A Guide To The Best Races For The Whole Family
As runners, our love for the sport runs deep. This means registering for a race pretty much every week. So why not make it a family affair? Racing together as a family is a great way to spend time together while encouraging a healthy and fit lifestyle for every member.
But as much as we want to share our love for running with loved ones, some events aren’t suited for the little ones. Others, like obstacle races, might be too challenging for your parents or spouse who hasn’t trained.
And while there are events that are geared for the entire family, there are specific options for the little ones who want to run like mommy or daddy, as well as those for a teen to adult sibling who is just doing the race for cool bling and the afterparty.
Involving family members in the world of racing is a great idea. But the runner might not know which are the best races to introduce to specific members. Here’s how to find the best races for everyone from the kids to the grandparents.
Maybe you are the stroller runner that kills the course pushing that 20 plus pounds of extra weight during a 5k. But once your baby becomes a toddler, you might want to start them early when it comes to racing. Many 5k events hold a kid run either before or after the main event. These kids runs range in distance from 20-80 yards for the 2- to 5-year-olds, up to 250 yards or more for 5 and up. This distance varies among each kids fun run event. Typically, the kids are broken up into their age corrals, with the older ones starting first and further away to the finish line. Many events award the children with ribbons or medals.
Not every 5k has the kids fun run option, but those geared more towards families often do. There are even some events that are just specifically for kids preschool age and up.
Mile Runs For Kids, 5ks and Half Marathons
While these are great for the little ones, some family-friendly 5k events also offer one-mile races. These are geared for older kids that can actually run an entire mile, and sometimes these are even timed races.
Most of the time children under 13 are permitted to run a 5k, but this also depends on the event. Some races even allow kids under 10 or so to walk/run the event for free. Whether or not the child is ready for a 5k depends on their fitness level and how much they enjoy running.
Generally, children can run a half-marathon around 12- to 13-years old. However, consult the child’s doctor first to get the okay for these types of active runners. These younger ones get less oxygen to their muscles during running for longer periods of time, so it’s best to slowly increase the mileage no more than about 5 percent each week.
It’s not recommended that children under the age of 18 trains to run a marathon. That’s because of their decreased body mass ratio compared to adults, which increases the risk of overheating or losing more heat in cold weather. It also increases the risk of overuse which can lead to injuries, especially when throwing in facts like growth spurts where the bones grow faster than muscle.
Moms and dads looking to run with really little ones should look into events that are stroller-friendly. This includes many 5k and 10k races. Sometimes the event website informs that strollers are allowed. Reach out to the event organizers to ask. As long as the course is paved and not a trail event, most of the time strollers are allowed. Just keep in mind that runners with strollers are advised to start in the back of the pack so that others aren’t trying to run around the stroller to break away from the pack.
Some of these stroller-friendly races include the kids fun run options, so this is a great way for the parent to race with the little one in the stroller and then have them run too.
Color runs are really fun races that are great to do with siblings, teens, or a group of friends. The most popular is The Color Run, a 5k ran by over 6 million people in over 25 countries. The idea is that runners wear all white and along the 3.1-mile course they are splashed with colored (non-toxic) powder.
These are untimed events that are more about having fun. Many walk the course and do it for the fun medal and afterparty that even spectators can attend. This generally includes a DJ with dancing and post-race refreshments.
Similar to the Color Run is other fun runs like the Night Nation or Electric Run that is held at night and features lots of neon and an EDM dance party, as well as bubble runs, where participants get wet and soapy like the Foam Fest 5k. These are best enjoyed by the 21 and older crowd since fun afterparties include beer gardens.
Mud Runs And Obstacle Races
These types of events are best enjoyed by adults who love pushing themselves physically.
Mud runs are events that vary from 3 to 12 miles in distance with obstacles along the course. The idea is that the participants run a bit then complete an obstacle and run to the next one until finishing. Of course, this means getting nice and muddy so expect to get dirty. Some are timed and others aren’t. These are more about teamwork and getting fit with family and friends. These are for those who aren’t afraid to get dirty and who are looking to step up their fitness training.
Similarly to mud runs like the Tough Mudder are OCRs, obstacle course races. These also include obstacles that may or may not include mud. Common obstacles include scaling walls, rope climbs, crawling under barbed wire and doing other military-like training. Again, these like the Spartan Race, are better suited for serious gym goers or those looking to step up their racing. These are not for kids, although those as young as 14 can compete in a Spartan Race. Some of these also include junior versions of the events for kids.
However, families can make a weekend vacation surrounding the trip to go to compete or support a family member. That’s a good way to spend time together and make memories associated with living healthy and fit lives.