Sure, it’s easy to write out a check for a good cause, but why not get outside, get moving, and give back? These 10 spring races support local and national charities — from a 5K in support of animal rescue (costumed pets included) to a foam-filled run for kids in need. Or for a real change of pace, hit the Wings for Life starting line and — rather than racing toward the finish — let the finish line catch up to you! While the themes and charities are all different, each of these races has the same goal in mind: helping others. So dust off those sneakers, and get ready to make a difference!
Note: Each of the below events take place this May and June, and are listed by date. While we couldn’t include each and every charitable race we love, this list reflects a mix of our editorial team’s top picks — big and small — that support a variety of great causes across the country. Don’t see your pick? Share it in the comments below.
Location: Chicago, IL
Date: May 3, 2014
Glo big or go home! With no clock or chip timing, this night run (with more than 15 locations nationwide) is all about having fun. Runners can expect lots of flashing lights, plenty of music, and of course, glow in the dark gear is strongly recommended. Fundraising for the Chicago 5K benefits Back on My Feet, a national nonprofit that provides the homeless with financial aid, job training, and access to employment opportunities.
Location: Brookhaven, GA
Date: May 3, 2014
Lace up your sneaks for a scenic 5K course that winds through beautiful Brookhaven, Georgia, to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in the fight against blood cancer. Since its inaugural 2006 run, this popular event — sponsored by Nike and Atlanta’s own Big Peach Running Co. — has raised more than $120,000. And hey, since it poured over the race course last year it won’t rain this year, right? (Fingers crossed!)
Locations: 35 locations, 6 continents
Date: May 4, 2014
Start your engines and keep away from the finish line? The first annual Wings for Life World Race is, well, a little unconventional. Hundreds of runners will race at the same time at 35 different cities across the world — from Santa Clarita, California to Auckland, New Zealand. A half hour after the start signal, “catcher cars” set off to chase the participants. At timed intervals, the cars bump up their pace, inching closer and closer to the leaders of the pack. Better keep up though, once the car catches up to you, that’s your finish line. All proceeds go toward Wings for Life, a foundation that funds research into finding a cure for spinal cord injury.
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Date: May 4, 2014
Smack dab in the middle of Universal Studios Backlot, this 5K course travels through iconic movie sets including Amityville Island from Jaws, Spartacus Square and Dr. Suess’s Whoville. Funds from the third annual Miles for Melanoma race benefits research, education and advocacy for melanoma. Top fundraisers also get access to a VIP tent, so start raising that cash for the true Hollywood treatment! And if this race wasn’t already appealing enough, just remember — once it’s over, you can check out the rest of the park’s attractions.
Location: Indianapolis, IN
Date: May 10, 2014
This Mother’s Day, make your Mama proud at this mud-filled 5K to benefit the Hollis Adams Foundation, devoted to bettering the lives of adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The Mudder’s Day course features 15 obstacles — including rope climbs, barb wire crawls and tight rope walks, to name a few — all of which will no doubt turn you 50 shades of brown from head to toe. Clean off then cool down with a post-race cold one from Bier Brewery.
RELATED: The 13 Most Epic Mud Runs
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
Date: May 17, 2014
Dust off that Superwoman cape or Spidey mask for this race of heroic proportions. The lakeside 5K benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, dedicated to finding a cure for the genetic chronic disease that affects 30,000 people in the U.S. And don’t forget, prizes will be awarded for best costume, so don’t skimp on the Lycra.
Location: Orlando, FL
Date: May 17, 2014
Bring along your furry friend for the first annual Run for Rescues. Two-legged and four-legged racers are encouraged to dress their finest for the 5K and one miler races — tutus, tiaras and bow ties included. After the race, head over to the “pup-arazzi”-filled red carpet or visit the cats and dogs up for adoption. Fido could always use a friend, right? All proceeds raised help pets through the SPCA of Central Florida.
Location: Raleigh, NC
Date: June, 14, 2014
Race for the Cure, Susan G. Komen Foundation’s biggest annual fundraising event (with dozens of locations world wide), is all about celebrating survivors of breast cancer, honoring those who’ve lost their battle, and raising awareness. This race is open to all fitness levels — in fact, 90 percent of the race’s participants choose to walk rather than run. The option is yours! Fun fact: While the course itself isn’t a triangle, the race gets its name from Raleigh’s Research Triangle Park.
9. 5K Foam Fest
Location: 34 locations
Date: Various dates
Foam, mud and water are integral to this messy but oh-so-fun run. Prepare for obstacles including climbing walls, ropes, squirt guns and… a chamber of foam! In partnership with A Child’s Hope Foundation, the proceeds from this 5K help provide housing and basic necessities to orphaned children in developing countries.
Location: Ft. Collins, CO
Date: June 22, 2014
This 5K race honors the memory of Khylee Monson, a young girl who battled an incurable form of brain cancer. Khylee loved to dress up, so runners are encouraged to do the same. All proceeds benefit The Cure Starts Now Foundation — a charity seeking to cure pediatric brain cancer.