The holiday season makes for the perfect time to give back! And what better way to help those in need than doing your own body some good while you’re at it? These charity races, from 5K runs to 500-mile bike rides, will get you up and out while supporting cancer research, diabetes prevention and more. Take time today to add a few of these events (listed by date) to your 2017 race schedule. And let’s take one step forward, together!
Exercise for a Cause: 11 Charity Races that Give Back
Locations: 33 cities across the U.S.
When: February 11, 2017
Charity: Community Options, Inc, an organization dedicated to developing housing and employment opportunities for people with disabilities
This 3.2-miler welcomes walkers, runners, joggers, strollers and wheelchairs to conquer the course. Each participant is encouraged to set up an individual fundraiser, complete with cool swag to keep you reaching for more donation dollars. And you only need to hit $50 to snag the first-level prize. Just make sure to sport your best reds and pinks on race day.
Locations: 16 cities across the U.S.
When: February and March, 2017
Charity: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, a private research hospital at the forefront of finding treatments for rare cancers
The energy at these indoor cycling events is always through the roof. That’s probably because most riders form teams with their friends, family or colleagues and take turns riding and cheering throughout the day. Plus, Equinox instructors pump up the crowds. Each bike has a minimum funding requirement of $1,000, but the average amount most teams raise is roughly five times that. All funds go directly toward finding a cure for cancer, so why not have some fun pedaling it out for the cause?
Locations: 41 cities across the U.S.
When: February through November, 2017
Charity: Hosted by the Colon Cancer Coalition, which works to encourage screenings and raise awareness about colorectal cancer by funding local campaigns
This event launched in 2005 in the Twin Cities and has since gone on to become one of the top initiatives to educate the public on colon cancer. With 40 run/walks and three cycling events, everyone can get involved, no matter your preferred form of exercise or your skill level. And by participating, know you’re furthering the Colon Cancer Coalition’s number-one goal: to raise screening rates to 80 percent by 2018.
4. Tour de Cure
Locations: 76 cities across the U.S.
When: March to December, 2017
Charity: American Diabetes Association, supporting diabetes research and advocacy
More than 29 million Americans suffer from diabetes. Join the ride that aims to prevent the disease and you could help save countless lives. Each event offers a few distances — anywhere from three miles to 100 — so cyclists of all abilities can pedal along. The minimum fundraising requirement varies from city to city, but most average about $200. And with your charity dollar, you get a few perks like free breakfast, rest stops along the routes with food and drinks and a party at the finish line.
Locations: Sunrise, FL, Santa Clarita, CA and 23 cities abroad
When: May 7, 2017
Charity: 100 percent of the entry fee goes to the Wings for Life Foundation, which funds research for spinal cord injury treatment
Think of this as a race in reverse. Instead of trekking toward the finish line, you try to stay ahead of the “catcher car” that’s chasing you from behind. The race welcomes runners and wheelchair competitors across all locations, plus anyone who wants to run solo and record it as a selfie. The coolest part? Everyone starts at exactly the same time, 11 a.m. UTC. (Yup, that can mean a 3 a.m. start time for our friends in Los Angeles!) The farthest anyone has gotten: just under 40 miles, completed by Aron Anderson, a wheelchair athlete, in 2015.
Locations: Boston, MA, Portland, OR and Boise, ID
When: May 21, 2017, Fall 2017 and TBD (respectively)
Charity: Any non-profit the participant chooses
Unlike the races on this list that donate money to a specific organization, this fairly new event lets you choose the cause you care most about, as long as it’s a Guidestar-registered 501-c-3 charitable organization. Half of your registration fee (at least $15) — and any money raised on your donation page — then goes to the charity of your choice. Can’t make it to the race near you? Sign up to run it wherever you may be. Each location offers 150 virtual participants.
Put this on your list of long-distance race goals. The seven-day bike ride spans 545 miles, as you pedal through a good chunk of California, stopping to set up tents along the way. In its 15th year, more than 32,000 people have hopped on a two-wheeler for this trek and raised a minimum $3,000 before doing so. That’s led to a total $220 million in donations since 1993.
Locations: More than 100 cities across the U.S.
When: July through December 2017
Charity: Arthritis Foundation, which helps give the arthritis community more access to information, resources, care, science on treatments and support within their communities
This festive event kicks off with a few Christmas-in-July events and spreads to several other cities throughout the holiday season. Runners don elf costumes, Santa outfits and lots of red, green, blue and bells to complete the 5K. The organizers recommend a minimum fundraising goal of $150.
Locations: Atlanta, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, Twin Cities and Michigan (Novi to Dearborn)
When: August through November 2017
Charity: Susan G. Komen, which supports breast cancer awareness and research
Participants cover 20 miles a day in this three-day walking affair — an event that’s already raised $800 million in cancer research, particularly treatment programs, since 2003. The reason they’ve reached such high numbers? They’ve had more than 500,000 walkers and each person has to a raise a minimum of $2,300. Talk about setting big goals.
Locations: Brooklyn and Whitesboro, NY, Savannah, GA and Litchfield, CT
When: September 2017
Charity: Tell Every Amazing Lady about Ovarian Cancer Louisa M. McGregor Ovarian Cancer Foundation, which aims to promote awareness, raise research and support survivors of ovarian cancer
Since the first event in 2009, this race has funneled in more than $1 million in funds, included more than 9,900 participants and expanded from just one race in Brooklyn to three other locations. Grab your girlfriends for the 2.5-mile walk in support of women’s health or sign up for the 5K run if you want a little more sweat on race day.
Locations: 60 cities in the U.S.
When: September 2017
Charity: St. Jude’s Children Hospital, a free hospital for kids battling cancer, which also researches treatments
St. Jude’s depends on fundraisers like this walk/run to provide care to kids with cancer. Donated dollars mean parents won’t ever get a bill for treatment, travel or even housing and food while their kid gets care. The hospital has also helped increase the childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since it opened in 1962. And because this event takes place in 30 states, you can sign up, start collecting donations, and hit the ground running (or walking).