Kick the dust off your favorite sneakers and bend and stretch your way to the starting line at one of this fall's many festive 5K offerings. The autumn weather provides an ideal environment to pair fitness and fun on a short 3.1-mile run that satisfies beginners and veterans alike. Lots of choices make it easy to race in the name of a worthy charity, a local university or even a favorite restaurant. Pick a favorite, find a pace, and prepare to run.
5K TIPS AND TRICKS
Experienced racers know that T-shirts are a prime race enticement. Guarantee yours by signing up early and retrieving your packet on time.
Know your place. Slower runners should find a spot near the back of the pack and allow faster participants the up-front locations.
Be considerate of other runners. Don't hog the space at water pit stops and be respectful of those who end up running nearby. Loud noises and talking could ruin the perfect rhythm.
Hitting the course cold turkey is an easy way to land a cot in the medical tent. Build up distance in the pre-race weeks and allow plenty of rest days to avoid injury.
Nearly 16,000 participants lined up for last year's Komen Oklahoma City Race for the Cure, and event planners hope 2009 will bring an even larger crowd with a new downtown course that finishes at the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark. Held on Oct. 10, the event also includes a one-mile family walk/run and a children's dash.
Make it a two-race weekend with a turn at the inaugural AIDS Walk 5K in downtown OKC on Oct. 11, just one day after the Race for the Cure. Although the annual event usually features a one-mile walk, organizers have tacked on a competitive run for the 2009 installment.
"We added the 5K to expand the day and to reach a broader audience," said John Greer, president of the AIDS Walk of Oklahoma City board.
LEG UP ON LEARNING
Tighten your laces in the name of higher education at the inaugural Life Saver 5K and fun run held Oct. 3 on the campus of Oklahoma City Community College in south Oklahoma City. Sponsored by the college's Nursing Student Association to fund scholarships, the day features food and entertainment, in addition to important health information.
"The 5K allows us to promote wellness and exercise in our community," said Deborah Myers, race director.
The University of Central Oklahoma hosts its annual 5K run on Sept. 29 as part of the school's week-long homecoming activities. The fourth installment of the UCO Homecoming Philanthropic Run begins at dusk and winds through the school's Edmond campus. All proceeds benefit an annual holiday party that hosts area underprivileged children.
Scheduled as part of Logan Medical Center's anniversary festivities, Guthrie's Loganpalooza on Oct. 24 pairs a fun run/walk and 5K with food, music and children's activities that include a petting zoo, moon bounce and clowns.
"This celebration is for the entire family," said Cathie Cordis, Logan Medical Center representative. Funds from the day-long celebration go toward breast cancer awareness and the purchase of digital mammography equipment for the hospital.
Another medically minded running event is Midwest City's Renaissance Run on Sept. 26. Sponsored in part by Midwest Regional Medical Center, the run began as a way for cardiac patients to challenge themselves during recovery. Today, the race is a family affair that caps off with a hearty pancake breakfast for participants and spectators.
If fitness isn't a justified reason for racing, perhaps a pub-side finish line will do the trick. Travel to T-Town for a turn at McNellie's Pub Run held Nov. 14 in downtown Tulsa. Focused on brew and measuring in at 4 miles, instead of a true 5K, the rolling course winds through historic downtown areas and ends up at McNellie's, where each participant scores two free beers. Can't wait to partake? A special Guinness Challenge dares participants to down three pints of the dark and hefty brew at checkpoints throughout the race.
A legendary good-time eatery in Stillwater, Eskimo Joe's has hosted its annual 5K, the Juke Joint Jog for the last 22 years. Slated for Oct. 24, the event benefits the area's United Way and features a family zone with hands-on children's games and activities in addition to the 5K and one-mile fun run through the Oklahoma State University campus.
"I encourage everyone to come support a wonderful community agency while enjoying exercise and fun," said Stan Clark, president and founder of Eskimo Joe's. "Andrea Miller