5 Running Events to Put on Your Calendar

Photo by Lisa Stonecipher

Flower Power

Following a freezing northwest winter, the city of Spokane greets springtime with a fantastically large road race. On May 6, you can join in the fun at the Lilac Bloomsday Run 12K, an event that boasts over 50,000 finishers. Along with the locals who come out in force to cheer along the racers, the 7.46-mile course is lined with 35 live bands. For the low $15 registration fee, runners can enjoy performances ranging from accordion oldies to alternative rock as they race toward the finish at Riverfront Park. The post-race party lasts well into the late afternoon with a giant food court and beer garden to satisfy the masses. Stick around town a few days longer and enjoy Spokane's Lilac Festival, the flowering event that gives the race its name. More info: (509) 838-1579, bloomsdayrun.org

Have Fun

Once a year, the beautiful mountain city of Boulder, Colorado is overrun—with runners. At the BolderBoulder 10K, roughly 54,000 athletes toe the line, a turnout totaling more than half the city's population. Claustrophobic have no need to fear, as the 10K boasts more waves than any other race in the world. Each small group starts with like-paced runners or walkers. Held on May 28, the BolderBoulder is a weekend-long event featuring an open-air expo, a pre-race dinner (PastaPasta) and a post-race party (BashBash). More info: (303) 444-7223, bolderboulder.com

Southern Hospitality

The very first Peachtree Road Race was held on July 4, 1970 when 110 runners raced 6.2 miles through Atlanta's city streets. Over the course of the past four decades, the 10K has exploded into a national sensation. Now the largest race in the nation and the largest 10K in the world, Peachtree currently hosts 60,000 runners every Independence Day. Register early to be entered in the race's lottery. If you're lucky enough to be picked to run, you'll enjoy the support of 3,000 volunteers serving 500,000 cups filled with 120,000 gallons of water. More info: (404) 231-9064, peachtreeroadrace.org

Luck of the Irish

Chicago natives take Saint Patrick's Day seriously. After parading down Columbus Avenue and dying the Chicago River kelly green on the holiday itself, they hit the streets a few days later for the giant Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle. The 8K race takes place on March 25, and will host upwards of 35,000 runners. Racers start and finish in Chicago's famed Grant Park, often called the city's "front yard." Olympians and weekend warriors alike can enjoy a fast, flat course and notoriously unpredictable weather—in 2009, racers ran through a blizzard; in 2011, temperatures soared to 80 degrees. More info: (312) 904-9814, shamrockshuffle.com

Reason to Run

In the aftermath of 9/11, Corporal Patrick Tillman abandoned his career as a professional football player to serve in the United States Army. In 2004, his life was cut tragically short after he was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. Today, his legacy lives on in Pat's Run, a 4.2-mile race that attracts more than 35,000 runners each year. On April 21, remember those who serve and support the Tillman Military Scholars program by running the Arizona event. Racers speed through the streets of Tempe to finish on the 42-yard line of Frank Kush Field, symbolic of Tillman's jersey (#42) when he played for the Arizona State Sun Devils. If you can't make it out west, you can participate in one of the 18 Pat's Run Shadow Runs that take place across the nation. More info: (480) 621-4074, patsrun.com

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Jessica Sebor is the editor in chief of Women's Running magazine.

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