Author: Amber French
I have run several “fun-runs”, 5km, 10km, and even half-marathon tune-ups. I have entered several triathlons, a few trail runs, and have helped out at obstacle course races.
Once race season starts, from May to October, you can take part in something every weekend!
Charity races are super fun, they incorporate something for everyone from kid-runs to vendor alleys. The good ones have great post run food, activities, and swag bags. The best runs take you somewhere fun to run. My favourite is the Oasis Zoo Run in Toronto. They are sold out almost every year and they cater to everyone, from the beginner 5km to the elite 10km runners, and you get to run past the best cheering squad around (you even get into parts of the zoo not open to the public). If you are new to charity running, it is a great place to start; the animals, easy access for spectators, and post run celebrations are a great way to spend a fall afternoon.
Most charity races are done well and are very transparent about where the money goes, how much of it goes to the actual charity, and how much of it goes to putting on the race day festivities and administration (which can be a lot). Most use local run groups, running enthusiasts, and active volunteer organizations to help out with the day-of events. You will see a lot of students getting in a solid day’s worth of community hours.
Although the charity aspect is fantastic, for most people participating, it is a happy by-product. Most choose their races to accomplish a certain distance, a personal best, or to hold themselves accountable to get in shape.
Most races have great resources like training guidelines and even tune-up (pre-races) to keep you on track and properly trained. They also provide a GREAT chance to meet likeminded people and even deliver a great opportunity for your pack of runners to celebrate their milestones together.
For me, I have always loved seeing my kids and family at the finish line. I think it is super important (especially for women) to show our loved ones that we can accomplish new things at any age. Women don’t have as many opportunities to get together with other women and be active as men do. Men have more opportunities to play pick-up games, join leagues, and intramurals. Obviously these options are available to women, but they aren’t as popular or as widely subscribed to. In contrast, charity races are flooded with women, especially races that support other women, like cancer research, local shelters, or those highlighting women’s issues such as domestic violence.
If you are thinking about trying your hand at races this year, or even increasing your race distance, I highly recommend finding a run group or creating one of your own. It makes the race day so much more meaningful. Let your kids and family see you take on (and conquer) new challenges, even if you do walk a little slower for the next few days. Do your homework and find a charity or cause that resonates with you, recruit your best buddies and put in the mileage. This will lead to certain success and will pull you through the walls that come with pushing your body to new limits.