With a climate that makes year-round outdoor activity a reality, plenty of challenging hills and beautiful scenery, Charlotte is an excellent city for a running race. Whether it’s something as short as a 5K, a 26.2-mile marathon, or something in between, there’s a race waiting for you to conquer in the Queen City. Lace up your running shoes and challenge yourself with these standout races in 2017.
April 1, 8 a.m.
One of the most popular novelty runs of the year, the Color Vibe at Concord Mills Mall starts runners with a clean shirt, but with colored powder being sprayed, thrown and dumped on you at several stations throughout the 5K race, you’re guaranteed to finish the race covered with the full spectrum of rainbow colors. Don’t worry, sunglasses are provided at the start of the race to protect your eyes. Be sure to bring your camera to get some of the most fun pictures you’ll get at a road race all year.
Tuckfest is the U.S. National Whitewater Center’s marquee multi-day festival featuring family-friendly activities, demonstrations, food and drink, live music, and of course outdoor competitions. There’s a run here for all ability levels, with challenges in a half marathon, quarter marathon (6.3 miles), 5K , twilight 5K and youth race. The trail winds along the banks of the Catawba River, letting you get off-road and get your shoes dirty.
April 22, 8 a.m
The Elizabeth neighborhood is known for having some of the most impressive views of the Charlotte skyline, and the Central Piedmont Community College Skyline Run gives you just that. When you register for the 5K run, walk, 1 mile fun-run or the baby stroller race, you’re helping current and future CPCC students gain access to higher education, as proceeds go toward the student scholarship fund. The race starts at the Overcash building, follows 7th Street east, then comes back into town via 5th Street, giving you an amazing view of Charlotte’s skyline.
April 29, 8 a.m.
Just outside of Charlotte in Kings Mountain State Park, you’ll find one of the most challenging marathon/half marathon races in the Carolinas. The Kings Mountain Marathon takes place on the same hills that one of the Revolutionary War’s most important battles was fought on in 1780. That same unconquerable spirit lives on today as runners battle the inclines of Kings Mountain to embody the freedom that patriots fought for.
May 12, 7 p.m.
Some say Uptown Charlotte looks its best at night and the Twilight 5K gives you an opportunity to see the bright lights of the city while setting a new personal record. The 21st annual race benefits Right Moves for Youth, an organization providing programs for area youth, grades 6-12 and primarily of African American descent. Runners start at the Wells Fargo Atrium and slither through the skyscrapers of Uptown. A kid’s 1K fun run is also offered.
May 20, 8 a.m.
This 5K race is for all the runners that used to run around in their super-hero outfits as kids. Leave your alter-ego at home and set a new personal record at McAlpine Creek Park. The Super Run benefits several local charities so you’re a real life super-hero just for registering. Wearing your favorite superhero outfit is encouraged, but just in case you left your suit in the phone booth, the Super Run provides you with an official cape at packet pickup.
June 3, 6 p.m.
One of just two races with an evening start time on this list, the NoDa 5k is the perfect race for runners new to road races to try. The race is chip-timed, guarantees a t-shirt and a medal to finishers making participants feel like professionals, no matter what pace they run. NoDa Brewing Company, the event organizer, is also home to the city’s oldest brewery-sanctioned run club.
June 3, 8 a.m.
Carolinas HealthCare System organizes this annual run benefiting the Levine Children’s Hospital. It’s famous for having the course finish up on the playing field of Bank of America Stadium, home to the Carolina Panthers. However, the field’s turf will be under construction this year, so the course finishes on the practice fields just outside of the stadium. Don’t let that deter you from running , as the race has opening and awards ceremonies featuring special guests from the Carolina Panthers. Better register early, participation is capped at 1,000.
June 4, 7:30 a.m.
Now in its 12th year, the Ramblin’ Rose Triathlon and 5K celebrates the empowerment of women with competitions throughout the Carolinas. The Charlotte edition takes place at the Harris YMCA on Quail Hollow Rd and features a 200 yard swim, an eight mile bike, and a two mile run. A more traditional 5K is offered for running purists. The triathlon is certified through USA Triathlon, so a one-day $15 membership is required to compete.
August 19, 7:30 a.m.
Part of the larger Performance Therapy Food Truck and Beer Festival, the OrthoCarolina 10K Classic gives experienced runners a challenge and first-time runners a worry-free introduction to racing. The 10K course sneaks into Plaza Midwood, daring runners to keep pace on the hills of Hawthorne Ave., while the 5K course circles the historic Elizabeth neighborhood. There is also an untimed “Rookie Run,” which is designed for new runners to get their first taste of road racing with ample cheer stations motivating them to break through.
November 11, 7:30 a.m.
Formerly known as the Thunder Road Marathon, the Charlotte Marathon is the Queen City’s marquee annual road race. This is also one of the most versatile running events, offering a full marathon, half, marathon relay, 5K, and kid’s 1-mile run. The 26.2-mile course starts in Uptown and weaves and winds through the adjacent neighborhoods, giving you a glimpse of some of the very best sights Charlotte has to offer. Be on the lookout for each neighborhood’s cheering stations, which are almost as much of a competition as the race itself.