Great races for families to enjoy
By Dave Parfitt
runDisney (Preston Mack Courtesy of runDisney)
With all the electronic gadgets in front of our kids, parents are always looking for ways to encourage healthy activity. More and more families are considering a “Destination Race” as the centerpiece to their family vacation. Perhaps Mom or Dad are training to finish a marathon, and want to celebrate with their family after crossing the finish line. Better yet, find a race the kids are excited to run, and spend quality family time training together in the weeks and months leading up to the event. Take a look at our list of races that could serve as the focal point for your family run-cation.
Magic every mile is the mantra of runDisney races, and with courses winding through princess castles, fantasy lands, and character lined streets of Disney theme parks, it’s easy to plaster a smile on your face. The runDisney race series consists of eight race weekends spread over the year including the crown jewel Walt Disney World Marathon in Florida as well as the highly themed Avengers Super Heroes and Star Wars Half Marathons, both staged at California’s Disneyland Resort. runDisney races are extremely beginner friendly, and family fun run 5Ks and kids races make runDisney events perfect for the whole family. Plus, it’s simple to package your race and theme park reservations together to make a seamless family vacation.
Tinker Bell Half Marathon (Run Disney)
According to Running USA, 57% of race finishers are women, and event organizers are specifically catering to women with jewelry prizes, chocolate, wine and roses. runDisney has two women-only races of their own with the Princess Half Marathon weekend at Walt Disney World and Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland. In addition, there’s Iron Girl, See Jane Run, and Divas Half Marathon series taking place throughout the year at various locations all across the country. The largest female-centric event is October’s Nike Women’s Marathon and Half Marathon in San Francisco, California. If you’re one of the 20,000+ to complete the course, you’re rewarded with a Tiffany pendant – and yes, it comes in their signature blue box. So gather your extended family and add chocolate, champagne, running, and massages for lots of mom/daughter bonding.
Rock ‘N’ Roll Races
San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon (Courtesy of Competitor Group Inc. )
If you’re more “a little bit Rock ‘n’ Roll,” then perhaps Competitor group’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathons are more your style. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half Marathons capture the energy and vibe of a rock concert throughout the 26.2 or 13.1 mile course. The series’ headliner is the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and half in San Diego, California late May/early June. The inaugural San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon burst onto the scene in 2008 with 18,000 participants, live bands and cheerleaders every mile, and a finish line festival featuring a spotlight big name concert. Over the years, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series has expanded, and includes “tour stops,” all across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and even four races in Europe. Running, music, and great destinations like Phoenix, Arizona in January, Madrid, Spain in April, and a night time race down the Las Vegas strip in November, all sound like the perfect ingredients for a rockin’ (and running) family vacation.
Stand-Alone Destination Races
Wherever you want to vacation, chances are you can find a destination race to serve as the center of your trip. Hawaii, California, the Caribbean, and even cruise ships all host fantastic running events (see Great Alaskan Running Cruise for one example at sea).
Honolulu Marathon (Honolulu Marathon )
Considering taking the family to Hawaii for the holidays? December’s Honolulu Marathon might fit the bill; with no cut off time to finish the race, Honolulu typically attracts 30,000 runners and walkers each year.
Big Sur International Marathon (Courtesy of Big Sur International Marathon)
Repeatedly voted as one of the most scenic races in the country (if not the world), the Big Sur International Marathon winds its way along California’s Pacific Coast Highway hugging the contours of rocky cliffs.
Canada’s oldest and largest race is the Vancouver Marathon, known for panoramic city views, blooming cherry trees, and a scenic coastline. Vancouver’s noted family-friendly outdoor attractions will tire out the kids while you burn energy on the course.
Spring break in the Caribbean can be healthy too during the Puerto Rico Marathon. After the race, treat your family (and your legs) to a soak in one of the island’s remarkable bioluminescent bays or relax on the beach, and remember no U.S. passport is required for this rich cultural running vacation.
(MORE: See more active and outdoorsy vacations ideas for the whole family.)
Finally, a running event doesn’t have to go the full marathon or half marathon distance to get the family moving. Mud races, color runs, foam fests, scavenger hunts, obstacle courses, and zombie dashes are all fun for kids (and parents), and perfect ways to encourage fitness during your vacation. With a little advance research and planning, it’s simple to find the perfect race at your vacation destination to match your family’s interests and abilities.
Dave Parfitt of Adventures by Daddy contributed this to MiniTime.