Inspired By The NYC Marathon? Here Are 10 Beginner-Friendly Races You Can Tackle

Illustrated by Jenny Kraemer.
Chances are your Instagram feed is flooded with incredible pictures from the TCS NYC Marathon yesterday. Or, perhaps you’re still looking through photos from San Francisco race that gives runners a Tiffany’s necklace at the end. Chalk it up to a mix of motivation and competition, but now you’re determined to sign up for a race (go you!).
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All over the country, there are shorter (read: not 26.2 miles), but just as fun, races that are perfect for beginners. They range from breezing by holiday lights to racing to a chocolate-party at the finish line. Come this time next year, you’ll be the one posting your very own finisher’s medal picture.
1. Mermaid Series (multiple cities)
Race Distance: 5K, 10K, half-marathon
Why it's a great choice: No matter what distance you choose for this women-only race series, you’ll soak up gorgeous views as you support fellow female runners.
2. Electric Run (multiple cities)
Race Distance: 5K
Why it's a great choice: Always wanted to go to an EDM concert without all the screaming teens? Well, this run is your chance. Don glow sticks, neon and reflective apparel, and enjoy music and lights all along this course. It’s like running (or walking) through a giant rave.
3. Carlsbad 5000
Race Distance: 5K
Why it's a great choice: This breathtaking, seaside course is dubbed the “world’s fastest 5K” thanks to its mostly flat race route — 16 world records have been set here. So, you’ll get all of the glory, without an uphill struggle.
4. The Color Run (multiple cities)
Race Distance: 5K
Why it's a great choice: Get doused in colored dyes when you hit different stations along the “happiest 5K on the planet,” and see why this race has gone global. The Color Run has a no-pressure feel to it (it’s not timed), and you can walk it, too. By the end, you’ll look like a giddy piece of chalk art.
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5. Hot Chocolate 15/5K (multiple cities)
Race Distance: 5K or 15K
Why it's a great choice: One word: chocolate. Even if you didn't indulge much while training, your motivation as you run can be the chocolate-fueled post-party at the finish line. Your “finisher mug” is filled with chocolate fondue, dip-able snacks and decadent hot chocolate.
6. Turkey Trot (multiple cities)
Race Distance: 5K
Why it's a great choice: No matter where you call home for the holidays, you have hundreds of race options since Turkey Trots are held everywhere (i.e. not just in major cities). Use the link above to find a race near you. And, that second (or third) slice of pumpkin pie? You’ve earned it.
7. Jingle Bell Run/Walk (multiple cities)
Race Distance: 5K
Why it's a great choice: Break out your most festive Santa hat (one with a bell, please) for this frosty run. As an added bonus, proceeds go to help the Arthritis Foundation find a cure for the disease.
8. New York Road Runners Midnight Run (NYC)
Race Distance: Four miles
Why it's a great choice: Start your new year off right by crossing that “run a road race” resolution off the list as soon as the clock strikes midnight! At four miles, it’s slightly longer than your average 5K. But, you always set the bar high for your resolutions, right? If you’re not in NYC and still want a healthy kick-off to the new year, try the nationwide Commitment Day 5K event series.
9. Cupid’s Undie Run (multiple cities)
Race Distance: About a mile
Why it's a great choice: Drop your pants, but leave your sneakers on. Cupid’s Undie Run is only a “mile-ish” — in their words — and perfect for the beginner who isn’t shy. This race also benefits the Children’s Tumor Foundation, so you can feel good about running through the city streets in your underwear.
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10. Awesome ‘80s Fun 5K (multiple cities in California)
Race Distance: 5K
Why it’s a great choice: You already own neon sneakers, so just tease your hair and put on some blue eyeshadow for this totally rad race. Too bad it’s by foot only — it’d be the perfect place to bust out the inline skates.
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