With the holidays right around the corner, what better way to stave off those extra pounds than going for a run. Although it may be tough to lace up and hit the frozen terrain this time of year, breaking a solid sweat will help you feel slightly less guilty about all that turkey, pumpkin pie, and eggnog you're going to devour these next few months.
So to help you on your journey, we rounded up 10 killer races that are guaranteed to get you out of holiday hibernation. (For more ways to help your waistline survive the season, follow The Men’s Health Holiday Survival Guide.)
Saturday Nov. 24 ($35 in advance, $40 on race day, theuglysweaterrun.com)
The ugly sweater party is a time-honored holiday tradition that gives you free reign to wear wool so embarrassing even Bill Cosby would cringe. And now you can bust out your ugliest duds while breaking a sweat with this 5K in downtown Chicago. There are holiday-themed aid stations at every mile (i.e. hot chocolate pit stops), a Samuel
Adams beer garden waiting for you at the end, and awards for best and worst sweaters and mustaches. (And if you’re looking for real style this winter, try one of The 10 Best Sweaters for Men.)
Sunday Dec. 2 ($175 in advance, $195 at expo, stripatnight.com)
Near Sin City and jonesing for a long run? This race shuts the entire strip down, transforming the iconic Las Vegas Boulevard into a runner’s playground. To kick things off, Cirque du Soleil will perform as you zip through the starting line. And leave your iPod at home: There’s a different band at every mile marker throughout the race. Best of all, with a 4 p.m. starting time, you’ll finish at night under the bright lights outside The Mirage. We’ll leave the rest of the evening up to you.
Saturday, Dec. 8 (Strictly donations: $20 minimum, RaceForRecovery)
To help the victims of Superstorm Sandy, all you need is $20, a pair of shoes, and a working Internet connection. Donate $20 or more -- that's your registration fee -- sign up for either the 5K or 10K, and download your race bib. Then on Dec. 8, run your miles whenever it's most convenient. (Take that, 7 a.m. starts!) Once you're done, return to the Race for Recovery website to share your time. Even though there's no "winner" of the race, founder Michele Gonzalez teamed up with Runner’s World magazine and other companies to put together a sweet giveaway including top running gear and grub. Every additional $20 donation gets you another entry.
Saturday Dec. 8 ($25 up until Dec. 5, $35 on race day, Itsawonderfulrun5k.com)
Here's a must-run for movie buffs. This 5K takes off atop the legendary Bridge Street Bridge, which many claim was the inspiration for the bridge scenes in the holiday classic "It's a Wonderful Life." (We're hoping your run is a bit more cheery than the film.) The USATF-certified course takes you through the idyllic town of Seneca Falls, weaving
through its historic neighborhoods and wrapping up along its Canal Harbor.
Saturday Dec. 8 ($70 through Dec. 5, SurfnSanta10miler.com)
If you weren't able to go all-out on Halloween, here's your chance to amend that immediately. Dress up in your best naughty or nice costume and run 10 (or 3.1) miles through the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. And don't screw up your disguise: The winner for best costume wins a trip for two to Boston for a tour of the Samuel Adams Brewery.
Saturday, Dec. 16 ($35 through December 11, $40 on race day, 12krun.com
Dying to run in a sea of Santas? Head to this Arizona town with your best holiday attire in tow. (Dress up your pet, too -- the best animal costume gets a prize at the end.) If red dudes everywhere aren't enough, volunteers will be caroling at every kilometer to keep your spirits high. The 7.5-mile race is an "out and back course," which means it starts and ends at the same place.
Sunday Dec. 31 ($40 for both the half and full marathon, DataBarEvents.com)
Didn't have time to run a half or full marathon this year? Here's your very last chance to nix the 13.1 (or 26.2) notch off your 2012 to-do list. The half course leads you along the Interurban Trail out to Clayton Beach. And since it's an out-and-back course, you'll simply run the route twice for the full marathon. If you'd rather hit the pavement than watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve, do it here: The views are killer, the registration is super cheap, and you’ll truly go out with a bang in 2012.
Tuesday Jan. 1 ($39 up until race day, CommitmentDay.com)
Look, we get it: No one wants to get moving the morning after NYE. But if you do this 5K, you’ll literally start 2013 off on the right foot. Besides, running could be a good hangover helper, since the endorphin release can boost your mood. Plenty of people resolve to exercise more in the New Year -- but we bet most folks don't start until at least Jan, 2. Beat ‘em to the punch and begin your healthiest year ever.
Sunday Jan. 13 ($45 starting December 1, $50 starting Jan. 1, TheColorRun.com)
First order of business on your 2013 racing schedule: Head south. The first Color Run 5K of the New Year is going down at The Florida Citrus Bowl, and it looks wild. Warm weather, hot women in white T-shirts, and an explosion of color? Sign us up. If you're new to Color Runs, for every kilometer you compete, you pass through a designated “color zone” where you get blizted with yellow, orange, pink or blue powder. Can’t make it to Florida? No worries -- the "Tour de The Color Run" is rolling into 50 U.S. cities next year.
Thanksgiving Day. ($40 on race day, TurkeyDay-5K.com.)
Before you stuff your face Thanksgiving afternoon, log a few miles in the morning. Five major U.S. cities are hosting this race on Thursday, with upward of 15,000 participants expected. But don't fret if you don't see your hometown on the list tons of other cities are getting their turkey trot on, too. (For more ways to help your waistline survive the season, pick up Eat This, Not That! 2013.)
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