Whether you’re a beginner or advanced runner, the 5K is a great race. You can push really hard, or you can take your time over the 3.1 miles. However you approach it, a 5K is one of the least intimidating and most enjoyable races you can run. Even at a relaxed pace, you’ll be done in less than 45 minutes, leaving the rest of your day free.
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Many 5K races feature a fundraising component, which gives double meaning to your run. If you’re looking for a great race to kick off the fall season, check out these seven 5Ks where you can do a good deed and get in a workout at the same time.
1. SF Teal 2 Heal 5K
September 10, 2016 — San Francisco
September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness month, and San Francisco’s Teal 2 Heal 5K is a great way to honor the occasion while benefitting the University of California, San Francisco’s Gynecologic Oncology Division and Shanti Project’s Margot Murphy Women’s Cancer Program. You’ll be running in the scenic Golden Gate Park with hundreds of other women (and men) who’ve been affected by gynecologic cancers or are supporting the cause.
2. Great American Hero 5K Obstacle Challenge
September 11, 2016 — Tracy, California
If you’ve been looking for an easy introduction to obstacle racing, this one that supports and honors military heroes at home and abroad is one to try. It’s a 5K trail race featuring a few mild obstacles over the course of the trail. There’s also a more grueling 10K option, plus a beer at the end. Also, your registration benefits Semper Fi Fund and the United Way of San Joaquin.
3. Corndog Classic Color Run 5K
September 23, 2016 — Tulsa, Oklahoma
Not only would you have an excuse to visit the Tulsa State Fair, you also get to eat a corn dog while you crush a 5K! This run has an uncharacteristically late 6 p.m. start time, and it requires that you fuel your run with favorite fair classics: Runners must finish a mini corn dog, lemonade (or beer) and mini caramel apple. It’s a great way to take in some amazing fair foods without feeling like a glutton — since you’ll be running off the calories as you go. Proceeds fittingly benefit Food For Kids.
4. Hot Chocolate 5K
October 30, 2016 — Chicago
Run for chocolate? Absolutely! An estimated 4,000 pounds of premium dark chocolate will be melted into the perfect cup of cocoa — all in the name of charity. This run supports the Ronald McDonald House Charities, which provide a home away from home for families with children facing a serious medical crisis so they can stay close to the hospital at little or no cost. The run, which also has a 15K option, shows you around the coolest parts of the the Windy City, and there’s hot cocoa at the end. The run is part of a series of races throughout the country, so check their website to see if there’s a race near you.
5. Mustache Dache
November 5, 2016 — Seattle
They don’t call November “Movember” for nothing. Referred to as “the hairiest 5K race,” the Dache raises funds and awareness for The Movember Foundation, which supports men’s health, particularly in the areas of prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s mental health. If you can’t or won’t grow a ’stache this Movember (women, we’re talking to you), you can stick on a fake one at the start line. In addition to Seattle, other cities host this run, so check out their website to see if there’s a race near you.
6. Veteran’s Day 5K
November 12, 2016 — Phoenix
If you’re looking to set a personal record in a 5K, consider this flat and fast option in Phoenix during one of its nicer (read: less hot) months of the year. Alternatively, the race is extremely family friendly, with strollers and pups allowed on the course (as long as your faithful companion is on a leash). A portion of the proceeds go directly to Team Red, White and Blue. Team RWB’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.
7. Krispy Kreme Challenge 5-Miler
February 6, 2017 — Raleigh, North Carolina
It’s not until 2017, and it’s a five-miler not a 5K, but we couldn’t resist ending on a sweet note. Krispy Kreme’s Challenge is one for the record books: 2,400 calories, 12 doughnuts, 5 miles, 1 hour. The organizers call this race “the test of physical fitness and gastrointestinal fortitude.” In 2015, more than 8,000 racers took part in its 10th annual race and raised $195,000 for the North Carolina Children’s Hospital, which caters especially to the needs of sick or injured children and their families. Mark your calendars, but try not to use this race as an excuse to start “race prep” by eating doughnuts regularly.