After months of being cooped up indoors (thanks to mountains of snow and frigid temperatures), runners, joggers, and walkers across the country are digging out their sneakers and stepping into the slush at our favorite annual road races. Running is a great way to meet the well-known recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that adults get 30 minutes of aerobic activity five days a week. Luckily, spring temperatures make getting out for a run an invigorating experience for the body and mind.
In celebration of spring’s glorious return and the outdoor activities mild weather affords, here’s a look at several great spring road races that kick off warm exercise while raising money and awareness for good causes, nonprofit organizations, and local charities.
Earth Day 5K (Aiken, SC—April 18)
The Earth Day 5K in Aiken, South Carolina, is a great run for the whole family. Throughout the 5,000-meter, 3.1-mile course, participants encounter obstacles suitable for all ages and abilities, which are made out of recycled materials. After the run, participants and spectators can learn more about Earth Day and the benefits of recycling from booths stationed at the Newberry Street Festival Center. If you can’t make it to Aiken, consider participating in Earth Day activities in your own neighborhood.
Urban Runoff 5K (Portland, ME—April 25)
The Urban Runoff 5K in Portland, Maine, includes many green features as it promotes the notion of “funding clean water education to build healthy communities.” Race organizers encourage runners to participate in the event’s fundraising effort, which funds clean water education programs. Those who successfully raise at least $200 are reimbursed their registration fee. It’s a win-win-win—that is, if you finish first in the race!
Philly Rabbit Run 5K (Philadelphia, PA—April 4)
The Philly Rabbit 5K features a course that runs through the Philadelphia Zoo, the oldest zoo in the country. This enjoyable run takes place during Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and proceeds from the event will be used to help find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease. If you aren’t up for the run, the Philly Rabbit event also features a one-mile walking course.
Shamrock Shuffle 8K (Chicago, IL—March 29)
The Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago, Illinois, is one of the most popular 8Ks in the world. The fast five-mile course, festive atmosphere, and beautiful location of the start-finish line make this run a favorite among elite athletes, spectators, and casual runners—myself included. I always get a kick out of seeing people dressed in green from head-to-toe, ready to run with friends new and old. The Shamrock Shuffle works with several different charities, including The Susan G.Komen Foundation, Finish MS, and the American Red Cross.
Country Music Half-Marathon (Nashville, TN—April 25)
I’m more of a rocker girl than a southern belle, but the Country Music Half-Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee, is one of the best races I have ever had the pleasure of running. The hilly course through Tennessee’s beautiful landscape makes this run enjoyable from start to finish, on top of the live bands stationed throughout the race to keep you feeling motivated. The Country Music Half-Marathon works with St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital to offer participants a variety of fundraising opportunities that enhance their race experience, all while bringing in money for a great cause.
Steamboat Marathon (Steamboat Springs, CO—June 7)
Steamboat Springs, Colorado, has got to be one of the most beautiful places in the country, and the Steamboat Marathon takes runners through its breath-taking landscape for a thrilling 26.2 miles. The event partners with Children’s Hospital Colorado in raising money to help support kids who are battling cancer. If you’re looking for a destination marathon this spring, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Running is a great way to stay active and it’s never too late to take your first steps. Your local running store can provide you with information about group fun runs, as well as seminars for beginners. Neighborhood running stores are also great places to learn about road races in your area, or you can do a search on Active.com to find 5Ks, 10Ks, and marathons near you.
What are some of your favorite spring road races? Share your recommendations on Twitter with #GoodMatters!
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.