8 Upcoming Upstate Races, for the Amateur to the Avid Runner

As Winter is (hopefully) starting to wind down, have you started to think about the Spring/early Summer racing season? It seems like there are more and more races to choose from every year. Here in upstate, NY, there are plenty of interesting options. I’ll include some oldies and some new ones for you to consider. Having a race to train for and look forward to is the perfect way to banish those midwinter blues.

1) The 18th Annual Polar Bear 5k
Sunday, February 23, Olcott, NY

bear2The fun thing about this race is that you are trying to beat the bear (someone running in a polar bear costume). If you beat the bear, you get a t-shirt that says that. If not, you’re out of luck. Kidding! You do get a consolation shirt that says you didn’t beat the bear (see below). Olcott is on the shores of Lake Ontario, and easy to get to from Rochester or Buffalo. You can see my review of the 2012 race HERE.


2) Johnny’s Runnin’ of the Green 5 mile, Saturday, March 15, Rochester, NY

For many people, this event is the start of their outdoor racing season. Expect a lot of green costumes, headbands, bagels and post race beer. I’ve never done this one myself, but it does look like fun (even if you just want to be a spectator).  Run the race and then stay for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Below is a short video clip from last year’s race. Over 2,000 people ran this one in 2013. Weather can go either way, but it’s usually quite cold. No worries, you’ll warm up fast!

3) The Bunny Hop 5k,
East Aurora, NY, Saturday, April 19


You know you’re going to be eating your fair share of jelly beans and chocolate Easter eggs the next day, so you might as well do something to burn them off. There is a big hill in this race, so just know that it can be a bit of a challenge. However, I’ve also heard the post race party is great, so I’m sure that makes up for it (one can hope). Plus, the registration form specifically says “No Whining,” so take heed. East Aurora is a pretty suburban town near Buffalo.

sonnenberg4) Sonnenberg Spring 5k Run/Stroll,
Saturday, May 3, Canandaigua, NY
Have you ever been to Sonnenberg Gardens? It’s a beautiful property with lovely grounds and buildings. In my opinion, early May is the perfect time of year to see flowers blooming. Plus, you can get in your workout at  the same time. I’m not sure if this is the first year for this race, but it looks like a nice one. All proceeds will go to the day-to-day operational expenses of Sonnenberg.

5) The Color Run (the Kaleidoscope Tour)
Saturday, May 24, Rochester, NY
By now, most people have heard of this race, also known as the “Happiest 5k on the Planet.” You run thru stations where colored cornstarch is thrown at you. It’s untimed, non competitive, and perfect for the first timer or avid runner who just wants to have fun without any pressure. It’s great for walkers as well. I’ve run two Color Runs, one in Rochester, and one in Columbus, Ohio. This is a great race to do as a team. There’s loud music, prizes and dancing at the finish line festival where you can throw your color packet in the air to create a kaleidoscope of color. This race is held in over 30 countries. I know this type of theme race is not for everyone, but I think it’s great for friends, families and coworkers. You can see my review of last year’s race HERE.
colorrunblue6) Foam Fest 5k – Mud Run & Fun Run
Batavia, NY, Saturday, June 7

I signed up for this one, and, after looking at the description a little more carefully, I’m a little nervous. This is an obstacle race where you go thru mud and foam. The photo above is from their website. I like the clean part, but the mud and the different obstacles – not so much. I did a bubble run back in the fall (see HERE for review), but this definitely seems more intense. Still, it looks like a lot of fun. Go at your own pace, and I am sure you will have a blast. Just like The Color Run, runners go in waves – so you can pick your starting time – a nice perk if you want to sleep in a bit. The race is held at a Motorcross speedway, halfway between Rochester and Buffalo.

7) Girls on the Run 5k – Rochester
June 7, 2014 6 pm at Monroe Community College

8) Girls on the Run 5k – Buffalo
June 8, 2014 – Amherst, NY 9:30 a.m. University of Buffalo

GOTRIf you want to be inspired, this is the race. Girls on the Run is a cause near and dear to my heart. GOTR is a non profit group that teaches girls to run their first 5k. However, it is much more than that. Over 10 weeks, these girls learn life lessons, ranging from how to handle bullying to improving their confidence and self esteem. It’s not just a race, but an event for the whole family. Families can run this together, or just go to watch – you can even be a running buddy. I’m a volunteer and former board member, and I cannot say enough about what a life changing experience this program and race can be.

This is only a small sampling of the Spring and early Summer races that await you. Simply click on the race name from my list above for more details about any of the races I’ve described. It will bring you to additional details about race fees and registration. If you want to see an entire list of upcoming races for the Rochester and Buffalo area, check out the links below.

Here’s to a great racing season in 2014! Until next time, see you on the roads.. 🙂

Buffalo: Buffalo Runners Page Race Calendar

Rochester Race Calendars

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