Need a fitness goal this fall? Why not run or walk a 5K? This 3.1- mile distance is much more attainable than a marathon, and most people can complete a 5K with just a little training. If you’re new to running, Josh Clark, founder of the popular Couch to 5K program, encourages starting slow and allowing two months to progress from couch potato to racer. As he says, “many newcomers to running become discouraged by the difficulty associated with the activity because they start too fast and push too hard.”
If you’re looking to give one a try, or are an avid runner just looking for a fun race, here are a few of the most unusual 5Ks in Hampton Roads this autumn.
Run for the Hills, Oct. 14, 2017, Williamsburg, VA
All proceeds benefit Here for the Girls, Inc., improving the lives of young women affected by breast cancer through Beyond Boobs! and Pink Link. Contact Vicki Vawter@hereforthegirls.org for information. 10K, 5K, 1 mile Fun Run or Virtual Run.
Joggin’ for Frogmen, Oct.21, Virginia Beach, VA
This 5K raises money for the Navy SEAL Foundation, which helps SEALs and their families. In addition to the 5K, kiddos can compete in a shorter Tadpole Trot, adults can relax in the beer garden and everybody can enjoy skydiving performances. WAVY-TV 10 anchor Deanna Leblanc, herself a military spouse, will be master of ceremonies at the run. A virtual option allows people who can’t participate to help fundraise and receive their medal and t-shirt in the mail. Cost: Civilians, $40; Active Duty Military, $35; Under 6 Tadpole Trotters, $10
Hilton Hustle 5K, Oct. 28, Newport News, VA
Parents can understand the importance of a strong PTA. Come support Hilton Elementary School’s PTA in their biggest annual fundraiser. This year marks their fourth annual 5K and 1 mile fun run, and the school’s 98th year of educating local children. The race course winds through Historic Hilton Village, built in 1918 and on the National Register of Historic Places. Runners can enter the contest for craziest socks, wildest tutu, best costume and most creative. Cost: $35 for 5K, $15 for 1 mile
Swampathon 2017, Oct. 28, Chesapeake, VA
Runners will enjoy fall foliage while running on a paved trail through the scenic and historic Dismal Swamp. People once believed the swamp’s ambertinted water promoted health and longevity. Nowadays, running by the swamp is a wellness activity. The run ends at the Annual Dismal Swamp Art Festival, so tuck some bills in a hidden pocket for art shopping. This year, a 1K Mutt Run means your dog can race, too, and part of the entry fee will go to the Chesapeake SPCA. Nice, leashed dogs only, please. Cost: 5K, $30; Mutt Run, $40.
Big Turkey Burn 5K and Kid’s Fun Run, Nov. 23, Williamsburg, VA
All over the US, early morning Thanksgiving turkey trots help people assuage their guilt about overeating. Get your day off to a calorie-burning start on the trails of Williamsburg’s New Town while benefiting Williamsburg Meals on Wheels and R.F. Wilkinson Family YMCA. Finishers will receive medals. Cost: 5K, $35; Youth race, $15.
Fast Before the Feast, Nov. 23, Newport News, VA
Newport News is hosting a similar Thanksgiving 5K. Expect scenic fall foliage as you run or walk the roads of Mariners’ Museum Park. This race benefits the Virginia Peninsula Food Bank. Note: Only 800 participants allowed, and there will be no day-of registration, so plan ahead. Cost: $25
Jingle Bell Run, Dec. 2 & 10, Richmond, Virginia Beach & Newport News, VA
Ushering in the Christmas season, runners tie jingle bells to their sneakers, pull on their Santa hats to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation. This long-standing, nationwide 5K race series makes sure that all of your registration fee goes to charity. On the 2nd, the Richmond run leaves from Mary Munford Elementary School, while Virginia Beach runners meet up at 24th Street Park. On the 10th, the Newport News run is held at City Center at Oyster Point. Cost: Adults, $35; Kids 12 and under, $25.
Tacky Sweater 5K, Dec. 9, Norfolk, VA
With a slogan like “Live, love and run tacky,” you know this will be a fun 5K to run or watch. The flat course starts at Ocean View Beach Park and has separate categories for walkers and runners. If you’re not fast, vie for the tackiest sweater prize instead. Proceeds benefit Edmarc Children’s Hospice and EVMS Melanoma Awareness. Cost: $35
Ready to run? Still need help with a training plan? There are a slew of apps out there that can provide couch to 5K tips and inspiration.