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5 5Ks Worth Traveling For

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Let’s face it: The 5K has been getting a bit of a bad rap.  Snubbed by many experienced runners in favor of longer race distances, the 5K is often regarded as nothing more than a proverbial carrot to coax beginner runners off the couch.  Or a way in which to get children and non-running friends and family members interested in active fun.  But is that really all there is to it?  Does the humble 5K really only appeal to and benefit beginner runners?  We beg to differ.

The perks of strong and regular 5K efforts are legion.  Even for experienced runners.  For starters, properly preparing for a good 5K effort isn’t all-consuming.  It allows you to train hard and actually have a quality family and work life too.  Plus, clocking a new 5K PB leaves you with enough oomph in the tank to actually enjoy the rest of your race-cation.  And how about that (almost) instant gratification it gives?  What’s not to love, right?  And with more than 15,000 5K races taking place annually in the US alone, there is absolutely no excuse to miss out.  Here are five 5Ks that you’re sure to love and are even worth traveling for.

The Hot Chocolate 5K

5 5Ks worth travelling for.
Here we go, 15K! #hotchocolaterun” by Nicki Dugan Pogue is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The Hot Chocolate 5K, which takes place in 15 cities across the US, has become a much anticipated highlight on the annual race calendar.  Labeled as the biggest 5K in the US, the Chicago leg of the Hot Chocolate 5K series alone drew a staggering 29,300 participants in 2014.  And that’s on top of another 16,000 entrants for the 15K that took place on the same day.  But why is this race so popular?  Well, this is one race that does not skimp on race swag.  Its post-race hot chocolate mugs filled with sweet treats (including gluten-, compound- and nut-free dark chocolate) and finisher’s hoodies are legendary.  Plus who says “no, thank you” to mid-race sweet stations serving M&Ms?

So if you’re a chocolate lover and you don’t mind big crowds, give this race a go.  It’s a sweet weekend of running if ever there was one!


And if big crowds aren’t your thing, and race swag doesn’t exactly get your heart racing, then we have the perfect option for you too.  Get hooked on parkrun.  This timed 5K run takes place every Saturday of the year at more than 1,000 venues in fourteen countries across the globe.  And the best part?  It’s absolutely free and always will be.  Simply register online, print your unique barcode, and show up.  Not only will you be blown away by the welcoming atmosphere of one of the friendliest running communities in the world, but the milestone clubs that reward consistency will also keep you coming back for more.

And if you’re looking for a way in which to see the world, one run at a time, then parkrun might just be it.  Your unique parkrun barcode can be scanned at any parkrun venue worldwide, and in some countries “parkrun tourists” are even treated to specially branded gear and exclusive get-togethers.  So get registering!

The Not Since Moses 5K

If you prefer your 5Ks with a side of laughter, then look no further than the Not Since Moses 5K in Five Islands, Canada (about two hours north of Halifax, Nova Scotia).  This race takes place on the bottom of the Bay of Fundy, while the tide is out.  Yes, on the bottom of the ocean floor.  Which basically translates to the muddiest, messiest 5K of your life.

5 5Ks worth travelling for.
Five Islands” by Owen Byrne is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Previous participants describe the race as “challenging”, “one-of-a-kind” and “so much fun”.  And whether you run, trip or giggle your way to the finish line, one thing is certain: This is one 5K experience that you’ll never forget.

The Boston Athletics Association 5K

Not into marathon running, but yearning to be a part of the Boston Marathon action?  Then this is the 5K for you.  The Boston Athletics Association 5K (or B.A.A. 5K) takes place annually in April, during the weekend of the Boston Marathon.  So go and rub shoulders with the elites at the race expo, and share in the excitement of the Boston Marathon by crossing the official Boston Marathon finish line as part of the 5K race.

5 5Ks worth travelling for.
_BRK4987 Boston Marathon Finish Line” by Boris Kasimov is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Registration for the B.A.A. 5K opens in January each year, but registration for the 2017 race has already closed.  So start planning now to be a part of the 2018 event.  It promises to be truly inspirational!

The Carlsbad 5000

5 5Ks worth travelling for.
Sunset Near Turn-Arounds” by Chris Hunkeler is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The Carlsbad 5000, labeled as “the world’s fastest 5K”, is now in its 32nd year and takes place annually in Carlsbad, CA.  Its fast and flat route is known for attracting elites, which adds to the popularity of this springtime 5K.  Back-of-the-packers are, however, also given the red-carpet treatment, with race loot including a gear bag, technical t-shirt, finisher’s medal, a beer at the finisher’s festival and admission to said festival and post-race concert.

So we challenge you to see the 5K in a different light.  Use it as a weekly tempo run to improve your speed over longer distances.  Or make it your race distance of choice when life gets hectic and time for training is limited.  Or how about using it as a way to incorporate a race into a family vacation without sacrificing too much time or energy meant for family fun?  Let’s give the 5K the credit it deserves.  After all, it’s a pretty fun and nifty part of the runner’s arsenal!