One of the greatest things about this time of year is the long list of holiday themed races. You can’t throw a Yule log without it landing in the middle of a 5K or group ride. No matter which activities you choose you’ll be burning off the excess calories that come with eating season — and most of these events support worthy charities.
In case you don’t know where to start, here’s a list of some of the best rides and runs all over the Queen City.
Cranksgiving is a unique way to help the hungry in Charlotte. Begin at Eco-licious , get your manifest, and ride to pre-determined locations, gathering the items on your list. Finish at the Comet Grill to drop off your haul, all of which will be sent to Loaves and Fishes.
The event, in its third year, is part of a national movement and is organized locally by Charlotte Spokes People. Last year the event gathered more than 800 pounds of food for multiple charities. The ride is free and you’ll need money to purchase the food donations on your list.
When: Sunday Nov 23rd
Where: Start Eco-licious, finish Comet Grill
Time: 1 pm registration, 2 pm start
Who should go: Anyone with a bicycle who is looking for a fun way to help others.
2. South Charlotte Turkey Trot
Just wait your turn Christmas, we’ve still got some Thanksgiving-ing to do. Join an anticipated 10,000+ runners, joggers, walkers and more than a few wobbling toddlers at one of the oldest running events in Charlotte.
The South Charlotte Turkey Trot includes an 8K, 5K, 1 mile, and 26.2 yard Tot Trot (a great reason to put one of those “26.2” stickers on your car). The route begins and ends at the Southpark mall and covers some scenic areas of South Charlotte. Awards for fastest 8K finishers and best costumes. All distances receive a race shirt and finishers medallion.
When: Thursday Nov 27th (Thanksgiving!)
Where: Starts at or near South Park Mall (Exact start location varies by event)
Time: Multiple start times, first race at 8:30 am. Winners’ ceremony at 10:30 am
Who should go: Anyone who likes the energy of a large crowd sporting festive holiday garb.
3. ChristmasTown 5K
Every year the town of McAddenville puts on a holiday light display that would give Clark Griswold an inferiority complex. Just a few miles west of Charlotte, the normally quiet little town is mobbed by hundreds of thousands of vehicles. Needless to say, one does not make a quick trip through McAddenville during the holidays.
The light show doesn’t officially begin until Dec 1st but participants in the Christmastown 5K get a sneak peek of all that’s involved in the nationally recognized holiday display. The race, held on Saturday, November 29th, is a great way to get an up close look at Christmas Town USA without the traffic.
When: Saturday November 26th
Where: Race start is on Elm Street near Legacy Park, Downtown McAddenville
Who should go: Anyone who loves Christmas, small towns and incredibly large numbers of tiny little lights.
4. Huntersville Half Marathon and Holiday 5K
Now that some evil pastry genius has found a way to put three pies into one dessert (e.g. the PumpPecApple cake), it may be time to up your holiday workout game plan. The Huntersville Half Marathon and Holiday 5K is the perfect opportunity to support the local community while running a great course.
Bear Robinson, Race Director and owner of Hard Core Serious Fitness, created the race to fill the gap in his hometown. “North Charlotte was lacking distance races,” said Robinson. “So some local runners got together to design a course by runners, for runners.”
The Charlotte Running Club will attempt to break the world record for most runners tethered together during the 5K. All half marathon finishers get a hoodie and medal and 5K participants receive a long sleeve T-shirt. Profits support the Novant Health Foundation.
When: Saturday December 13th (that’s right, 12/13/14 – that has to be lucky somehow)
Where: Birkdale Village
Time: 8 am
Who should go: Anyone looking for a great half marathon in the heart of the holidays.
5. We Believe Santa 5K Trail Run
At the mercifully reasonable start time of noon on Dec 13 th , the trails at the U.S. National White Water Center will be invaded by a few hundred runners competing for time and best holiday costume. Post-race, the host of Santa clad runners will be treated to a bonfire complete with cocoa, cookies, and candy canes.
Careful planning went into the race to make sure it was the perfect atmosphere. “We maxed the race out at 300 people,” said Brian Mister, Marketing Coordinator at the USNWC. “The trails won’t be packed but there’s enough people to make it a party.”
Many runners will be decked out in their St. Nick finest. But if you find yourself sans Santa suit, no problem — dressing up is not a requirement. If you can, bring a toy. The race is an official collection site for Toys for Tots.
If you’re feeling a bit 'bah humbug' and cookies, cocoa and bonfires aren’t enough to grow your Grinch heart three sizes, have a beer. NoDa Brewing will be on hand offering their nationally recognized brews.
When: Saturday December 13th
Where: U.S. National Whitewater Center
Time: Race starts at noon
Who should go: Who shouldn’t?