It’s one thing to lace up your sneakers, put your game face on and run a 5K, but it’s quite another to complete a race dressed in a gorilla suit, or doused in glow-in-the-dark powder in the middle of the night while sprinting through black lights on your way to a rave. These themed races have taken off in recent years, gaining popularity around the country as “fun runs” spanning the gamut from clever and creative to completely insane. Here are 10 cool events taking place throughout autumn — plus, as an added incentive, a bonus when you cross the finish line.
1. Color Run
Nicknamed “the happiest 5K on the planet,” The Color Run is one of the more well-known races out there boasting an extra dash of character. This athletic event douses its participants in brightly colored powders reminiscent of those used each spring in Holi celebrations in India and Nepal. It’s held in multiple cities across the U.S. throughout the fall into December.
2. Blacklight Run
Right on the heels of The Color Run, another national series — The Blacklight Run — calls itself the “largest nighttime 5K in the country,” and ups the ante with two simple tweaks: moonlight and fluorescence. Make it all the way to the end, and you’ll find yourself at a rave complete with pulsing dance music.
3. Mud Run (now with pups!)
It’s not uncommon for dog owners to run with their four-legged friends tagging alongside them, but it’s pretty rare to bring them to an official race. In Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth and Nashville, Tenn., however, that’s exactly what the dog-friendly wave of the annual Mud Run is for: getting absolutely filthy while completing a 3.1-mile run with man’s best friend in tow (on a leash, of course).
4. Mutts on the Mountain
Another dog-themed fun run is the Mutts on the Mountain event in Peekskill, N.Y. While it’s decidedly less muddy than its southern counterparts, it claims to be the only pup-friendly race in the New York area; so, take note and register early.
5. Bras Across the Bay
Benefiting the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Bras Across the Bay 5K takes place in Panama City Beach, FL, and is held at night with glow-in-the-dark paint and accessories — bras optional but certainly encouraged.
Superheroes and high-speed running are two things that go together as naturally as peanut butter and jelly, so it makes perfect sense to see an army of Wonder Women, Batmen and other comic book favorites running down the street together, right? Right. The best part is, the Superhero Run in Austin, Texas, gets its start in the morning with a costume contest for the kiddos.
Austin takes its fun runs — and its costumes — pretty seriously, so it’s an ideal spot for the annual Gorilla Run, in which runners complete the 5K race in full gorilla or banana suits. It also benefits a worth cause — proceeds go to the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund.
If you’ve always wanted to re-enact Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video and run a race at the same time, here’s your (probably one-and-only) chance. The Zombie Run creeps into Gulfport, Miss., Jacksonville, Fla., and Pensacola, Fla., around Halloween and pits mere mortals against the undead in a Walking Dead-style survival course.
A far less terrifying event sprints into Middleton, Wis., over Halloween, and it’s even baby-friendly to boot. With costumes encouraged and s’mores at the end, the Haunted Hustle offers a “stroller derby” option for parents running with little ones.
Romp & Stomp
It may not be the wackiest event to make the list, but any race that ends with chili and bluegrass music is not to be ignored. That’s what greets runners in the festival after the finish line at Atlanta’s Chomp & Stomp, and its name deserves an honorable mention at the very least.
BONUS: Star Wars Half-Marathon, 10K and 5K
For those with whom the force is strong, the Star Wars Half-Marathon, 10K and 5K storm through Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., in January. The time will give Padawans ample time to complete their Jedi training before donning a race number and trekking (err, make that skywalking) their way to the finish line of their choosing.