Spring has officially sprung! It may not seem like it in some areas, I personally saw an amazing amount of snow on a road trip recently, but it is actually time for the seasons to change. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the flowers are blooming, the trees are beginning to bud, and the grass is turning green. People are beginning to come out of hibernation and venture outside for activities. For those of us who enjoy running, this is the time that we wait for all year. The temperatures are getting warmer, but not unbearably warm, just comfortable enough once the body is warm and active.

I see many people out on the road and trails running, after being trapped inside a gym on a treadmill for most of the winter. This is the season when organized racing begins in most parts of the country. These races range from distances of 5 kilometers (approx. 3 1/2 miles) all the way to marathons, which are 26.2 miles. (There are ultra-marathons that range all the way to 100 miles, but they seem to be held in very limited areas). I have not been a runner for long, and actually participated in my first 5k as a walker. Which brings me to the purpose of this blog: spreading the word that one does not have to be a seasoned runner, or even very athletic at all to participate in one of these events. Most of the “fun run”s out there have a walking division, as do the longer events (which are recorded, but only to a certain time limit). Basically, a running event is there for people to enjoy, not necessarily to prove that one is an Emil Zatopek or a Ryan Hall.

I encourage people to participate in these events, not only for the health benefits, but because the proceeds tend to go to charities. I have been in running events for Habitat for Humanity, different children’s charities, and local organizations. A lot of charities find that, even if people are not particularly interested in their cause, a fun run is a great way to fund-raise because a racer is always looking for an event. Most running/walking events will allow strollers and even pets. Quite often there is a children’s 1 mile race or other activities for children throughout the day. There is usually some sort of food or drink at the end, as well. I have had breakfast, fruit, fresh fish, water, sodas, and even beer at post-race celebrations! Even if none of these perks seem interesting, the fact that free t-shirts are given ought to draw participants! I love wearing my race shirts as badges of honor in public. Most events do have an entry fee, but it is nominal until reaching the 1/2 marathon or marathon levels, but again, that money generally goes toward a worthy cause.

I have participated in a 5k already this year and have entered a 1/2 marathon and a marathon in the future. Through work, we are participating in an electric run which is held at night with glow in the dark paint and glow sticks. Last year we all did a color run, where there were stations set up to douse us in colored powder. The internet is chock full of different fun races such as bubble runs, mud runs, and even zombie runs (where the zombies chase the runners throughout the course). So, really, if you are in the area, come join me in something to make you feel better, or find an event in your hometown and learn just how fun and addicting these great events can be!