The YMCA keeps residents healthy and engaged in more than 10,000 neighborhoods across the country, but it traces its American origins to the streets of 19th-century Boston. Here, Thomas Valentine Sullivan carried on the mission started in London by George Williams: providing affordable recreation and residence to young men from cities and country towns alike. Over the last century and change, the organization's mission changed to keep pace with the evolving times; today, the YMCA of Greater Boston welcomes anyone interested in furthering the causes of "youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility."
This modern mission combines the Y's signature programming with new initiatives designed to keep citizens one step ahead of an ever-changing world. Members stay fit and active with everything from organized sports and fitness classes to lifeguard, CPR, and first aid lessons. But the Y's developmental programs go far beyond bodily strength; their enrichment and leadership courses equip youths with the confidence needed to take charge in their everyday lives, and ESL classes help newcomers to English embark on the next step of their linguistic lives.
The Great Bull Run brings the thrill of Pamplona's historic event to cities across the United States. Modeled after the Running of the Bulls, this one-day event enables participants to race live bulls, keeping one step ahead of the charging animals to finally prove that toes are better for running than hooves. While the historic Pamplona event has had few serious injuries in its 102 years of existence, The Great Bull Run staff takes even more precautions to ensure runners stay smiling from beginning to end. Additionally, the bulls are given the full respect they deserve, and are not antagonized or harmed before, during, or after the run.
Following the race, runners and newcomers can gather together for a good old-fashioned food fight. Tomato Royale arms entrants with juicy fruit that they can fling at each other. Additional post-run activities include an after-party, live entertainment, and games as well as food and beverages.
Tomato plants are imperfect, yielding just as many inedible fruits as the healthy, tasty ones. The organizers of The Tomato Bash devised an alternative employment for the unworthy bounty, transforming the leftover tomatoes into ammunition for a massive ketchup making party. Participants are encouraged to sport silly costumes for the big event, as they are inevitably going to get utterly filthy.
To kick off the festivities, revelers are entertained with a cadre of food trucks, beverage vendors, and DJ playing tunes, including rebellious anthems encouraging the tomatoes to throw themselves. At 3 p.m., the tomato foam machine outside of the tomato arena powers up, pumping the stage area full of bubbly, pink fruit foam. Then the hordes of goggle-clad contestants descend upon a large arena and lose themselves in a sea of red goo.
Foot-races seem like a natural fit for mingling singles?there are plenty of people, everyone has at least one common interest, and the athletic dress code means no stressing over what you're going to wear. So maybe it's surprising that events like the LUV RUN don't happen more often. Sporting color-coded bibs that denote their relationship status (blue for attached, green for available, and rainbow for available LGBT), the runners don't have to worry about a running clock?instead, they're encouraged to slow down and mingle with their fellow participants all the way to the finish line. There, a party featuring food, beer, and music provides a fun backdrop for more mingling until 9 p.m.
Though the event itself is always held at the same location, the scenery at the SouthField Classic 5K Road Race Walk & Run changes every year. The beginner-friendly race exhibits the ever-shifting landscape that is SouthField: a 1,400-acre community that's planned to be built in staggered phases, much like a gingerbread house during an icing shortage. Each year's 5K winds down the community's secluded streets, showing off its new homes and tree-lined vistas. Afterwards, race organizers hand out prizes to the top individuals and teams.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a better place to begin a race than near a sculpture of Aesop's Tortoise & Hare. Add to that its proximity to one of the nation's most well-known cross-country tracks, and it's the perfect starting point for Trail Master Killah, a 5K through Van Cortlandt Park's hills, wetlands, and forests. Participants will receive a race T-shirt, and top performers will take home a handmade trophy from SKT Ceramics. Registration also includes food and beer at the post-race party, which, thanks to organization by one of A Tribe Called Quest's producers, will feature some of the city's best hip-hop DJs. Proceeds go to Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, a community group that promotes conservation of the park and texts the trees when they're feeling lonely.