The 5K: depending on what type of runner you are, it can be a highly competitive race or, just a fun frolic through the park.
Either way, it’s a distance that caters to a wide range of runners, from the beginner all the way to the fast-footed veteran with sights set on a race PR.
As we sorted through the many 5K races offered in the U.S. each year, we kept this in mind. We wanted to showcase an assortment of races that offer competitive fields, fast courses, scenic settings, charitable support, unique experiences and of course, top-notch swag.
In compiling the list we considered public race data from Running USA, other expert lists, our own running and most importantly, input from you, the runners who have participated in these races first hand.
Based on those standards, these are 10 of the best 5K races in all of the U.S.
NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5k—N.Y.
This fun fall run offers racers the chance to cross the iconic finish line of the New York City Marathon without having to actually run 26.2 miles. Each year this 5K takes place on the Saturday before the marathon, which means participants get to experience the buzzing energy and excitement that never fails to electrify New York City during marathon weekend.
Chicago Hot Chocolate Run 5k—Ill.
With just under 25,000 participants, the Chicago Hot Chocolate Run (offered in both 15K and 5K distances) was the largest 5K of 2013, according to Running USA. The chocolate fueled race is offered in various cities across the U.S. throughout the year, but it originated in Chicago where the course begins and finishes in Millennium Park. In addition to a chocolatey post-race party, this fun 5K is also known for its swag-filled goodie bag, which includes a cozy, full-zip hoodie.