6 Holiday Fun Runs Around the U.S.

Molly Hurford
by Molly Hurford
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6 Holiday Fun Runs Around the U.S.

The holidays are about spending time with family and friends. While it’s likely a given that we’ll overindulge at some point, we can also redefine how we spend time with loved ones. Running a race together is bound to be more memorable than an eggnog toast. Better yet: Run first and celebrate later.

Here are a few holiday fun runs that you can do with friends and family and be festive and sporty at the same time.

8th Annual Holiday in Lights 5K Run/Walk
When: November 16
Where: Sharonville, Ohio
Be aware that this early holiday race is a nighttime one, but don’t expect it to be too dark, because the Sharon Woods Holiday in Lights 5K is fittingly named and well-lit. Frankly, you might have trouble speeding through the course because you’ll want to stop and enjoy the lights in the last mile. The course winds through beautiful Sharon Woods and finishes with a picturesque and spirited run through all kinds of holiday light displays at dusk. Running in costume gives you the chance to win bonus prizes, so come prepared!

12K’s for the Holidays Charity Run
When: November 19
Where: Jackson, Mississippi
Forget the 12 days of Christmas. We’re excited for the 12K’s of holiday running in the beautiful Fondren District of Jackson, Mississippi. In addition to the very merry 12K (roughly 7.5 miles), there’s a 5K run/walk. The race is a fundraiser for The Good Samaritan Center, which has been helping families in crisis for 40 years, so that means you’re doing a good deed as you’re churning out those miles. Bonus: Holiday costumes are welcome, and the best ones will be rewarded.

38th Annual Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run 5K and 10K
When: December 10
Where: Santa Monica, California
If holiday running — and a potential PR — are serious business for you, opt for this race. The 5K is fast and fun, and it starts right at the Santa Monica Beach on Barnard Way. Both routes will have racers running south from Santa Monica, down the famed Venice Boardwalk, and winding through Venice. It’s a true Christmas in California. (Read: You can jump in the ocean after!) Not a bad idea if you’re craving warm weather.

Jingle Bell Rock 5K
When: December 11
Where: Santa Cruz, California
While Santa Cruz is further north than Santa Monica, Christmas in California still means it’s shorts weather for the run. Regardless of the balmy temperatures, the Jingle Bell Rock 5K — in its seventh year — is full of holiday cheer. Bring a toy for Toys for Tots, and then crush your 5K PR along the San Lorenzo River Levee. Last year, more than 800 toys were donated, and the goal this year is to hit 1,000 toys.

Holiday Half and 5K
When: December 11
Where: Portland, Oregon
The biggest race of the season is capped at 4,000 participants in Portland, and the race fills up every year. It’s epic popularity is probably because participants in the half-marathon and the 5K receive massive Christmas ornament medals, as well as excellent food and beer from Deschutes Brewery. That’s all after an amazing flat race through downtown Portland that might let you snag that 13.1 PR, thanks to cooler temperatures and a course designed for speed. Runners will be cheered on by carolers along the course, and there are holiday costumes galore!

The National Ugly Sweater Run Series
When: Holiday season
Where: Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and Washington, D.C.
If you live in a major city, and you happen to have an ugly Christmas sweater in your closet, you’ll want to bust it out and hop into one of the Ugly Sweater Runs happening all over the country. It’s always a 5K, and the antics go far beyond sprinting to victory in a reindeer-encrusted sweater. Organizers promise: “Take the best holiday photo of the year, shoot marshmallow guns, ride a mechanical reindeer, play in some fake snow, hang out in a life-size snow globe and enjoy a complimentary Kahlúa cocktail.” The series benefits the One Warm Coat charity.


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About the Author

Molly Hurford
Molly Hurford

Molly is an outdoor adventurer and professional nomad obsessed with all things running, nutrition, cycling and movement-related. When not outside, she’s writing and podcasting about being outside, training and health. You can follow along with her adventures on Instagram at @mollyjhurford.


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