Fitness / Outdoor Running

10 New Year’s Races to Ring in a Fresh Start

Start the year with a bang (and a new personal best).

Whether you’re traveling or sharing a toast at home with family and friends, there are innumerable ways to ring in the New Year. While large get-togethers and streaming the Times Square ball drop seem to be the norm, there’s a new holiday fitness trend that has people celebrating: racing. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day races have been taking place for years, but they’ve been gaining popularity recently. End 2018 and ring in 2019 on a runner’s high by signing up for one of these races. All registrations are still open.

Stamp Out Poverty

Where: Atlanta, Georgia

When: Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018

Start off the New Year by feeling good and doing good. January 1st is the beginning of Poverty Awareness Month. For the seventh year in a row, the Charity Benevolent Fund is gearing up to host its annual Stamp Out Poverty 5K to end intergenerational poverty. You can sign up as an individual runner or with a group, so feel free to invite friends and family. CBF is also asking for dry and canned food donations, which will be collected at check-in on the morning of the race. If you’re in the area and want to participate in a race but already have New Year’s Eve or Day plans, this charitable run is ideal.

Belle Isle New Year’s Eve Family Fun Run/Walk

Where: Detroit, Michigan

When: Monday, Dec. 31, 2018

Explore the beautiful island of Belle Isle Park with the New Year’s Eve Family Fun Run and Walk. Both the one-mile fun run (open to children and adults) and the 5K boast breathtaking views of the Detroit River and skyline. All children who participate will receive a trophy at the finish line, while the top three men and women to complete the 5K receive gift certificates to Hansons Running Shop. All finishers of both races, regardless of place, get a medal and can enjoy post-race food and drinks (hot chocolate, anyone?). The event’s organizers claim that this is the longest continuously held running event throughout Michigan, so sign up if you’re particularly interested in being part of history.

The Pancake Run

Where: Miamisburg, Ohio

When: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019

Upon completing either the one-mile, 5K, or 10K Pancake Run race, finishers not only take home a medal—featuring an animated pancake, of course—but also enjoy a complimentary plate of pancakes and mimosa at nearby restaurant TJ Chumps. Participate in one race, or take on the Beast 3-Race Challenge by doing all three in one day. What better way to celebrate the New Year (and overcome any impending hangovers) than with a brisk run and celebratory pancakes?

New Year’s Eve 5K

Where: Chicago, Illinois

When: Monday, Dec. 31, 2018

Take in the stunning views of the downtown Chicago skyline as you race along Lincoln Park, beginning at the historic Theatre on the Lake. Those who finish the race earn both a medal and a winter hat. Moreover, the Chicago Sport and Social Club, the organizers of the New Year’s Eve 5K, has pledged to donate proceeds from the event to support Special Olympics Chicago.

Harmony Silvester

Where: Harmony, Pennsylvania

When: Monday, Dec. 31, 2018

New Year’s Eve is also when many observe Saint Sylvester’s Day, a German custom that celebrates a fourth-century Christian saint. As a town with plenty of German heritage, Harmony, Pennsylvania, celebrates Silvester with the Harmony Silvester one-mile fun run and 5K. The party begins at 6 p.m., when midnight strikes in Germany, and includes a dinner, a comedic short film, fireworks, the races, and more.

New Year’s Eve Glow Run 5K

Where: Harrisonburg, Virginia

When: Monday, Dec. 31, 2018

Getting into the New Year’s Eve spirit, the New Year’s Eve Glow Run 5K decks out each of its participants with glow sticks, glowing necklaces, and “more paraphernalia than you’ll know what to do with” to help you light up the night. The entire course is also lined with flashing lights and DJs, making the experience a unique one to remember. On top of that, wheelchair racers, strollers, and leashed pets are welcome, so the whole family can join in. Break out your brightest running clothing and join the glow party.

New York Road Runners Midnight Run

Where: New York, New York

When: Monday, Dec. 31, 2018 (at 11:59 p.m.)

While the ball is dropping in Times Square, take your New Year’s Eve celebration to Central Park with the Road Runners Midnight Run. Pre-race celebrations include music, dancing, and a countdown into the New Year. Jet off onto the racecourse as fireworks spark throughout the New York City sky.

Running of the Lights

Where: Clemmons, North Carolina

When: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019 (at 12:01 a.m.)

You’ve driven through the most decked-out holiday neighborhoods before, but you’ve never raced through them like this. Running of the Lights, a family-friendly 3.2-mile race, takes you on a tour of a local neighborhood that goes all out with its holiday decorating. See a live stream of the Times Square ball drop at the starting line as it counts down to the start of the race, then run through the Tanglewood Festival of Lights when the clock strikes midnight.

Brazen New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day

Where: Fremont, California

When: Monday, Dec. 31, 2018, and Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019

Run a 5K, 10K, or half marathon along the Quarry Lakes in the Brazen New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day races. All New Year’s Eve races start in the morning, so you have plenty of time to complete one, shower off, and head over to whichever party or event you’re attending that night. Don’t party too hard, though, because if you plan to participate on both days, you’ll be up and running before 10 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

New Year’s Race

Where: Los Angeles, California

When: Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019

If you’re looking to kick off the New Year (and some new running goals) right but just can’t fit a race into those final days of December or first days of January, the New Year’s Race in Los Angeles is the perfect option for you. It takes place the Sunday after New Year’s Day and begins at Grand Park in downtown L.A. Challenge yourself with a 5K, 10K, 9.3 Challenge (run the 5K and the 10K back-to-back), or Basecamp Challenge (which includes a HIIT session immediately after the 5K). Once you’ve finished, enter the celebration zone, which is stocked with food, drinks, and a kid zone. Rest up, because the celebrations go on until midnight.

Start your new year fitness goals on the right foot with one of these fun NYE races sure to raise your heart rate and your spirits.

Fitness Outdoor Running


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