Five Fun 5Ks in North Missouri

5K's and Fun Runs give you a chance to get outside and support your community while also enjoying some Missouri scenery and getting some exercise.

5K races and fun runs give you a chance to support your community while enjoying Missouri scenery.

Hundreds and thousands of people running 3.1 miles may not sound like a fun activity to you. Yet, many people enjoy the activity and pay to be in organized races, relays or fun runs.

I am one of them.

The purpose of the fun run is to raise money for a worthy cause, the free T-shirt is a just a perk. Actually, there is a lot that is attractive about a fun 5k. It’s a chance to compete with yourself and to get your blood pumping. It gives you the chance to enjoy beautiful, natural scenery or run on what would normally be a busy street and enjoy the architecture.

There are fun runs and races held throughout the year all over the state of Missouri. Here is a list of five fun 5ks in north Missouri I would like to participate in during the next 12 months. Maybe you will be inspired to join one or all five. Runners of all levels and ages are welcome.

CASA Superhero 5K/Fun Run in Hannibal

The first 5K will be held in Hannibal on July 27, to benefit the local Court Appointed Special Advocates (or CASA). CASA is a non-profit organization devoted to changing the lives of abused and neglected children. Like the title suggests, in this 5K you can dress up as your favorite superhero, so this fun run will make for some good photo opportunities. Registration on the day of the race begins at 6:30 a.m., and the race starts at 7:30 a.m. Go to this link for information about the course and registration. After the race there will be a “Super Kid Events.” Hannibal’s own Tom and Becky will make an appearance, and there will be face painting, carnival games and a karate demonstration.

Hospital Hill Fun Run in Bethany

The Hospital Hill Fun Run will be held on October 12 at 9 a.m. at the Harrison County Community Hospital in Bethany. This 5K benefits the county-wide Transportation Fund to help newly diagnosed cancer patients travel to hospitals outside of their area. Registration is $10, making this one of the cheapest 5K runs you can enter. You can pick up registration forms at the Radiology Department of the HCCP, or before 9 a.m. the day of the race. The race itself goes from the heart of the business district to tree-shaded back lanes, then past the park and back to the hospital. Some runners wear pink, in honor of October being National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Not only is this a relaxing run, but it gives me a good feeling to know that my money is helping the local community.

“Through the Woods” Trail Run and Walk 5K in Parkville Nature Sanctuary

This event, held in the Kansas City suburb of Parkville, is different from the other 5Ks. “Through the Woods” is a trail run, so you run through natural terrain instead of on the street. It takes you through trails in the Parkville Nature Sanctuary, then onto the beautiful grounds of Park University. Park University is picturesque, resembling a castle on the hillside. This 5K is a little more challenging. There are some rocky areas and hills. But you can take your time and enjoy some of the trails that helped Missouri win the Best Trails State award from the non-profit group American Trails.

This event is hosted by the Main Street Parkville Association. It benefits the Christmas on the River Parkville Event, and the Nature Sanctuary. This year it will be on November 2 at 10 a.m., starting in the Parkville Nature Sanctuary. You can get information on the upcoming race and registration here. After the race, take a stroll through the specialty stores in the historic, scenic downtown. Have lunch at the charming and intimate French café, Café Des Amis, their Crème Brule is the perfect reward for finishing a 5K.

MDT's St. Charles ChristmasSanta’s North Pole Dash 1 Mile Fun Walk and 5K in St. Charles

St. Charles is a magical place in the Christmas season. The brick-paved streets are decorated in fresh greenery and red ribbons, chestnuts are roasted over open fires … and herds of Santas go thundering down Historic Main Street at the Santa’s North Pole Dash held on December 14. Last year, this race had 3,000 participants, and this year there are expected to be 5,000. Spaces fill up fast, so it may be best to register soon. The cost of registration is $30 until sometime in late October, and the funds go towards the Greater St. Charles County Chamber of Commerce. After the race, stick around and experience the enchantment of a St. Charles Historic Downtown Christmas. Many Main Street merchants offer deals to runners who wear their Santa’s North Pole Dash t-shirts. And for those of you of age, there will be a post-race pub crawl.

Hannibal Cannibal 5K/10K/15K Run, 5K walk, and Kid’s Fun Run in Hannibal

The final race brings us full circle back to Hannibal, for the grand-daddy of 5Ks, the ravenous Hannibal Cannibal. Held during the National Tom Sawyer Days in Hannibal, this is one of the toughest races in America. All the proceeds collected from the Hannibal Cannibal go to the Hannibal Regional Hospital Foundation. This coming year it will be on July 5, 2014, starting at 7 a.m. before the heat sets in.

What makes this course unique is that it takes runners-up the steep incline of Lover’s Leap, a rocky bluff just off of Highway 79. The race starts in Hannibal’s downtown district on Main Street, goes up Highway 79 (also known as the Great River Road), and then comes the part of the race that will “eat you up.”

The road to the top of Lover’s Leap becomes steep almost immediately off of Highway 79, and by the time you reach the top it feels like a ninety-degree angle. However, the course back to the finish line is almost completely downhill. Who would put themselves through this, you ask? More than 2,000 runners participated in the 2013 race. There is also a 5K walk and a Fun Run for kids.

These five 5Ks are only a handful of the organized races in Missouri. If you want to go more extreme, there are races that feature obstacle courses, or zombies, or both. Most of the races aren’t meant to be competitive. Rather, they are a way to give back to the community or support a charity and get in a little exercise while doing so. It also provides a chance to see a side of Missouri you may not have seen before. But the best part is the free T-shirt.

Written by Sally Anton, Eagleville Welcome Center supervisor.