The Naked Foot 5K: A Family-Friendly Race Series

Children aged 12 and under race for free at this fun, two-day family event held across nine states. Children can run a 1K, or a 5K distance. The 5K is also open to adults of all abilities, shod or barefoot.

This barefoot-friendly race series encourages families to embrace a healthy lifestyle and give back to their communities. They have also partnered with Kids Running America to provide a healthy and safe training plan that any child can use to run a marathon distance over the course of 10 weeks. The Naked Foot 5K will be 3 miles toward that goal.

The purpose is to help fight childhood obesity, which has more than tripled in the past 30 years according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More: 3 Ways to Train for Your 5K

The family-friendly course will be kept a secret until race day, but participants are encouraged to prepare for a cross-country-like, adventurous route. Families will also enjoy post-race festivities that include music, foot massages, foot painting, and prizes.

If you're curious about barefoot running, you can participate in a variety of free clinics held throughout the day. You will learn about the benefits of running barefoot, how to run with proper form, and how to prevent injuries.

More: 6 Barefoot Running Tips for Beginners

"Almost daily I meet someone who is able to run because they tried barefoot/minimalist running," says Lauren Jones, co-founder of the Naked Foot 5K. "Sometimes it is someone who thought they would never run again due to an injury and others simply hated running because it was hard or it hurt.

I'm not just hearing it from one or two people, I am hearing the same story over and over. How barefoot/minimalist running helped them run, not just pain and injury free, but brought the joy and love for running back. Regardless of the results of research into barefoot and minimalist running, it's getting people out running."

If you prefer shoes, you can still enjoy the expo, find eco-friendly businesses, enjoy organic foods, and more. All runners are welcome.

More: 6 Reasons to Run a 5K

"This run is all about having fun and feeling free," says Jones. "Remember what it felt like as a child, running in the grass in the summertime, or the first five minutes at the beach and the mad dash to take off your shoes and run in the sand? This is what the Naked Foot 5k is all about. We want people to have fun doing something different."

On the day of the event, the Naked Foot 5K will be collecting gently worn footwear and donations for Soles4Souls. These donations will be shipped to victims of natural disasters or people living in extreme poverty.

The race dates for 2012 are:

?    May 26:  Salt Lake City, Utah
?    June 23-24: Washington, D.C.
?    July 21: Denver, Colorado
?    July 26: Minneapolis, Minnesota
?    July 29: Grand Rapids, Michigan
?    September 15: Nashville, Tennesse
?    September 29: Seattle, Washington
?    October 6: Austin, Texas
?    October 27: Santa Barbara, California

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