Every year on the third Sunday in May, San Franciscans don their wildest looks (and we really mean wildest) and head for the hills in the Bay-to-Breakers race. For the past 101 years, this 12K race certainly put the “fun” in fun run. While the event is technically alcohol-free, hundreds of participants are drinking out of red Solo cups before, during and most certainly after the event. Once you make it to the finish, the good times continue to roll: Not only are there tents with an array of great food and music, but clubs and restaurants throughout the city set up specific parties to keep the endorphins pumping all day and night long.
When: Late May
Where: San Francisco, CA
More info: zazzlebaytobreakers.com
To runners, the changing of the leaves means race season. To craft beer lovers, the fall means one thing and one thing only: delicious seasonal brews. This race put those two great things together—and we couldn’t be happier about it. After runners have gotten their medals at the Portland Trails 10K in Portland, Maine, they are handed a Shipyard Brewing Company Pumpkinhead Ale. Add more than a few slices of Portland Pie Company pizza, some awesome music and more free brew, and you’ve got yourself a rockin’ after-party.
Where: Portland, ME
More info: trails.org/events
Sure, a lot of races these days have a beer tent serving suds but the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach is more like a full-on kegger... and runners come ready to drink. (It IS St. Patty’s day, after all.) They have not one or two, but five beer tents awaiting thirsty marathoners. Even better? Every person who crosses the finish line is entitled to four rounds on the house. Last March, runners drained 274 kegs of Yuengling, and they're expected to guzzle even more in 2013.
When: March 16-17
Where: Virginia Beach, VA
More info: shamrockmarathon.com
Buzz from a runner’s high simply isn’t cutting it anymore? Check out the BoldrDash, a military-style 5K course in Rhode Island with more than 25 obstacles. Once competitors have run, jumped and slogged their way through the mud to the finish line, the real fun begins. Not only is there a live band, free massages and food and beer galore, but the Army National Guard brings along their famous Halo Jumper to the post-race party. This device simulates the feeling of jumping out of a helicopter. We’re talking a heart-pounding, adrenaline-pumping two minutes that puts the measly free bagel you get at other races to shame.
Where: Exeter, RI
More info: boldrdashrace.com
The Color Run is not so much a competition of who gets to the finish line first but who comes out of the day's festivities with flying colors. While runners are doused with dye throughout the 5K, the real masterpiece happens after you've stopped sprinting. At the end, each participant is handed a color packet and given free-reign to go color wild. Throwing color at hundreds of newfound friends? Yes, please. That’s not all, though—each post-race event is complete with live music performances, making it the most colorful dance party on the planet.
Where: Various cities across the US
More info: thecolorrun.com
Photo © 2012 J. Ronald Lee.
Calling all drinkers with a running problem: Lace up your sneakers and grab your stein. The Hudepohl 14K in Cincinnati is all about a good time, and we’re not talking about finishing with a PR. The race itself begins and ends on the grounds of Moerlein Lager House (Read: Beer lovers’ dream). Once runners cross the finish, they’re greeted with a fresh Hudepohl beer and steaming vats of Gold Star Chili. As for your medal? Well, that also conveniently acts as a bottle opener to help facilitate the after-after-party.
When: Late September
Where: Cincinnati, OH
More info: hudepohl14kbreweryrun.com
If you can't run with headphones jammed in your ears but you love jamming out, you have to check out one of the Rock 'n' Roll events. If not for the run, most certainly for the post-race concert. From start to finish, live bands blast music alongside the course to make this running experience unlike any other race. Once you get to the finish, put up your lighters (or your stopwatch) and rock out with other runners to some pretty great headliners. Past performers include the 90s-tastic Gym Class Heroes, Smash Mouth and the B-52s. It’s all about running, dancing and sweating through it all.
Where: Various cities across the US
More info: runrocknroll.competitor.com