Virginia 529 Kids Run
Held in conjunction with Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10K, this one-mile race caters to kids—and lots of 'em. (In 2013, 1,585 children aged 5 to 12 participated.) Before the race, youngsters warm up with such local mascots as WebstUR the Spider (University of Richmond) and Rodney the Ram (Virginia Commonwealth University). The flat course starts and ends on the VCU campus, where kids run through the same finish chute the grownups use, receiving medals. "Close to two thousand kids participate," says organizer Jackie Stoneburner. "They're so happy when they cross the finish line and high-five all the local mascots who showed up to run with them. We're big believers that good health decisions start during childhood, so this event is a great way for us to encourage children to think about physical activity in a fun way."
11 Miles to Paradise Trail Run
The 11 miles of scenic, rolling, singletrack trail through Lolo National Forest have drawn runners of all ages to this event for the past four years. But it's the catered after-party in the hot springs that keeps them around after crossing the finish line. "This race has an amazing course," says director Mike Foote, an accomplished ultrarunner. "But it really sets itself apart because of the fantastic post-race atmosphere at Quinn's Hot Springs. Everyone gets in the water, then enjoys a fantastic barbeque lunch."
The Spartan Race travels the country, providing contestants with a taste of its grueling but rewarding trials throughout the year. Spartan's official site refers to the race as "an event of pure primitive craziness," with participants crawling through mud and flipping over giant tires, among other challenges. Usually, no matter how wild and primitive you think your kid is, chances are that most serious obstacle races won't let them join in that level of fun. But the Spartan is different: race organizers offer children from 4 to 13 a shorter track of obstacles. Those younger than nine run half a mile; kids nine and up run a mile.
Spring Thaw Trail Run and MTB Race
Like singletrack? Like the East? How about mountain biking and trail running? If you said yes to any of the above, the Spring Thaw Trail Run and MTB races might be just the ticket. Six races take place over three days, so participants can opt to compete in individual running and mountain-biking events, or tackle the entire series and compete for the title of Trail Master. "It's perfect for the outdoor adventurer, with the variable of spring weather in the mix," says race director Michael Spiller. Though the post-race beer and food festivals draw the crowds, this venue is all about trails and the flexibility of having half a dozen unique events, on three different courses, to choose from.
Hy-Vee Kids Fit Championship Triathlon
Des Moines, Iowa
Thanks to its hefty cash prizes, the Olympic-distance Hy-Vee triathlon attracts elite athletes from across the globe. It attracts some pretty speedy kids too. Part of the Hy-Vee Kids Fit program, the championship triathlon is held at the 167-acre Gray's Lake Park. Be warned: Iowa can be hot in the summer, so dress appropriately and stay hydrated.
If you can't make this tri, check out other events in this series, which include 19 kids-only road races and six triathlons throughout Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
"Hy-Vee Kids Fit opens a new avenue for thousands of kids to get involved, to set personal fitness goals, and make the first step toward a lifetime of wellness," says Race Director Bill Burke.
Run Like a Mother
These events, which take place on Mother's Day in eight cities around the country, kick off with a kids' one-mile race that's chip-timed for the older, more competitive participants and partnered with parents for the younger ones. "The women's-only 5K is supported by a community cheering along the sidelines, with children holding up their customized Go Mom! signs, and it ends with a kids-moms 50-yard run into the post-race celebration," says founder Megan Searfoss. "Run Like a Mother inspires and encourages women and families to make running a part of their lives."
Next Up: For The Wee Ones