Holiday-Themed Virtual Runs to Sign Up for Before the New Year

You can participate in these virtual marathon races and shorter distance runs from anywhere.

Runner participating in a virtual run for the holidays
Photo: Vasily Pindyurin/Getty Images

For some people, "going on a holiday run" might mean making an annual mad dash to buy presents for family and friends. But for others, it means participating in a fun holiday-themed run each year. Once the turkey trots have come and gone, a lot of runners switch gears to prep for one more themed event before the end of the year where they'll join crowds of other spirited competitors.

Given how 2020's played out, you might've just reflexively cringed at the mention of crowds. Unsurprisingly, many races were canceled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and holiday runs are no exception. But if you're bummed about missing out on a yearly tradition, you can sign up for a holiday virtual run instead. You'll choose a race to support, download and print a bib, run (or walk) on your own time, and submit your results (and sometimes a photo of yourself running) when you're done. You can plan your own route and head out solo or with members of your quarantine pod, Santa suit optional. If that sounds like your idea of a good time in the lead-up to the holidays, here are five holiday virtual run events that are still open to registration. (

A Christmas Story Virtual Run

Registration Fee: $40

Length: 5k or 10k

Dates: Choose any day in December.

More Details: If you're always quoting A Christmas Story through the entire month of December, you should probably go with this virtual run. Signing up might not earn you a leg lamp, but you'll get your own A Christmas Story-branded zip-up hoodie, beanie, and medal. The virtual run benefits St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. (

Sign Up: A Christmas Story Virtual Run

Run for a Claus 2020 Virtual

Registration Fee: $35 for adults and $20 for children

Length: 5k or 1 mile

Dates: Choose any day in December.

More Details: Run for a Claus, which is normally based in Southern California, is a virtual run this year. After signing up, you'll receive a Santa hat and beard, stocking, ugly sweater gator, and a medal with Santa wearing a face mask. (So you can be reminded of this truly bizarre year every time you look at your medal collection.) If running's not your strong suit, you can focus on taking home a virtual costume contest prize to gain free entry to next year's race. The Claus, er, cause, you'll support with a portion of your entrance fee is the Salvation Army.

Sign Up: Run for a Claus 2020 Virtual

Santa Hustle Virtual Race

Registration Fee: $45 for 5k or 10k, $50 for half marathon, or $55 for marathon

Length: 5k, 10k, half marathon, or marathon

Dates: Choose any day in December.

More Details: Normally Santa Hustle races take place in cities across the country, like Chicago, Milwaukee, and Indianapolis, but you can participate from anywhere virtually this year. Whether you're game for a marathon or a 5k is more your speed, you can take part in a virtual race. Registration gets you a zip-up hoodie, Santa hat and beard gator, and finisher medal. The Santa Hustle virtual run of 2020 will benefit Toys for Tots, a program that distributes toys to children whose parents can't afford to buy gifts.

Sign Up: Santa Hustle Virtual Race

Run Across America Holiday Hustle

Registration Fee: $45

Length: 50 kilometers (about 31 miles); does not have to be completed all at once

Dates: Choose any day, now through January 1.

More Details: To complete the Run Across America Holiday Hustle, you'll have to run 50 kilometers (about 31 miles), but it doesn't have to be all at once, so you can break it up into chunks if you prefer. You can even participate in mini bonus challenges throughout the month to help you chip away at the 50 kilometers. Along the way, you'll be able to track your progress and time and join up with a team using the Run Across America app. Registration gets you a long sleeve shirt, but if you choose to forgo yours, Running Across America will give free entry to one food bank employee. If you donate money to Feeding America in addition to your entrance fee, Run Across America will match your donation.

Sign Up: Run Across America Holiday Hustle

8Ks of Hanukkah

Registration Fee: $45

Length: 4K, 8K broken up over 8 days, or 8K in one day

Dates: Various dates beginning December 10; see website.

More Details: If you're looking to join a Hanukkah-themed race, you can go with the 8Ks of Hanukkah virtual race (see what they did there?). Choose from 8 Krazy Ks (1K repeated for 8 days), The Martyr (an 8K in one day), Hey 4K, or The Maccabee (a 1K, 2K, 3K, and so on until reaching 8K on the eighth day of Hanukkah). Participants get a long sleeve shirt and medal, and your registration fee will help raise money for the University of Michigan Hillel.

Sign Up: 8Ks of Hanukkah

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