7 of the Most Fun Running Races in the U.S.

Zombies, mud, doughnuts and Disney characters…running races may be a great way to stay in shape, but it’s also gotten weird in the past several years. Fortunately all that weird has also led to a lot of fun. Today’s American races are filled with the challenging, the unusual, and the hilarious. Check out some of the craziest below and see if any of them are near where you live!


1. Zombie Runs:

It’s hard to nail down a particular zombie run, because there are just so many in the United States, and your region probably has a unique version of its own. Run For Your Lives is a famous 5k that follows the zombie traditions – essentially, you get ready to run through the wilderness or residential districts, and are pursued (and sometimes “attacked”) by wailing zombie runners in the process. Red food dye is often involved, and a scary good time is had by all. Zombie Survival Dash is another popular version of the same run.

2. Color Runs:

Again, there are so many color runs it’s difficult to pick one out of the crowd. Geared toward those who like color and don’t mind making their clothes more interesting, the color run combines easy courses of just a few miles with powder dyes that are cast on the runners as they pass. You wear white shirts or clothing that comes with the race, and end up looking a little like a muddy rainbow. The Color Run, Color Me Rad, Run or Dye, Color Vibe…the trend is continuing too. Just remember to wear goggles or visors to protect your eyes, and know when to shut your mouth.

3. Tough Mudder:

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Tough Mudder has a lot of mud but is designed primarily as a very intense obstacle course as well as a lot of fun. The run is famed for its connection to the British Special Forces and involves plenty of climbing, crawling and endurance testing, all in the wet mud. Like other crazy runs, the Tough Mudder is usually a traveling circuit that focuses on outdoor-oriented cities, so check to see if one is coming near you. Only participate if you are in good physical condition, because the course is designed to be challenging and injuries do occur.

4. Spartan Race:

The Spartan Race is for people who find things like Tough Mudder a little too chill and wish they could run more dangerous stuff. It uses mud, barbed wire, walls, fire and other crazy accessories to spice up the endurance run. Races vary from a few miles up to 12 miles, with an increasing number of obstacles as well. Sign your waivers and take your chances – just make sure you love being athletic before you tackle it.

5. The Krispy Crème Challenge:

Bouncing back to the other side of crazy, this race uses one of the most beloved America junk foods, the Krispy Kreme doughnut. The charity run is sponsored by the doughnut maker and is five miles total. The goal is to run half, eat a dozen doughnuts, then run back, preferably without throwing up on your teammates. The money goes to a good cause, but if you’ve been waiting for an excuse to eat the whole box, you may need to take a trip. This run happens in North Carolina.

6. The Walt Disney Marathon:

Held in Disney theme parks once or twice a year, this run is easy to explain. Run through the theme parks, dodge famous Disney characters, and earn Disney swag. Several different marathons are available if you can’t get enough Disney.

7. Emerald Nuts Midnight Run:

This very specific run occurs in New York City on New Year’s Eve, and gives people an alternative to crushing crowds and too much partying. It takes you through Central on a 4-mile run that encourages dressing up (but not drinking) and will take you through ringing the New Year in.

About the Author:

Jessica Henderson is a Social Media Intern at The Rock N’ Roll Marathon series holding marathons around the world. 2014 series starts off with a marathon in Phoenix Arizona on January 19th.

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