Thursday, July 3, 2014

Let's Get Running! Here are 8 of My Favorite US Races

8 of My Favorite Races to Run Around the U.S.

I’ve been running for 22 years. I truly love it. The entire experience … the scenery, the community, the sweat … brings me back for more. And although nothing can compare to competing in the Olympic Games, many of my dry-land finish-line moments have come pretty damn close. Here are my top 8 running races I LOVE the most.

1. The NYC Marathon

The city, the crowd, the neighborhoods, and the finish! I lived in NYC for eight years, and I love going back. There is an electricity that you feel every day in the city but on marathon day, it is AWESOME. And it certainly fuels you while you are running. When it comes to the finish, nothing will force you to dig deeper than a true New Yorker yelling for you to RUNNNNN!
NYC Marathon '99 pic

2. The Boston Marathon

Because it’s Boston and you qualified. It is a bucket list race for sure. To experience the love and support from everyone along the 26.2 course from Hopkinton to Boyston St. is truly remarkable and one of the kind. You are literally running just outside their front door, and they love and support you for it. Many open up their homes at the start for bathroom breaks, sunscreen, water, snacks, or just a needed good luck hug.
Boston Marathon '13 pic

3. The Runner’s World Festival (the hat trick)

I must admit, I had my doubts I could finish all three races last year but I did, and I loved it. In two days, you will run a 5K, a 10K, and a half marathon. (The first two happening on the first day). It is a true celebration of running and the running community all in the perfectly hilly town of Bethlehem, PA. Kids have races, dogs have races, there is celebrating and dancing and yoga … basically everything you could want in a wonderfully competitive yet relaxed environment. And now, there is another Festival in Boston at “Heartbreak Hill” in June.

4. The Color Run

Because it’s beautiful. Beautiful in color and spirit. My kids are still talking about the “paint run” as they call it. And, their shoes continue to remind them of that awesome day with the never ending tie-dye that imprints their socks. This un-timed, non-competitive 5K is tagged “The Happiest 5K on the Planet” and, so far, I agree. The goal is to fill you blank canvas, you body, with splashes and splashes of powdered color until the big finish when every 15 minutes they have a giant color release by the packed crowds near the stage. It’s a 5K event. Tips though, if you have color treated hair (especially blond) wear a hat as a precaution. Plan to throw away most of your clothes … washing does work but only for another color run. Find one of the many blowers they have at the finish to blow the paint off of you before getting in your car. Close your mouth through the color shoots and let your inner child shine bright! Kids are in love with this race so make it for the whole family.

5. Bay to Breakers

Bay to Breakers is the oldest consecutively run foot race in the world.” Everyone should experience this 102-year-old race at least once. I used to do this with my dad and his friends for his gym, Kangaroo Courts. We would dress up and run the 12 kilometers with a guy in a Kangaroo outift. I have seen runners dressed up as almost everything from babies and super heroes to Presidents and streakers. Yes, when you are in San Francisco, you must embrace the awesome variety of the city … and that is what makes me LOVE this race. It also brings me back home. My heart really does love all the Bay Area and SF in particular.

6. Running with Ed

This race is near and dear to my heart, because it is our local relay race and public school education fundraiser. The race was started by a Park City fella who loves running, has kids in public school, and runs a business in town. Running With Ed is now in it’s 5th year. Last year, we raised over $220,000 for the Park City Education Foundation, which helps with the cost of physical fitness, science, and art programs in public schools. (Learn more here.) This race is a mini-Ragnar that cruises 38 miles through Park City’s streets and trails linking all the public schools. The longest leg is 6.8 miles and toughest takes you from the base all the way to the top of Olympic Park!

7. Disney Kids!

The options are endless when it comes to the RunDisney family of events. My son and I did the Disney Epcot 5K, and then the next day I ran the Disney Princess Half. All the park to yourself and your fellow runners?! I think that is almost everyone’s childhood dream! There are a couple great things that stand out with these races. First, they always start early to help beat the heat and to finish before the park opens. Secondly, you truly get to see the parks differently. Imagine, no crowds, no lines, just the awesome sound of pounding feet and some cheering as you run by. Plus, there is so much to look at during the run that your attention is easily diverted from the pain, distance, heat, or whatever ailment could be overtaking your mind. I even got a picture with a few characters just before the finish of my half! And because my race started so early, I finished and was back at the hotel before my son woke up. We then enjoyed a day at the park! Fun for everyone.

8. Nike Women’s Half-Marathon in San Francisco

October in San Francisco people … that should be enough to sell you on this race. But just in case you are still on the fence, how bout a Tiffany’s necklace as your finishers medal awarded to you by a firefighter dressed in a tuxedo. I am not making this up, ladies! This is your reality if you are one of the 25,000 women and 1,000 men to make it into this fabulous race! I ran this in 2012 one day after my 40th birthday. And according to 1984 Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit-Samuelson, I need to get my butt back! You shouldn’t mess with your heroes!

Which one of these races would you want to race? Tell me in the comments!

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