15 of the Best 5K Races in America! #9 is our favorite

Foot races and road races have been around as long as there have been feet and roads to run on. Competitive running is a standard and anticipated part of the Olympics that athletes train for and we continue to find ways to make things more challenging with competitions like Triathlons and the Iron Man.

Thankfully, there are easy ways to hit the road with fun runs and 5k races that often include other special events to entertain participants and spectators and benefit local charities. Whether you like a straight and serious run on flat roads or you don't mind dodging color dye parcels as you run through the forests, you will find a 5k race to tease you into the action.

1. Chocolate 5k, Montgomery, Alabama (January)

If you love running and you love chocolate you will love the Chocolate 5k that includes chocolate treats along the way and at the end. It's a family and foodie friendly event that takes place at the Blount Cultural Park and you can also help support the Autism Society of Alabama with your registration or donation.

2. The Beaver Run, Wasilla, Alaska (January)

Those long winter nights in Alaska must be the excuse for the ideas the organizers come up with to challenge the runners along this 5k course, like 'climbing the hill and sliding down or carrying Christmas trees and summiting the mountain of snow.' It's all in the spirit of fun and anyone can participate for the price of admission, which gets you into the race and a place by the fire to eat hot chili and admire your prize.

3. Color Vibe 5k, Vallejo, California (January)

It sounds like something that happens during a Blue Man Group show, but if you join in this race you can count on going home all the shades of the rainbow. That's because the stations are color zones where you get blasted with color as you walk or run by. Some of the monies from the event are going to local charities, making it a good excuse for letting your body be your canvas.

4. All-Out Spring Fever 5k, Golden, Colorado (March)

If you have spring fever you might want to get out of the house and participate in the All-Out Spring Fever competitive walk/run. The course is scenic, passing by the Blunn Reservoir and is designed to "challenge the beginner and veteran athlete alike." The All-Out Team works hard to honor the athletes and give back to charities the runners support.

5. The Pine Jog Wild Orchid 5k, West Palm Beach, Florida (February)

The Wild Orchid 5k sounds like a trek through the backdrop of a Disney movie. The course takes you through 132 acres of a pine forest "under tree canopies, and past rare, endangered native orchids" in a place called Pine Jog that is one of the oldest nature centers in the country. After the race enjoy refreshments and learn about the orchids. Race proceeds go to programs that introduce kids to botany in part by letting them propagate their own orchids in the lab.

6. Roots 'n Shoots 5k, Koloa, Hawaii (April)

The Roots and Shoots 5k is a delightful way to spend a day in the tropical paradise we know as Hawaii. The race starts on the Biodiversity Trail at the National Tropical Botanical Garden and tells the story of plant evolution before giving way to a lush tropical environment with "bamboo and tropical fruit trees and alongside the Lawai stream." Get to the finish line and you are treated to a complimentary continental breakfast (with tropical fruit, we imagine). Stick around for the silent auction and explore the gardens.

7. Kindness Moves Me 5k, Wichita, Kansas (June)

The good people of Wichita gather their friends and family and lace up their sneakers to participate in this event to celebrate kindness in many forms, including being kind to ourselves by taking care of our bodies as well as spreading kindness in our communities. The organizers separately host "Kindness in Action" hours, which are briefings on "how poverty and mental illness affect the community" and insight into how events like the Kindness Moves Me run helps contribute to positive life changes.

8. Urban Runoff 5k , Portland, Maine (April)

Experience Maine in the spring on a course that is open to runners of all abilities and takes in suburban scenery, including the University of New England's Portland campus. Run or walk this 5k course to help raise awareness of water pollution and then pick up your commemorative water bottle and enjoy a massage and the Green Neighbor Family Fest, which is also a celebration of Earth Day.

9. Insane Inflatable 5k Obstacle Course, East Falmouth, Massachusetts (August)

An Insane Inflatable 5k is not a traditional road race. It's part road race, part obstacle course and a whole lot of fun you can have with your friends. Groups of people go through in timed waves, letting you have some quality play time as you make your way from the start to the finish. Climb up, over and around the inflatables like the "Big Balls" sure to gobsmack you as you fight through to the next obstacle.

10. No Child Wet Behind 5k, Yorktown, New York (May)

The No Child Wet Behind 5k is a fundraiser for the Westchester Diaper Bank! The name alone is worth a smile if not some support. Music and entertainment for children is promised and there will be awards and a raffle and lots of cool stuff you can buy from sponsors and vendor kiosks.

11. Color Me Green 5k Color Run, Charlotte, North Carolina (March)

This is a trail race described as challenging, "with a St. Patrick's Day twist," which means people are going to be lobbing green dye your way as you whizz by. Runners are encouraged to wear white tshirts as those who are the "cleanest" as well as those who are the "greenest" will be given awards. Registering enters you into a raffle for fun prizes and after the race you can chill with a cold beverage and listen to live music as part of the Green River Revival.

12. Red, White and Blues 5k, Portland, Oregon (July)

The Red, White and Blues event brings together a unique road race with a popular music festival for a one-of-a-kind day that runs into night with an exclusive after party. As the race has a patriotic theme, awards will be given for the best patriotic costumes and $10 of your registration fee goes toward the Oregon Food Bank.

13. Bird-in-Hand 5, Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania (September)

The Bird-in-Hand 5k runs through some of the most idyllic landscape in Pennsylvania. The course takes in the picturesque Amish farms that dot the Lancaster countryside and activities like hot air balloon launches and a bonfire and S'mores party stretch things out into a long weekend. Runner's World said "It's like a course you've never experienced," and added that "one-room schoolhouses serve as your rest stops."

14. Run Wild 5k, Galveston, Texas (May)

Run Wild is a family-friendly walk/run that encourages "wild things of all ages" to come out and run! Run along the seawall and then meet at Pier 21 to celebrate your efforts. The event is designed to get the community to come out and enjoy the festivities, food and fun of a non-completive event where the net proceeds benefit Galveston County children's charities and your race entry gets you into the 19th Annual Wild Game and BBQ Cook off.

15. Maple 5k, Brattleboro, Vermont
Sunday (September)

September is an ideal time to visit Vermont as you are almost sure to be treated to a carpet of fall foliage color in the Green Mountain state. The Maple 5k takes you down "a quiet back road nestled in the hills of Vermont," so relax and enjoy the scenery. You won't be going to a concert or pizza party after the race, but your registration fee will let you grab some snacks and something to quench your thirst and if you get there early enough you can snag a tshirt.

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