Why run the same ol’ 5K when you can race in a bunny costume or, er, in your birthday suit? Whether you’re looking to dress up, get slimed, tackle obstacles, or get in on some unlimited Twinkie action, our roundup of the most incredible themed races around has something for everyone.
When putting this list together, the fun factor was first and foremost, but we also considered the swag bags, after parties, locations, charitable affiliations, and, of course the hilarious memories you’ll collect along with your finisher medal. So lace up those kicks (and maybe start working on your gag reflex), because we’re off!
EAT AND RUN
1. April Fool’s Day Twinkie Run
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Twinkies are a serious matter—you saw how people lost it when the factory shutdown was announced—and this event honors the legendary shortcake snack. Runners are treated to unlimited Twinkies at the starting line and then let loose to run a 5K through Ann Arbor’s Gallup Park. For those who need to refuel, the spongy cakes are available at the 1.5-mile mark, and again at the finish line as a…recovery snack. Be sure to pace yourself though; there are even more Twinkies post-race (those ones are homemade and more decadent than you’d ever believe). This run, now in its fifth year, is organized byAnn Arbor Active Against ALS.
2. Hot Chocolate 5K/15K
Distance: 5K and 15K
Nothing compares to the sweet warmth of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day, except for maybe the Hot Chocolate 15/5K Finisher’s Mug filled with chocolate fondue, dip-able snacks and, of course, hot chocolate. But first you’ve got to go the distance: 3.1 miles or 9.3 miles, through your city of choice (Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco among 10 others). Now in its sixth year, the run draws more than 200,000 chocolate lovers nationwide, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
3. Krispy Kreme Challenge
Distance: 5 miles
Location: Raleigh, NC
Who doesn’t dream of a doughnut break during their run? But a dozen doughnuts?! Those who accept the Krispy Kreme Challenge will never look at the sweet treat the same way again. The run kicks off on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh and directs sugar-hungry challengers 2.5 miles through historic downtown Raleigh to a Krispy Kreme shop where they devour one dozen original glazed doughnuts before trudging the 2.5 miles back to campus. Catch is, you’ve got to finish the run—and every last doughnut—in less than an hour to be recognized as a challenger. If you’re not into downing 2,280 calories all at once you can register as a casual runner, which merely requires you to balance the box all the way back to the finish line. This event is in its 10th year and benefits the North Carolina Children’s Hospital.
4. New York Hot Dog Challenge
Distance: 3 to 5 miles
Location: New York, NY
Some hot dog-eating competitions are for amateurs, and others are for champions—as in those of you who can down 10 hot dogs (buns and all) while hustling along a 3-to-5-mile course through busy Midtown Manhattan. Participants race from hot dog vendor to hot dog vendor, but they don’t know where the vendors will be set up until race day (event organize keep the course map secret to prevent practice runs). Participants are assigned a referee to ensure each dog is completely devoured before runners head to the next cart. Runners have to fork over the dough for each dog, so sponsorship is allowed. Oh, and puking disqualifies you.
5. NYC Pizza Run
Distance: 2.25 miles
Location: New York, NY
Who serves New York City’s best slice will probably always be up for debate, but what you can find out for sure is whether or not you’re able to scarf down three slices while running 2.25 miles through the gritty streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The NYC Pizza Run is an annual challenge held in Tompkins Square Park (four laps around the park, counterclockwise) in which you must finish a slice (crust and all) at the start of each lap before continuing onto the next. The first runner to finish is crowned the NYC Pizza Run Champion and the fun continues down the block at Common Ground, a local pub, where participants get a free drink to wash it all down. Now in its fifth year, a portion of the run’s proceeds benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International.
To see the rest – go visit the 29 Most Incredible Theme Races List!