Running a local 5K is fun, but why not turn a race into a great excuse for a vacation? Travel to any of these best US running events for a chance to do or see something new. 

A group of people dressed as legos cross the finish line of a 10K race
Grab your best costume and running sneakers for the Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K © Courtesy of Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10K

Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K

Who wants to wait until Halloween to dress up? People plan their costumes months in advance for this wild April event in Richmond. Past events have seen a car, a helicopter, Macho Man and Hulk Hogan, and more among the 25,000 people running to raise money for cancer research at the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K

Hatfield McCoy Marathon

Running gets personal in the Hatfield McCoy Marathon, held in Williamson, West Virginia, each June. The race, which also crosses into Kentucky, assigns each runner a clan, the Hatfields or McCoys. At the end of the race, times are tallied to see which family wins that year’s edition of the epic feud. 

Gettysburg Blue-Gray Half Marathon

Competitors also can choose a side, North or South, in the Gettysburg Blue-Gray Half Marathon in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where the course winds through a Civil War battlefield. 

A man shoves a doughnut into his mouth during a run. In the background is a Krispy Kreme stand
Give your guts the ultimate test during the Krispy Kreme Challenge © Courtesy of the Krispy Kreme Challenge

Krispy Kreme Challenge

Even the most devoted donut connoisseurs have trouble completing the Krispy Kreme Challenge, which takes place each February in Raleigh. Participants must run 2.5 miles to a Krispy Kreme store, scarf down a dozen donuts (that’s 2,400 calories), then run the 2.5 miles back to the finish line. And they have to do it all in an hour.

Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon

Most people will never fly a TIE fighter, but they can run alongside Darth Vader at the Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon in Disney World in April. Stop to take pictures with favorite Star Wars characters while dashing through Walt Disney World Resort. 

AJC Peachtree Road Race

Boston has Heartbreak Hill, and Atlanta has Cardiac Hill, a steep climb located right in front of Piedmont Hospital – a fact not lost on runners wondering if they may need medical assistance to make it to the top. The 10K AJC Peachtree Road Race is America’s biggest road race, with almost 60K annual participants turning out on July 4 each year. 

A group of male runners run past an overhead sign that says 'Carlsbad' on a closed off street in Carlsbad, California
Winners of the Carlsbad 5000 get a beer named in their honor © Kent Horner / Getty Images

Carlsbad 5000

What’s better than winning a race? Winning a race and seeing a beer named after you. That’s the prize for anyone who breaks a world record at March’s Carlsbad 5000, the legendary March road race in Carlsbad, California. Not speedy? Slower runners can still enjoy two free craft beers post-race, including the custom-brewed Full Sprint IPA or Cool Down Lager.

Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot

There are dozens of Turkey Trots held on Thanksgiving morning. Choosing just one to highlight is tough, but Dallas stands out. While most races ask that runners leave their pets at home, dogs on a leash can join the Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot. At the end, enjoy a nice trip to the race beer garden (sorry, Fido, that treat’s just for humans).

Shiprock Marathon

The race starts with a Navajo blessing and loops through spectacular desert terrain along the country’s largest Navajo town, Shiprock, New Mexico. The Shiprock Marathon, which takes place in May, also offers a five-person relay option for those who want the experience but not the high mileage. 

A group of people run down a street in their underwear in the Cupid's Undie Run
Who needs pants when you're running for a good cause © Scott Barbour / Getty Images

Cupid’s Undie Run

Pants feel a little cumbersome for running? Shed your shorts, and more, for the Cupid’s Undie Run, a race series that bills itself “the largest pantsless party” in the nation – not that there’s a lot of competition. The race is held in February in more than three dozen cities, including Nashville, Baltimore, Reno and Cincinnati. Net proceeds benefit neurofibromatosis research.

Hawai’i Pacific Health Great Aloha Run

The gorgeous scenery alone makes the Great Aloha Run, Hawaii’s second-biggest race, a must-run. But the addition of the Sounds of Freedom, a military running formation that calls out in cadence, brings a lump to everyone’s throat along the course of the February race in Honolulu

OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon

Held a few weeks before the Indy 500 in May, the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis shares the same raucous atmosphere as the iconic car race. More than 80 spirit groups and entertainers line up to cheer runners through the course that includes 2.5 miles on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race finishes at the checkered flags, of course. 

Exterior view of the Tennessee State Prison
The grounds of the historic Tennessee State Prison are opened for annual 5K © Phillip Foster / Shutterstock

TDOC Prison 5K Run/Walk

The historic Tennessee State Prison in Nashville opens its grounds to runners and walkers for the TDOC Prison 5K Run/Walk, which raises money for Big Brothers Big Sisters each May. It’s one of a handful of US races held on the grounds of a prison. TDOC invites finishers to take a narrated tour of the facility grounds after the race to learn more about its history.

ChuckaNut 50K

An ultramarathon requires months of intensive training, but it all pays off with the amazing views on the course outside Bellingham, Washington. Runners climb 5,000 feet and then run down the Chuckanut Mountain Ridge at the end of the 50K, held in March.

Run short, run long, take a snack break in the middle – do it all and have fun at the best US running events. 

Run Woodstock 

America’s grooviest race series, Run Woodstock offers options from the Flower Power 5 Mile to the Hallucination 100 Mile while paying tribute to the era of peace, love and giant music festivals. Race swag comes, naturally, in tie dye, and the race medals are peace signs. Races take place near Ann Arbor over a weekend in September. Make sure to check out the“hippie hikes,” too. 

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