Top 10 Races for First-Time Runners

Whether you choose to start small or dive straight into the 26.2, you never forget your first race. It can be a lot like your first love: you might make a few mistakes along the way, but the exhilaration is insurmountable.

To help you start your racing career on the right foot (pun intended), our team at Athlinks compiled a list of our favorite races to introduce you to the exciting world of endurance events!

We know you’ll love them just as much as we do.

Cooper River Bridge Run 10K 

April 1, 2017 | Charleston, SC

When it comes to the Cooper River Bridge Run, you just have to get over it. The bridge, that is! This race takes you over the third-longest cable suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere, offering 4km of dazzling river views. Beyond the scenery, the run’s organizers show a little Southern hospitality with a two-day expo, ‘finish festival’, runner’s lounge and medal included in registration. Make your first race even more memorable by taking a boat shuttle to the event (yes, we said boat shuttle) and getting your pre-race fuel at “Taste of the Bridge”, where you can sample more than 25 Charleston restaurants for just $15.

Hot Chocolate Nashville 5K 

Photo from hotchocolate15k.com

February 11, 2017 | Nashville, TN

If you need extra motivation to get to the finish line, chocolate will do it! Complete the 5K course dotted with marshmallow and chocolate chip stations and receive an oversized finisher’s mug filled with hot cocoa and other delectable goodies. Every participant also receives a full-zip hooded jacket, complete with thumbholes to help you get the best grip on your mug. Make your first race as sweet as can be with custom, complementary training programs to help keep your eye on the chocolatey prize.

Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K

June 3, 2017| Albany, NY

If you’re looking for a race you can run with the whole crew, look no further than Freihofer’s Run for Women. Team options include Mother/Daughter, Sister/Sister, Grandmother/Mother/Daughter, and Family & Friends for teams up to five people. You’ll be taking part in a nearly 40-year-old tradition that regularly draws more than 5,000 runners of all abilities from beginner to professional. There’s even a free kids run if you need to bring the little ones! As the race organizers describe it, Freihofer’s Run for Women is not just a competition, but a “celebration of women, family, fitness and fun”.

 
Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K

April 1, 2017 | Richmond, VA

You’ll never be bored on this out-and-back course with more than 30 bands and Spirit Groups cheering you on from start to finish – not to mention the 30,000 other participants, many of whom are costumed from head to toe. The flat course and entertainment will make the 10K go by in no time; from there, it’s straight to the lively and family-friendly post-race party! Once you’ve experienced Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K, you’ll see why so many people are hooked on Richmond’s biggest block party.

Wisconsin Marathon

Photo from wisconsinmarathon.com

May 6, 2017 | Kenosha, WI

A mostly flat course with a few rolling hills along Lake Michigan’s coastline make the Wisconsin Marathon a great place to start your racing career. Add in the community-wide after party with a free brat and beer at the finish line and you have one of the best ways to celebrate your new milestone! You’ll also receive an awesome tech shirt and a Big Cheese Medal to prove you participated in the cheesiest marathon there is (there’s even an All Cheese Corral for those running in cheese-tastic swag)!

CVS Health Downtown 5K

September 17, 2017 | Providence, RI

The CVS Health Downtown 5K is the best race to inspire you to continue your racing career and lead a lifetime of running. People of all abilities, including elites, participate in the 5K that travels along the beautiful harbor in downtown Providence. You’ll also be able to watch kids of all ages compete in dozens of youth races including elementary and middle school teams and the High School Inspirational 3K. There’s no better way to fall in love with racing than watching everyone from 1 to 100 have a blast running in this idyllic setting.

Statesman Capitol 10,000

Bacon not guaranteed. Photo from statesman.com

April 23, 2017 | Austin, TX

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the Statesman Capitol 10,000 that has become the largest 10K in Texas and one of the top 10 in the U.S. The capital’s oldest annual race takes more than 20,000 runners through downtown Austin to a lakeside park for the Finish Line Festival. Here you’ll enjoy live music, local food trucks, and – our favorite – a free sports massage! The Statesman Capitol takes the fun up one more notch with a costume contest, so you can still win even if you’re not the fastest runner.

Houston Marathon

January 14, 2018 | Houston, TX

Just like Austin, Houston knows how to party! If fun gets you moving, the Houston Marathon is perfect for your first race. More than 250,000 spectators cheer you on along the looped course and 100+ “hoopla stations” provide extra bursts of motivation with everything from rock bands to cheerleaders and Elvis impersonators. Top it off with the We Are Houston RunFest after party, where you can celebrate with friends, family, and fellow racers.

Carlsbad 5000

April 2, 2017 | Carlsbad, CA

The Carlsbad 5000 is part of the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series, but you only have to run 5K to get your medal and finish line beer. Even though it’s promoted as the “world’s fastest 5K”, we recommend taking your time to enjoy the gorgeous ocean views. Then, “party by the sea” with a post-race concert and complete your weekend with a trip to the expo, where you can pick up free samples and great deals on gear for your next race.

B.A.A. 5K

Photo from baa.org

April 15, 2017 | Boston, MA

The B.A.A. 5K takes place the Saturday before the Boston Marathon and gives you a glimpse of the glory as you pass the marathon finish line on your way to the 5K finish. It’s a scenic tour through Boston’s Back Bay that lets you experience all the excitement of marathon weekend, a four-day event that the entire city celebrates. With so much to offer, we promise this first 5K will have you hopelessly addicted.

For extra encouragement to start (and continue) racing, join Athlinks! We’ll help you find more races you might like, connect you to events your friends are running, and help you brag about your results – all in one place.

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