Participants enjoying the Color Run. (Photo by vesparado/Flickr)

Our Favorite Dallas 5K Races

These annual events bring loads of fun to their runs.

As Stephanie Hascal, the president-elect of the Dallas Running Club pointed out, Dallas does not lack for races. “Every weekend there is some race for you to do, if you want to,” she says. She’s right.

Seemingly all of the area athletic apparel stores offer online race calendars, but Hascal recommends Run-On’s, after the DRC’s own, of course. If you’re an avid runner who thrives on competition, having so many options is a good thing. But if you prefer to limit the number of races you do, or just run an especially fun 5K here and there, it can be overwhelming.

While not saying these are the “best” 5K-races in Dallas, we do stand behind these are among the most fun. There is something here for everyone — people who like costumes, people who like beer, people who like to get dirty. Figure out your fancy, and you’ll find a race to suit it. If none of the below get you stretching out those hammies, then check one of the aforementioned calendars. You’re bound to find something you like.

Color Run: It’s the self-proclaimed Happiest 5K on the Planet. That’s pretty boastful billing, but runners say it lives up to the hype. The Color Run is a paint race that celebrates healthiness, happiness and individuality. It’s fun and low-key — great for those who just want to have fun and aren’t working on a personal record. “It’s definitely a run that you do with friends. It’s not taken seriously as far as being competitive goes.  They don’t even time it. But it’s so much fun! There’s a great community feel throughout the whole race,” says runner Alisha Trammell. The 2014 race has already occurred, but keep it on your radar for next spring. Registration fees run from $35 to $45 for an entry fee, but with loud music, door prizes, and other entertainment before and after, it’s a great option.

St. Paddy’s Day Dash Down Greenville: Benefitting the North Texas Food Bank, this is a festive 5K that can make anyone feel better about the debauchery that follows. Get up early and make your way to Central Market on Lovers Lane. You’ll find people dressed in green costumes, as well as serious runners, along with unofficial volunteers offering beer next to water stations along the course. The route is fast — mostly flat with a small incline or two — and timed, so even though it’s a rollicking atmosphere, you can make it competitive if you choose. Mark March 14, 2015, on your race calendar for next year, and enjoy an even earlier start to your St. Paddy’s Day festivities.

Turkey Trot: This YMCA race is a Thanksgiving tradition to start with your whole family, if you don’t do it already. It’s also an awesome way to pre-game for the face-stuffing madness to ensue later in the day, which is generally followed by more face stuffing and lounging on the couch, likely watching football. Point being, if you don’t want to feel engorged (or at least as engorged) later, getting out and running or walking the 5K is an active way to start the day. Bonus: it is a relaxed, family-like atmosphere, and people dress up like turkeys and pilgrims. Last time I ran it, I even saw a dude dressed as Gumby. I don’t get the connection either, but, FUN! A few years ago, the Turkey Trot was the site of a new world record: the largest gathering of humans dressed as turkeys (officially, 661 people, if you’re wondering). The cost ranges from $25 to $45, depending on when you register and whether you want to be timed. Those costs apply to both the 5K and the more competitive 8-mile options. Another great holiday-themed race is the Jingle Bell Run.

The Original Mud Run: If obstacle courses and mud are your things, then a mud run is the race for you. Truth be told, there are severalmud runs” to choose from, but the Original Mud Run is truly a 5K. The cost is $45 per person, but you can choose to complete the course (and compete) by yourself or as a team. There are festivities after the race, and you can hose yourself off — literally, they provide hoses — so you are squeaky clean for the post-race fun.

Katy Trail 5K: The event is billed as a race, but the real draw is the picnic afterwards. Race benefactors, the Friends of the Katy Trail, contend that the festivities are “the best post-race party around,” and we can’t disagree.  People register for the race solely for the picnic, where more than 50 restaurants serve free food, live music plays, and Michelob Ultra flows like water. The end of the race — on the Katy Trail — can get a little crowded, but people are there more to have fun than to get a gold medal. The cost ranges from $30 to $35, depending on when you register. But registering on race day is dicey, since the event sells out most years. Ninety-five percent of the annual cost of the Katy Trail’s upkeep comes from private sources, so the Katy Trail 5K is a way to support a public amenity everyone loves to use.