Why 5K road races are so great

Posted at 11:15 AM, Jul 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-29 11:15:01-04

“Would you guys want to do this Glow 5K with me? We get to dress in wacky colors and glow sticks,” my friend and kickboxing partner-in-crime Kree texted me and our other friend Sara the other day.

What runner would turn down the chance to do that?

To be honest, I don’t run a whole lot of 5Ks, preferring to focus my training and attention (and money spent on entrance fees!) on longer races.

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But 5Ks remain popular, probably because they are easy to train for and they’re usually over in well under an hour.

According to statistics from Running USA, more than 7.6 million people finished 5K races in 2015—accounting for 45 percent of all road races.

Gimmicky 5Ks like glow runs, in particular, seem to be growing more and more popular. Women’s Health covered the trend back in 2013, describing these events as hybrid race-dance parties complete with glow sticks and neon paint. It’s like you forget you’re exercising.

The event director for the Glow Run 5K told Women’s Health that many participants come decked out in costume, and the more glow sticks, the better.

My friends and I are signing up for the Columbia Glow Run at 8 p.m. on Sept. 3. Since I’m not a giant fan of getting up early (and almost all races have a pre-8 a.m. start time!), I’m pretty happy about that.

I’m also a glow stick enthusiast, as you may remember from the time I did Illuminated Yoga. I’ll take any opportunity to work accessories that shine into my fitness ensemble.

And even though I like longer distances, 5Ks are still awesome in their own way. As pro runner and Picky Bars founder Laura Fleshman explained in Runner’s World:

“The satisfaction in a marathon comes with completion under duress. You reach the point where you aren't sure you will finish, and then somehow you do. It's an amazing feeling, but it's only one way to experience racing. In a 5K, you know that you are going to finish.”

And if you can finish with a glow stick in your hand, all the better!

Interested in a longer distance? The Annapolis Running Classic, which includes a 10K and a half-marathon option, is Nov. 19. Sign up with the code ALLISON16, and get 10 percent off!  

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