I’d run for ____. You fill in the blank. Here are a few suggestions: A frosty, cold beer, or maybe a few donuts.
We know — finding the motivation for a run isn’t always easy. But sorry, this time you’re officially out of excuses; your snack life and run life have become one.
From 5k to half marathon, beer to bacon, there’s a race in the US that’ll have you lacing up those sneakers, eating your feelings, and popping top in glorious celebration.
NYC Pizza Run | NYC
Pizza is universally loved, but New Yorkers know all about the perfect slice. So, the NYC Pizza Run just makes sense. For seven years, pizza lovers have run two miles through Manhattan’s Tompkins Square Park. But instead of a post-race pie, runners will have to eat three slices (courtesy of Pizza by Certé, who sources local ingredients!) throughout the race, on the fly (New York-style, one might say). There’s also a free drink at the end, if you can stomach it.
Hot Dog Challenge | NYC
After the NYC Pizza Run it’s time for a hot dog challenge. No, we’re not talking about taking on Joey Chestnut on Coney Island (you can’t beat that machine). New York’s Hot Dog Challenge is a bit more indie, with only a handful of competitors and no large crowds. Here’s why: You’re pretty much guaranteed to eat 10 hot dogs (including the bun) on a three- to five-mile jaunt through Midtown Manhattan. For every single hot dog cart you pass along the route, you have to order up a fresh frank before moving on towards the finish.
Krispy Kreme Challenge | Raleigh, NC
When did donut runs become so popular? Pittsburgh’s Donut Dash will have you run a mile, cram six (full size) donuts, then sprint back the way you came. Irvine, CA’s Great Donut Run/Walk 5k gives you two chances to stock your stomach with sweets. Their Donut Run 5k takes runners to the Donut Hole Zone halfway through the race for all the donut holes you can handle. Still have a sweet tooth? Their 5k Donut Challenge goes one step further, guiding runners to the Donut Hole Zone AND the Donut Challenge Zone for a two donut top off before heading to the finish line. But the granddaddy of them all, The Krispy Kreme Challenge on NC State’s campus in Raleigh, will pit you against 2,400 calories in the form of 12 doughnuts over five miles. Run hard, eat hard, and hold it down, gang.
Wicked Wine Run | Nationwide
Okay, now take everything we said and sub in wine. Yeah, call all your wino friends, because if you’ve got a winery nearby, you may have the Wicked Wine Run dishing out exercise and heavy-handed pours. Honestly, it’s everything you could want: A 5k run through a beautiful vineyard or venue; wine stops along the way; live music, food trucks and tours at the finish; and ALL THE WINE! Check here to see if there’s one near you. Glug, glug, glug.
Twinkie Run | Ann Arbor, MI
Here’s another run where you can fill up on pastries. Well, sort-of pastries. (Wait, are Twinkies even food?) Love them or hate them, you’ll be wolfing down one at the start, one in the middle, and one at the finish at this springtime 5k through Gallup Park in Ann Arbor. Is this a cheat day? We hope so. Make for the grilled Twinkies or homemade Twinkie contest after you cross the finish line. And when you’ve got the Twinkie sweats and wonder if it was all worth it, remember that it was — all proceeds from your colossal cake binge go to ALS research.
Brain Freezer 5k | Burlington, VT
If you need a summer race, nothing satisfies like the Brain Freezer 5k in Burlington. Yeah, you get a personal pint of ice cream. The brain freeze is just a side effect of eating it as fast as humanly possible. You’ll set out from Battery Park for a quick 1.5 miles before someone puts a tub of ice cream in your hand. And you have to finish all of it — but that’s easy when it’s made by Vermont’s favorite sons, Ben & Jerry. After polishing off your pint (and screaming through a brain freeze) carry on and finish the race.
Corndog Classic 5k | Tulsa, OK
Want an express experience at the Tulsa State Fair? Run the Corndog Classic 5k. It packs all the excitement of a Midwest country fair into about 25ish minutes (if you’re quick about it). When you run through Expo Square, you actually will see all of Tulsa’s famed fair. But what would be a fair without fair food?! During your jaunt, you’ll have to eat a mini corndog, put a beer or lemonade down the hatch, and do-si-do with the always-tricky-to-eat caramel apple. Welcome to side stitch city. Oh, and wear white because it’s also a color run.
Great American Bacon Race | Orlando, FL
Two bacon races. Same distance. Two different ways to consume those sizzlin’ strips. In Allentown, Pennsylvania’s Bacon 5k Challenge (cleverly arranged by Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs AAA baseball) will have you run half of the race, scarf a half-pound of bacon, then break for the finish line (where there will be a chocolate-covered strip waiting for you). Meanwhile, the Great American Bacon Race in Orlando and Miami will have you pace yourself, consuming “bacon-y” treats at three stops along the course. This, of course, all ends in an enormous bacon bash… complete with bacon ice cream.
International Pancake Race | Liberal, KS
Okay, we’re going to get a bit weird here. But every year for decades, Liberal, Kansas has been the site of women racing down the street flipping pancakes — apron, frying pan, and all. The tradition goes way, way back to England, who we compete with to this day. That’s right. Liberal and the town of Olney in England take pride in a 415-yard sprint that only lasts about a minute. But if you’ve seen it (or run it), it’s the most thrilling, most patriotic, most bizarre event you will ever encounter. Girls, bring one home for the US of A, then we can all eat a heaping stack of flapjacks at the festival.
Hot Chocolate 15k/5k | Nationwide
When running weather hits and it’s straight up brisk (aka absolutely bone-chilling), the Hot Chocolate 15k and 5k, unsurprisingly, gives you something that’s sure to warm you up: A piping cup of cocoa. The mug comes at the finish, but all along the route (now in a city near you), you can score a number of delicious marshmallow treats. Here are some crazy stats: This season alone, they’ll have 12,600 gallons hot chocolate for runners and 4,000 lbs of melted chocolate per race. At least you’ll have a sweet sugar high to keep you moving!
Rock ‘N’ Hops Brewery Racing Series | Ohio
Rock ‘N’ Hops brings Ohioans together to revel in running, live music, and, of course, local craft brews. Each site will host a 5k, half-half (that’s 6.5 miles; half of a half marathon), and beer mile (4 beers, 4 laps). Cleveland’s race is run through the Flats neighborhood while Columbus’ is run on an actual hop farm, meaning your race will prepare you start-to-finish for a crisp, hoppy post-race refreshment. No matter where you run, the beer bash at the end will make it worth it. Save some strength for the Keg Hug competition or mellow out with a pint at Brew Yoga.
Stein Dash 5k | Puyallup, WA
There’s more to a good Oktoberfest celebration than just beer and brats. Enter the Stein Dash 5k in Puyallup, just outside Seattle. Their post-race party is a massive German-style festival, Oktoberfest Northwest, but that shouldn’t overshadow the during-race party. It’s a stein dash, meaning you’ll be toting a plastic beer vessel to fill and, well… unfill, at three designated Beer Zones throughout the 5k course. But you’re on the clock, remember? Chug that brew and head for the Bavarian folk music.
Great American Brewery Runs | PA, NY, NJ, NC
If you live near on the East Coast and love craft beer, consider yourself blessed. The Great American Brewery Runs are a series of eight races: Fox Trot 5k in Pottstown, PA; Flying Fish 5k in Somerdale, NJ; 5,000 Yards Dash in Philadelphia; The Hi-Wire Brewing 8k in Asheville, NC; The Chosen Run 5k in Clifton Park, NY; The ADK 5k in Lake George, NY; The Loose Cannon 5k; and The Schuylkill River Relay 50K from Phoenixville to Conshocken, PA. They celebrate all the best things about being American, like running really fast for a cold one, local craft adult beverages, live music, a swarm of food trucks, and yard games (play life-size beer pong and Jenga). God bless the Brewery Runs!
The Beer Relay | TX, CO, NC
The Beer Relay is the ultimate feat in competitive running/drinking. Races are held in Austin, Lyons (north of Boulder), and Brevard, NC. Each town is is an outpost for Oskar Blues, the maker of magical craft brews. The same beer you’ll be slamming after each five-kilometer lap around the trail. Finish them all and deduct two minutes from your (or your team’s) time. Oh, after each lap and beer slam, you have to complete a “sobriety test” full of obstacles that can really trip you up. Fitt Tip: Eat half a CLIF Bar and drink some water at the hydration stations to stay sober-ish.
Shamrock 5k Beer Run | IL, IN, KY
During St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, we all have a beer or two. But this festive race in Chicago, Indianapolis, Louisville, and Rockford encourages it (peer pressure by the thousands). Throw on your green and toe the starting line with fellow thirsty racers. Once the starting gun sounds, it’s just like any other 5k… except you’ll be drinking a 3oz beer from local breweries five times during the race. Afterward, join the sea of green at the after-party, complete with a pint of your choosing.
Pints to Pasta | Hood River, OR
In competitive running, there’s carb-loading, and then there’s carb-rewarding. In Hood River, OR’s (near Portland) case, they’re all for the latter. Their annual Pints to Pasta 10k & Half Marathon will have you run a delightful trek through scenic farmland and end on the banks of the Columbia River. Yes, the race is spectacular… but now, on to the carbs. Not only will you be treated to your fill of a Full Sail brew or some Barefoot wine or bubbly, but you’ll also get the pasta feast. Refuel with heaping plates pasta and salad, and stuff your pockets with bread (we won’t tell).
Bend Beer Chase | Bend, OR
Wow, some people will really go the distance for a quality beer. And those who run the Bend Beer Chase in—you guessed it—Bend, Oregon know that the only way to finish a punishing six-person, 50-mile ultra race is by punishing your liver. Once the last member of your squad crosses the finish line, you’ll walk as a team on the final “Keg Leg,” a crawl of eight local breweries for the ultimate refreshment. But we’ll head this question off from the start: No, your team van does not need “road sodas”.