It’s that time of year again; you’ve just worked off your post-thanksgiving gut only to be tempted by gingerbread cookies, eggnog, and fruitcake. (Okay, maybe you’re not tempted by fruitcake, but you get the picture). So it can be tough to get through the holiday season without it showing on your waistline.
But December doesn’t only bring good cheer and high-calorie goodies. It also brings some of the most fun runs and races of the year! Many cities offer holiday-themed runs with activities, prizes, and costumed-runners. And almost all of the races raise money for worthy causes so you can feel good about giving back this holiday season while keeping in shape! Check out Oyster.com’s top five destinations for holiday-themed runs this year!
The Rudolph Ramble: The windy city offers some fabulous runs for those looking to get in the spirit this holiday season. The Rudolph Ramble, on December 11th, follows an 8K course around Lincoln Park, and there’s a Donner Dash for kids up to 12 years old. All are invited to dress up in their Christmas duds and those who wear Santa or Mrs. Claus costumes get to lead the race! There will also be a toy drive for patients at Children’s Memorial Hospital. For those looking to splurge, the historic Drake Hotel, on Magnificent Mile, is just a 2-minute drive from Lincoln Park.
Jingle Bell Walk/Run for Arthritis: If one race just wasn’t enough, have no fear. A week after the Rudolph Ramble comes the Jingle Bell Walk/Run for Arthritis, also in Lincoln Park. While kids 10 and under can chase Santa Claus himself in a 50-yard dash, big kids can dress up as the father of Christmas, or just wear their most impressive holiday gear, for the 5K walk/run. The Days Inn Chicago, formerly the Rock and Rolls Days Inn which hosted the likes of Radiohead, Kurt Cobain, and the Dave Matthews Band just to name a few, is a good budget option and is only a 3-minute drive from the park (or about a 20-minute walk for those looking to get in a good warm-up).
Amazing New York Race – Holiday Edition: If you’re looking for something a little different, you’ll want to check out the Amazing New York Race – Holiday Edition on December 17th. This scavenger-hunt race, in which participants are split into teams, may not burn as many calories as a full-out run, but the combination of mental and physical challenges throughout the 4-hour race gives you a full mind-body workout. Participants meet at Perdition, less than a 5-minute walk from the stylish Ink48. Ink48 is a pretty good value for a luxury hotel, but those on a tighter budget may want to consider the Skyline Hotel, less than a minute from Perdition.
NYRR Jingle Bell Jog: On December 10th, participants in the NYRR Jingle Bell Jog. will be running to a Christmas-themed soundtrack in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Most runners of the 4-mile race dress up in holiday gear and all runners receive bells for their shoes so they can jingle all the way! All proceeds from the race benefit NYRR Youth Programs and goodies like hot chocolate will be available for runners post-race. The Nu Hotel, with an excellent 24-hour gym, is about an 8-minute drive from the park.
Miss Santa Holiday 5K Run/Walk: The Miss Santa Run on December 11th has a lot of perks: it’s along a scenic, flat trail on the Charles River Esplanade, its start-time is at 11 a.m. for all those enjoying their eggnog the night before, and best of all, its proceeds support cancer research. At the post-race party, runners (and friends) can enjoy a breakfast buffet and the Miss Santa costume contest. The luxurious Taj Boston is less than a 5-minute drive from the esplanade; a slightly less-expensive option (with only a slightly longer drive) is the Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers.
2011 Bill Rodgers Jingle Bell Run: If you’re in Boston on the 11th, you’re going to have a difficult choice. The Miss Santa Run will definitely be fun event, but it may be hard to compete with the Bill Rodgers Jingle Bell Run. The 2.3-mile course starts at the Hyatt Regency and runs through Boston Common and the financial district before returning to the hotel for a post-run, 21+ party with food, DJs, and prizes for the best costumes. And of course, we can’t forget the namesake of the run; Bill Rodgers, four-time Boston Marathon winner (and four-time New York City Marathon winner), will participate in the race and will be partying it up at the after party – so bring your camera for a post-run pic with the legend! Of course, the Hyatt Regency is the hip (and convenient) choice for this race.
A Christmas Carol Classic: This annual race, even open to pets, features a 5K, 10K, and children’s “Tiny Tim 1K,” with proceeds going to Denver Children’s Home. A particularly nice run for families, this race is on December 17th, and the post-race party gives kids a chance to meet Santa Claus and join the many carolers. The Warwick Denver Hotel, on a quiet, tree-lined street within walking distance of the downtown area, is a short drive from City Park, where the race takes place. The Hilton Garden Inn Denver Downtown is a cheaper option in the same area.
Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell Run/Walk: If you’re really ambitious, you can do the Jingle Bell Run/Walk in Denver a week before you head to the one in Chicago! This 5K race takes place in Washington Park and (costumed) dogs are welcome. All runners are given bells for their sneakers and while mom and dad run the race, the kids can chase Frosty the Snowman in the Snowman Scramble! The luxurious yet budget-friendly Loews Denver Hotel is just a short drive from Washington Park and has spacious, warm rooms for crashing after you race.
Adult Jingle Bell Ride: For those enjoying the holidays in the sunny South, Corpus Christi has a number of fun-filled holiday races and events. If you’re more of a biker than a runner, the Adult Jingle Bell Ride may be just your cup of tea, er, cocoa. The 5-mile ride, starting at 6:30 p.m. on December 13th, leads bikers through some of the brightest, most decorated neighborhoods in the city. Entry fee is a donation to Bikes for Kids and most riders dress up their own bicycles with tinsel and holiday streamers. The meeting point, on Saratoga Boulevard, is about a 5-minute drive from the Staybridge Suites.
Uptown, Downtown & All Around Christmas Fun Run: Although a weekly run, the Uptown, Downtown & All Around Fun Run has a special holiday edition in which runners dress up in holiday garb (there are several Santas every year) and follow Rudolph on a 4-mile trek. On December 19th, runners will meet at 6 p.m. at the downtown YMCA and after the race runners can stick around for snacks and drinks. The best part? Participation is free! The Omni Corpus Christi Hotel Bayfront Tower is a short drive from the YMCA.