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Fun 5K Races, Themed 5K Runs

3 Family-Friendly Themed 5K Runs: More Reasons to Travel

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Years ago, the only races available for recreational runners like me were regional fundraisers of varying distances. Back then, it was virtually impossible to get my kids interested in running a race with me. (“Races are BORING, Mom!”)

Within the past five years, however, there has been an explosion of themed 5K runs that not only test one’s physical fitness, but often provide a unique experience. Whether it’s being chased by zombies or running through walls of bubbles, these days my kids are much more willing to run a race with me if there’s a theme.

This got me thinking: a themed race is the perfect excuse to visit a new city! Sign up for a race in which the whole family can participate, then spend the rest of the weekend exploring your new surroundings.

Many of these fun 5K runs are scheduled up to a year in advance across the U.S., making it really easy to include them into your travel plans. What’s more, many races offer early bird discounts via Groupon or ScoutMob. Most of the themed races we’ve attended are located in the outskirts of a major city, giving you plenty of Hilton hotel options either in the city center or in its suburbs.

Here are 3 family-friendly themed 5K runs we have tried and recommend as a great way to spend time together and make some lasting memories, all while exploring a new part of the country.

3 Fun 5K Races to do as a Family

1. Zombie Run

I ran the Zombie Mud Run 5K obstacle race with a couple of college friends, and we had a blast trying to complete each obstacle without a zombie stealing our flags. This race is obviously for older kids, as it might be hard to convince small ones that these zombies are NOT real. (The volunteer zombies take their roles very seriously!) The minimum age to participate is 13, but they have begun offering a Zombie Mud Run Junior race which is specifically for kids and their parents.

The atmosphere is high-energy, macabre fun. I am looking forward to running it again with my kids when they’re a little older (and faster).

Fun 5K races, Themed 5K runs - Zombie Run

We accurately chose our race speed at the beginning of the Zombie Mud Run 5K.

2. Bubble Run

When I asked my daughter if she would be interested in running a Bubble Run, she did not hesitate to say YES! Our race shirts started out white, but after running through walls and walls of colored bubbles, they turned a rainbow of colors. The Bubble Run we ran was very social; the vibe was more about being together with family and friends than about running your fastest mile. For that reason, I think this would make a great “starter” race for those who are new to recreational running.

Fun 5K races, Themed 5K runs - Bubble Run

The Bubble Run themed 5K race is good clean fun with LOTS of multi-colored bubbles.

3. Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Run

As a chocoholic, this race was made for me and my sweet-toothed girls! Although braving cold temperatures before sunrise is never on my to-do list, the bowl filled with chocolate fondue and hot chocolate that we received post-race made it all worthwhile. This race is also known for its high quality “swag;” the hoodies are usually very stylish. It has become a family tradition to run this race together in late January.

Fun 5K races, Themed 5K runs - Hot Chocolate 5K

It’s easier to run a 5K when there’s chocolate waiting for you at the end! You’ll see why I can always recommend Hot Chocolate as one of the most fun 5K races across the U.S.

There are other races, like the Dirty Girls and the Color Run that look really fun, but we haven’t tried them ourselves. (Dirty Girl run would be a great race for an adult girls’ weekend,or for moms with teenage girls as the minimum participant age is 14.) Check them out and let me know how they are.

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Erin is a native Floridian who has resided in Atlanta since 1995. Her husband Mike and she have two funny, smart, active girls and two cats.

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