5 Fall 5k Races to Celebrate the Season Around Philadelphia

The Philly Freedom 5k runs through Independence National Historic Park.
The Philly Freedom 5k runs through Independence National Historic Park. Friends of Independence
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There’s simply nothing compared to the sound of crisp leaves crunching underfoot on a brisk autumn run. Whether you’re a novice looking to run your first race or a seasoned veteran hoping to set a new personal best, fall is undoubtedly the best time of year to run a 5k. Gone are the sluggish, sweaty runs of summertime, replaced by chilly mornings just begging for a quick run.  Perhaps you’re training for a half marathon or full marathon—5ks are still a great way to practice your routine for race day. We’ve gathered a list of five fun and competitive 5ks around Philly, so lace up your racing flats and head to one of these Fall 5k races.

1. Philly Freedom 5k, Oct. 3

What’s more patriotic than running a 5k that benefits Independence National Historic Park? The park is home to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, two of Philly’s most historic and popular landmarks. The Philly Freedom 5k run winds around Old City past some of the park’s famous landmarks, such as Benjamin Franklin’s home, historic City Tavern, and of course, the Liberty Bell. The race is $40 and proceeds will go towards purchasing new law enforcement bicycles for the park rangers. 

2. Rest in Peace 5k, Oct. 10

Runners pose in costume at the RIP 5k. Rest in Peace 5k

Ever had the urge to run through a cemetery at night around Halloween, but too afraid to go it alone? Well, you’re in luck, because the Rest in Peace 5k runs around Laurel Hill Cemetery, one of Philly’s largest and most historic cemeteries. The race starts at 5 p.m. and costumes are encouraged—there’s even special awards for best overall costume, best couples costume, and best group costume. Be prepared to run up and down some major hills while dodging centuries old tombstones. The best part is the after-party featuring free beer, music, and post-race treats.

3. Firebolt 5k, Oct. 17

The Firebolt 5k takes place during Chestnut Hill’s Harry Potter Festival. Chestnut Hill Local

The Firebolt 5k takes place during Chestnut Hill’s famous Harry Potter Festival—a weekend long event dedicated to celebrating J.K. Rowling’s international best-selling children’s books. If you’re a potterhead, head to the race in costume and you’ll have a chance at winning a special prize. All proceeds of the event will benefit J.S. Jenks Elementary School in Chestnut Hill. Post-race events include wizard chess and bouncy castles for kids.

4. HOWLoween 5k and Dog Walk, Oct. 31

Dog lovers and runners unite in the HOWLoween 5k, a race that benefits Home at Last Dog Rescue in North Wales, PA. Since it takes place on Halloween, costumes are encouraged for both dogs and humans. Non-runners can participate in the 1-mile dog walk, which starts at 9:05 a.m. right after the runners start. Don’t leave after the race—the Fall Festival starts at 10:30 a.m. with food trucks, raffles, live music, and more. So dress up your pooch and head to Parkside Place Park for this fun and adorable 5k this Halloween.

5. The Lemon Run, Nov. 8


Runners toe the starting line at The Lemon Run. Alex’s Lemonade Stand

There’s no better reason to run a 5k than to help a good cause, and Alex’s Lemonade Stand is certainly worthy of your $35 race fee. The non-profit benefits research to help cure childhood cancer, and was actually started as a lemonade stand by a four-year-old cancer patient named Alex. She has since passed away, but her legacy lives on in the charity which has raised millions of dollars in her name. The 5k Lemon Run run starts at Memorial Hall in West Fairmount Park, and runs up and down the infamous hills around the park. If you’re interested in a different challenge than usual, sign up for the Centipede Run option, which links runners together in solidarity against childhood cancer. All runners and walkers are encouraged to wear yellow for childhood cancer awareness.

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