Top Ten Family Friendly Runs in Chicago this 2013 Holiday Season

It’s the holiday season, and the kids will have plenty of time off. Wondering what you can get the kids involved in other than video games and holiday snacking? Surprisingly, Chicagoland has quite a few family-friendly races/walks that will get you and your family moving and off the couch. These fun runs will certainly warm up little bodies and little hearts in the chilly upcoming months.

1. Girls on the Run 5k – November 16th

Girls on the Run-Chicago (GOTRC) is a non-profit organization that teaches girls 8-13 year old important life skills through running activities to encourage positive emotional, social, and physical development.  This annual 5k is not just a run, but a morning full of fun activities, open to the public. If you have a child who can benefit from some encouragement and more involvement in physical activities to build their confidence, or if you want to introduce your child to the fun side of exercise, this is a great event for the whole family.  The runners are not timed, and everyone who crosses the finish line is a winner. Your little runner will get cheers from the crowd throughout the whole race. There will also be face painting and tiara decorating, in addition to a great post-run festival that features food, games and sponsor giveaways!

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2. Turkey Day Run 5k – Thanksgiving Day, November 28th

Make this a healthy part of your Thanksgiving Day tradition, before sitting down and eating a big meal with family and friends.  The route starts in Lincoln Park and takes you along Lakeshore Drive. This is an event that will certainly get the whole family in the holiday spirit. Participants can dress up in turkey-themed outfits, and there is even a Plymouth Rock Ramble for kids 2 to 12 years old as part of the festivities. The race will be staged in the following age group heats: 2- to 4-year-olds: 50 yards, 5- to 6-year-olds: 1/4 miles, 7- to 12-year-olds: 1/2 mile.  Bring canned foods to the race and support the less fortunate, as 100% of all donations go to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

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3.  Grant Park Turkey Trot 5k – November 30th

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, work off your week of Turkey-eating by walking or running at the Grant Park Turkey Trot.  There is also a free Kid’s Dash.  All 5k participants receive a long sleeve souvenir shirt.  This family-friendly 5k course starts in Grant Park and provides great views of Chicago’s Skyscrapers, the Lakefront, and Field Museum.

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4.  Go Santa Go 5k—December 1st

Start the 25 days of Christmas right with Go Santa Go at Soldier Field. This is the first year for this new holiday family tradition. Dress up as Santa or dress up as one of his elves.  Every participant will receive his or her choice of a Santa shirt, hat and beard, or an Elf shirt and hat to wear while running.  There will be holiday music, candy, and cookies along the course.  Bring an unopened/unwrapped toy and spread the holiday joy to “Toys for Tots”.  Participating in events such as this is a great way to get your little ones into the holiday spirit and remind them that we can still be active & healthy even when it’s cold outside.

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5. Santa Hustle Chicago 5k- December 7th

Can’t make it to GoSantaGo? Be a part of one of the largest growing holiday races. I took part in this race last year and it was quite a spectacle to run under Soldier Field with thousands upon thousands of Santas, with our “beards” flapping in the breeze.  Some participants donned a whole Santa suit, fake belly and all. This will be the fifth year for this fun race. Every participant will receive a free Santa hat, beard, and customized Santa shirt to wear while running. There will be hot chocolate, photographers, elves and reindeers cheering you on, outrageous holiday decorations, festive music, and a large after party.  This is another Toys for Tots drop-off spot.

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6. Chilly Chili Race 5k-December 7th

This event takes place at the Schaumburg Golf Club and is part of the Schaumburg Park District special event series.  Like the name suggests, participants will be rewarded with a warm chili lunch after a crisp December run. This race is timed and is for ages 10 and up.

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7. Rudolph Ramble 8k with Donner Dash- December 15th

Smack in the middle of Christmas season, the Rudolph Ramble is for those who want to make donations or contribute to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.  Bring your family, and run, walk, or just cheer festive runners on at this fun race.  Every 8K participant will receive a special Retro Knit Ski Hat in their choice of 3 colors and commemorative antlers.  The Donner Dash is designed for children ages 2 to 12 years, with age-group heats staged similar to the Turkey Day Run.

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8. New Year’s Day 5K Run/Walk-January 1st, 2014

Talk about starting the year off right. Lace up and join thousands of joggers and walkers in Lincoln Park at the city’s first official 5K of 2014.  Now celebrating its 29th year, this event starts at 11am.  For more info:

9. Commitment Day 5k-January 1st, 2014

Can’t get to Lincoln Park or want to run earlier that morning? Grant Park is also hosting a Commitment Day family-friendly run. Taking place in 35 cities across the nation, this race’s theme is to “commit” to a new year of living healthy.  Run along the Lakefront and through Downtown Chicago with your family and friends. This race is stroller-friendly and is sure to get your year off on a healthy foot.

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10. The Warm Your Heart Indoor, Single-Loop 5K-Febuary 23rd, 2014

The only indoor run of the season, this race course encompasses both Hall A and the East Building in McCormick Place. Run through the sky bridge over Lake Shore Drive and run along the Chicago’s skyline. This is a family-friendly special event limited to 2,500 runners.  It benefits Northwestern’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, just after heart-healthy Valentine’s Day.

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