July is the height of the summer racing season, and if you're not already in great shape, this list of nine races can provide plenty of training motivation. There's challenging trail races, night runs and muddy obstacle races to sign up for, so if you're healthy, there's no reason to sit on the sidelines this summer.
Note: some races on this list could be sold out or have registration periods that have ended, but we included them here because, if you're a planner, there's always next year. This list also doesn't include Fourth of July events, but to view a list of suggested holiday runs, check out our family-friendly guide to Fourth of July runs.
Dirty Dozen & Half Dozen Endurance Races
Find out if you have the guts to run for 12 hours straight, or take a more relaxed approach and take turns with a relay team during the 12- or 6-hour endurance runs at the Dirty Dozen & Half Dozen Endurance Races in Pinole, California, on July 6. If running all day isn't your thing, sign up for one or more of the 5K or 10K races (there's two races of each distance; runners can participate in all four if they choose). Your race entry includes access to an all-day barbecue, where you can refuel and meet other runners.July 12, 2013
PA Trails Challenge Night Series
One runner pairs with one driver/support person to complete three races totaling 26.2 miles in three locations with one overnight stay. Runners begin at Ridley Creek State Park for an 8.4-mile run, then travel to Valley Forge State Park (travel time between runs isn't counted toward total run time) for 4.8 miles, then Wissahickon for the final 13 miles. This self-supported event is a good toe-in-the-water test to see if you'd enjoy putting in more miles at an ultramarathon someday.
More: Summer 5Ks and 10KsJuly 13, 2013
Run for the Hills Mud Run
Support local agriculture at this 5K mud run and kids mud run. Help raise funds for the Okaloosa County Farm Bureau. All obstacles are farm-related, and proceeds will go to support agricultural programs for kids.July 13, 2013
The Electric Run Portland
Like a rave for runners, this neon-loving series makes its way to the Pacific Northwest this month. Participants are encouraged to wear brightly colored clothing and as many neon glow sticks as possible. The 5K course features lights, dancing and music.July 20, 2013
Atwood Stadium 5K & 10K Run/Walk
This family-friendly event includes a 5K and 10K run and walk as well as a kids' touchdown dash, where each child participant is given a souvenir football to carry from goal post to goat post at Atwood Stadium.
More: 8 Family Fun Runs