48 Must-Do Dec./Jan. Races Across The U.S.

Fairmont Run to Read Half Marathon, Jan. 5; Fairmont, W.V.

Mid-Atlantic Region

Ugly Sweater Run
Dec. 14; Charleston, W.V.
Dec. 21; Washington, D.C.

Remember that hideous garb you swore you would never wear? Now is the time to dig up your ugliest threads and get moving at this 3.1-mile run. But don’t worry—this race offers two free beers at the finish line, allowing runners to drown their sweater-induced embarrassment. Electrolyte stations are replaced with hot cocoa cups along the course, and prizes will be awarded in a plethora of categories—best and worst ‘stache, best beard and best and worst sweaters. Round up some friends and snap a photo of yourself in your aunt’s worst Christmas gift—it’s just proof that there’s a time and place for, literally, everything.

GORUCK DC Challenge
Dec. 14; Washington, D.C.

Created by an ex-Special Forces soldier, GORUCK events are races that simulate the journey of military in combat through a challenge obstacle-filled course and special tasks throughout the event. The GORUCK Challenge is one of several different types of pseudo-military events on the series calendar in the Mid-Atlantic. This is a team event, not an individual race, where the hardest part is just to register. Participants can register as individuals, and they will be placed with 29 other brave souls, comprising their 30-person team. With a special operations cadre keeping you in check the entire way, the goal is to get all 30 participants across the finish line to earn the GORUCK Tough patch.

Seashore Nature Trail 50K
Dec. 21; Virginia Beach, Va.

Running along the beautiful trails of First Landing State Park, this course only covers one mile total of road surfaces. Most of the terrain is flat as it sends runners through plush forests, expansive views and various ecosystems. This 50K will celebrate its fifth birthday this year, and those participants who will complete all five races receive a commemorative award at the finish line. Noted as one of the fastest trail courses in the country, this event has sold out the last two years, so register early.

12Ks of Christmas Holiday Run
Dec. 14; Washington, D.C.

Celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas with a kilometer for each day. Since the weather outside might be frightful, this 12K and 5K race offers long-sleeve tech shirts for all finishers, along with egg nog and hot cider for those itching for a complete holiday experience. The race benefits W.H.A.L.E.R’s Creation Christmas Dinner, hosted for foster and adopted children to give them an opportunity to enjoy the holidays with friends and family.

Frozen Sasquatch Trail 50K and 25K
Jan. 4 Kanawha State Forest, W.V.

The West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners host this annual trail race, cruising through the best trails of Kanawha State Forest. The loop course (50K tacklers do the loop twice) makes it easy to navigate the start and finish lines, and the updated 2013 course map has promised to lessen the “bottleneck” consequences of a crowded start line. Limited to 200 runners, the field is intimate, and T-shirts are guaranteed to the first 150 people to register and pick up their shirt. This event makes the long drive well worth it, with a finish-line feast of hot BBQ, soup, coffee, cocoa and other warming delights.

Fairmont Run to Read Half Marathon
Jan. 5; Fairmont, W.V.

This winter rendezvous caters to the cold West Virginia winter weather with a 2 p.m. start time and gloves and knit hats awarded to the first 400 finishers. Running through Prickett’s Fork State Park, the course is USATF-certified and runs along the Mon River Trail for its final miles—a path made of crushed limestone. All proceeds benefit the Literacy Volunteers of Marion County, which provides free tutoring to children and adults in a variety of subjects. And if that isn’t enough incentive, there’s always the hot chili waiting across the finish line.

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