obstacle courses, mud, and more mud. There is a competitive division as well as a “fun run” division, where participants are encouraged to bring crazy costumes (that won’t impede their physical ability to complete the race, of course). Don’t worry, as intense as it may sound, I guarantee it’s twice the fun. Luckily for those who don’t live in Tennessee or Texas, there are other mud runs around the nation. Just check the web for one near you.
3) The Color Run – The happiest 5K on the planet, the Color Run is held in major cities around the nation, including San Francisco, Columbia, Atlanta, Dallas, Baton Rouge, St. Louis, and more. This unique experience is all about crazy color fun with friends and family. Participants wear white shirts at the start, and by the finish line, everyone is plastered in color. Runners come from all different ages, shapes, sizes, and speeds, so there’s no pressure to beat the clock. All you have to do is enjoy the run and make the memories last.
4) Zombie Run – With zombies becoming so popular these days, you can find a zombie run almost anywhere near you. There’s a Zombie Run in Vermont, Orlando, Gulfport, and Western Michigan, as well as Philadelphia. One of the most popular ones is called Run For Your Lives, and it will be hosted in various regions of the U.S., including South Florida, Northern California, Ohio, and Texas. Basically, you have to face obstacles while fleeing from zombies and make it to the finish line with your brain intact. In some of the events, participants can even register as the zombies and get special training on how to be a zombie. Afterwards, everyone lets loose at the Apocalypse Party.
5) Hot Chocolate 15/5K – Coined as America’s Sweetest Race, this event was established in Chicago, Illinois. Now it’s all over the country, with the closest date on March 3rd in Seattle and the following on March 24th in San Diego. The Hot Chocolate 15/5K is partnered up with Ronald McDonald House Charities. Participants get to enjoy a post race party where they receive mugs filled with hot chocolate, chocolate fondue, and other tasty treats, as well as a goodie bag. Sounds like a sweet deal to me!
What more motivation do you need to get moving on a track, treadmill, or trail? Exciting events like these races give you goals to work toward, and you can set these goals with friends and family for a greater, fulfilling experience. All it takes is the desire and determination to try something new and to challenge your mind and body. Just take a look at this runner…if he can do it, so can you!