Founded in 2007, the Rockford Half Marathon & 10K challenges runners to take on one of two races: a 13.1-mile half marathon or a 10K. Runners of all skill levels from over 20 different states pace themselves along a stunning waterfront race course that traces the path of downtown Rockford's Rock River. Electronic chips are provided to all runners for the most accurate race timing and to let everyone channel the spirit of the bionic man. Cash prizes are awarded to the top three male and female finishers.
Zooma Women's Race Series hosts races all over the country. In Napa Valley, for example, the half-marathon and 10K wind through lush wine country. The Cape Cod races take place within sight of the ocean and seaside resorts. Chicago runners enjoy views of Lake Michigan and its fish that famously taste like Chicago-style hot dogs. Besides their distances, the events have two other things in common: they're just for women, and they're not just races. Instead, the race series tends to resemble weekend fitness getaways, where mocktail parties, recovery yoga, and other entertainment complement the long runs.
When founder and executive director Brae Blackley was starting out, however, her mission didn't involve fancy drinks or shopping outings. Working at a makeshift coffee-shop desk, her goals were simple: to empower women to lead healthy, active lifestyles and to create a community of female runners. But when Blackley paired her first race in Annapolis with social activities, it drew more than 1,500 participants—and she knew that she was onto something. Her enterprise has grown from there into today's national women's race series.
In 1976, busy California mother Joan Barnes wanted nothing more than to find a play place where she and her kids could enjoy age-appropriate, educational activities. Finding none, she developed her own innovative play environment within a developmental-based program structure now known as Gymboree Play & Music. Today, kids tumble and learn in more than 650 locations in 33 countries around the world, engaging in open play and classes designed to build cognitive and motor skills. As parents participate in their children's development, their kids learn to paint, play music, and interact socially outside of their preschool knitting circles.
In case of a zombie apocalypse, a few simple principles could be a survivor's salvation: Be prepared, be paranoid, and above all, run. Participants in the Infected Zombie 5K Trail Run get a chance to practice, and can play either living or dead as they navigate a woodland arena infested with walking, crawling, running, and climbing zombies. Some courses may challenge runners with additional obstacles, such as climbing walls, tire fields, and haystacks. Meanwhile, the zombies attempt to satisfy their hunger for fast food by surprising the runners and snatching flags off of their waists. Whether they've been caught, the living make up with the dead at the after-party, which features unlimited beer, award ceremonies, and live music.
The course itself carries on that fun vibe, too. Winding through city streets and local parks, the 5K route is dotted with hydration stations that dole out hot chocolate. Holiday music, a giant Santa inflatable, and snow blowers help to set
The 2014 Fitness Fusion Expo is put on by the ThYck Troupe organization, a nonprofit performing-arts company that creates performance opportunities for women with curves. Today, ThYck Troupe has gained the support of Secretary of State Jesse White and Governor Pat Quinn in its mission to enrich the Chicago arts community.
In addition to mentoring young women and promoting size acceptance, the troupe produces an original web series, organizes fashion shows, and showcases performers in theatrical and musical productions. With the Thyck and Fit Initiative, they broadcast a message of health as well as confidence, giving full-figured women and men the tools they need to achieve good exercise and nutrition habits at any size.