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The Ultimate Top 10 5k Fun Runs

By Christy Kelly

Why just run when you can "Fun Run"?

In the past few years, fun runs have been growing in popularity. Each with a different theme, these races focus less on breaking records and more on getting active and having a good time. Fun runs are a great way for beginners to get motivated and for seasoned athletes to break up the monotony of training.

Here is a list of 10 quirky 5k-distanced runs to try out. 

#1. The Color Run

photo courtesy of thecolorrun.com
Type: Road Race
Competitive Level: Low (untimed race)
Obstacles: None
Great For: First time 5k runners who like getting colorful
Charitable Donation: Varies by city

The Color Run, also known as the Happiest 5k on the planet, is a unique paint race where participants are doused in different color powder at each kilometer. This race welcomes participants of any fitness level and encourages group participation.

#2. Run for your Lives

Type: Obstacle & Mud Run
Competitive Level: High – you are “running for your life”
Obstacles: Series of Man-made obstacles & Chasing Zombies
Great for: Zombie rovers and people who like to be chased
Charity Donation: None

Run for your Lives is your traditional obstacle and mud run with a twist. As you are darting through mud and working around obstacles such as a maze and blood pit, zombies chase you. The object is to make it through the race without the zombies getting all 3 of your flags around your waist. Sometimes this requires some extra sprinting and quick maneuvering depending on the zombie’s agility.

#3. Warrior Dash

photo courtesy of mensjournal.com
Type: Obstacle & Mud Run
Competitive Level: Medium
Obstacles: Series of Man-made obstacles & Mud
Great for: Anyone interested in mud runs
Charity Donation: None

The original mud and obstacle run, the Warrior Dash comes to over 40 locations, so if you wish to try out a mud and obstacle run, this is a great one to start with. They have flexible participation rules when it comes to the obstacles, so everyone can participate at the level they wish. And don’t forget to celebrate your success with a Turkey Leg!

#4. Hot Chocolate 5k

photo courtesy of avoision.com/
Type: Road Race
Competitive Level: Medium
Obstacles: None
Great for: Classic 5k Runners that Love Chocolate
Charity Donation: Ronald Mc Donald House

America’s sweetest race, the Hot Chocolate 5k (and 15k) is a traditional road race with an amazing reward at the end. Upon completing the race, each participant receives a hot chocolate, chocolate fondue and various dipping treats.

#5. Jingle Bell Run

Type: Road Race
Competitive Level: Low: walkers welcome
Obstacles: None
Great for: Classic 5k Runners that like to give back
Charity Donation: Arthritis Foundation

This is the nations largest 5k holiday race, as it coordinates runs all across the country. It’s a more traditional road race, which focuses on forming teams and fundraising for the main charity, the Arthritis Foundation. Participants are encouraged to dress in their favorite holiday themed costumes and are given bells to tie to their shoes during the race as well.

#6. Turkey Trot 

photo courtesy of osideturkeytrot.com

Type: Road Race
Competitive Level: Low: walkers welcome too
Obstacles: None
Great for: Classic 5k Runners that like fundraising
Charity Donation: Varies

The Turkey Trot has become a great holiday tradition for many families. Many US cities and towns sponsor 5k runs on Thanksgiving day where families are encouraged to wear their best costumes and run/jog/trot for charity. And if running for turkeys is not up your alley, check out the Portland Tofurky Trot!

#7. Dirty Girl

photo courtesy of godirtygirl.com
Type: Woman-Only Mud and Obstacle Run 
Competitive Level: Low: untimed course
Obstacles: Mud, Ropes, and more
Great for: Women looking to try their first Mud Run
Charity Donation: Various Breast Cancer Charity Organizations

What we love the most about the Dirty Girl races is they are one of the few mud and obstacle races at the 5k level that support charity donations. The course itself is very similar to the Warrior Dash but with a Female twist - expect a lot of pink tutus and female themed obstacle names. A great race to try with girlfriends!

#8. Rugged Maniac

photo courtesy of mensjournal.com
Type: Mud and Obstacle Run
Competitive Level: High: a lot of obstacles
Obstacles: Yes- 20+
Great for: Intermediate to Advanced Mud Runners who want more obstacles
Charity Donation: None

Another newbie to the Mud and Obstacle race circuit, the Rugged Maniac is raising the bar on obstacles presented. Expect over 20 obstacles to complete, including a 100’ water slide and jumping over fire. They offer opportunities to run the race for free by volunteering, so if you are looking for a more budget-friendly race this might be the one for you.

#9. 5k Foam Fest

Type: Mud and Obstacle Run and Foam Run
Competitive Level: Beginner: untimed
Obstacles: Yes – 20+
Great for: Beginner Mud Racers that love car washes
Charity Donation: None

A mud run meets a car wash, the foam fest is designed for those that want a little bit more than mud to run through. Obstacles on this course are a mix of traditional climbing walls, mud pits and rope courses as well as inflatable slides and bouncing contraptions covered in white foam. This event is more focused on the obstacles than the run, so if you are training for a real 5k, it’s best to try a different race.  Bonus for families – in the spectator area there is a foam-only play area for kids.

#10. Spartan Sprints

photo courtesy of spartanrace.com
Type: Mud and Obstacle Run
Competitive Level: High: more difficult obstacles
Obstacles: Yes – 15+
Great for: Intermediate to Advanced Mud Runners who want more obstacles
Charity Donation: None

The Spartan Sprint distance can vary, and typically can be a little longer than a 5k. There are longer distances to choose from if you prefer more of a challenge, but with any distance you choose, be prepared for a more concentrated and challenging amount of obstacles.  The Spartan Sprint (shortest distance) boasts 15+ obstacles to complete, including mental challenges that are designed to get you out of your comfort zone.

There you have it! Are you thinking about participating in a Fun Run this year? 

Posted on May 21, 2013 03:00 PM