Road race season is officially upon us- runners of Charlotte rejoice! With something for everyone, from the beginner runner attacking their first 5k to the seasoned athlete looking to collect another medal, 2016 is packed with the most scenic, challenging, and fun races Charlotte has seen yet. There are newcomer race events as well as your old favorites so dust off those running shoes, break out the headphones, check out our tips from OrthoCarolina at the links, and mark your calendars. You know you don’t want to get left in the dust.

Here are some running tips and guidance from an OrthoCarolina Physical Therapist on how to do it safely.

Read here about buying running shoes and making the right choice for you.

Learn from OrthoCarolina about distance training and running in our post here.

Mad Park 5k

When: March 12th Where: 4620 Park Road Good to know: This inaugural race is all about fostering a community of health and wellness in the Madison Park neighborhood. With plenty of food and beer at the finish line, runners shouldn’t have a problem staying motivated to push through the rolling hills on this course.    

Elizabeth 8k Road Race

When: March 19th Where: Hawthorne Recreation Center, 345 Hawthorne Lane Benefitting: The beautification of the Historic Elizabeth Neighborhood and the replenishing of area tree canopies. Good to know: Celebrating its 30th as Charlotte’s oldest race doesn’t mean that it is stuck in the past. This year’s shirts are made from 100% recycled materials thanks to local t-shirt company, Recover Brands. Pretty hip, if you ask me! The finish line party won’t disappoint with food, beer, live music from School of Rock, and even an Elvis impersonator. That’s right, the King will be here in the Queen City!  

Race Fest Half-Marathon, 5k, and 10k

When: April 16th
Where: Symphony Park at SouthPark Mall
Good to know: With such a wide range of distances from which to choose, this is a great event for friends and families to participate together. After 15 years of Race Fest, the race organizers have the formula for the perfect course and post-race party down to a science. Rest your tired muscles in the warm grass of the Symphony Park lawn as you enjoy live music and refreshments during the post-race celebration. Although I have never personally run this race, I am looking forward to trying out a course I’ve heard wonderful things about!

FreeMoreWest 5k on the Greenway

When: April 22nd
Where: Uptown Cycles/Yoga for Life parking lot on West Morehead
Benefitting: Classroom Central
Good to know: With a 6pm start-time, this race leaves any non-morning people zero excuses. Sorry I’m not sorry! Take advantage of the tree-lined parks and greenways in this growing area and be sure to check out some of the neighborhood favorites after the race including Rhino Market, Picante Mexican Grill, and Pinky’s Westside Grill. “Party Central,” AKA the start/finish line, is located in the parking lot of Uptown Cycles and Yoga for Life on West Morehead. Run fast and party on!

The Holy Trinity Catholic School Bulldog 5k

When: April 23rd Where: St. Matthew Catholic School, 11525 Elm Lane Benefitting: A Child’s Place Good to know: Aside from benefitting a great organization that works to erase the impact of homelessness on children and their education, this race ends on a downhill slope… score!    

The Sarcoma Stomp 5k/3k

When: April 30th Where: Christ Lutheran Church, 4545 Providence Road Benefitting: Levine Cancer Institute Good to know: This race is a great option for the little runners in your life. Not only do participants get a performance shirt, but the kids can get their faces painted, appreciate some balloon art, or try their luck at one of the games while parents indulge in a post-race massage, courtesy of Massage Envy.  

#sarcomastomp 5k and post race massages! 💜 A photo posted by daniellepleach (@daniellepleach) on Apr 18, 2015 at 6:44am PDT

Charlotte Skyline Run

When: April 30th
Where: CPCC Central Campus, 1206 Elizabeth Avenue
Benefitting: CPCC Foundation
Good to know: Another great race for children and families! In addition to the 5k, there is a family fun run and tot trot. The proceeds from participants’ registration will fund scholarships and educational initiatives for deserving CPCC students.

Miles Against Melanoma 5k

When: April 30th Where: Raintree Neighborhood Benefitting: The Carolina’s Melanoma and Immunotherapy Fund at Carolina HealthCare System’s Levine Cancer Institute Good to know: I cringe when I think back to how I used to “lay out” with little-to-no protection from the sun. We were all young and dumb once, putting our bodies through the ringer, but geez. This race seeks to raise awareness for the risks of sun exposure and encourages participants and the community to “save the skin you’re in.” Get a SPF tech tee when you register before April 1st (and that’s no fooling).    

OrthoCarolina 10k Classic

When: August 20th Where: OrthoCarolina Sports Medicine Center on the corner of Randolph Road and N. Colonial Avenue Benefitting: RunningWorks and Care Ring Good to know: Almost as exciting as the food truck and beer fest at the finish line, this race has two amazing beneficiaries: RunningWorks and Care Ring. RunningWorks encourages the homeless community to further develop their teamwork, discipline, and confidence through running while Care Ring offers access to medical and dental care for the uninsured and underinsured. Although I highly suggest the 10k course and have run it myself for the past 2 years, there are also 5k and fun run options at this event. If you do choose to do the 10k, prepare yourself for a fun but challenging and hilly course through Plaza Midwood and Elizabeth with plenty of sights to see along the way.  

Because it’s been a while and I like medals😜 #Orthocarolina10k #brooks #runhappy A photo posted by Mary (@maryann2980) on Aug 22, 2015 at 5:59am PDT

I can’t wait to hit the road and hope that you’ll join me this Spring! Schedule your appointment with OrthoCarolina today to make sure your body is in tip-top running shape. I’ve been hibernating and have consequently fallen far off of the distance running training wagon, so please be kind as you pass me on these courses. I accept encouraging waves and high-fives. Good luck, runners!