For those who dream of taking on some of the nation's toughest extreme mud runs, the National Prep Race is the perfect soggy training ground. More family-friendly and less aggressive than the aforementioned gauntlets, the National Prep Race series still offers the thrills of a 5K mud run, just with a lowercase k. Every National Prep Race features two miles of wily challenges, which typically include scaling a 6-foot wall, hopscotching through the tires of destruction, slithering through the treacherous tubes, and mud-sliding across the finish line. Proceeds from every race benefit charities such as the Family Reach Foundation.
Frogs aren’t exactly known for being fierce, but The Bone Frog Challenge’s namesake skeleton frog makes more sense when you know that it is the unofficial mascot of the Navy SEALs—the creators of the rigorous race. The mascot honors the SEALs’ predecessors: the Underwater Demolition Teams of World War II, who were dubbed “Frogmen” for their ability to work underwater.
The Bone Frog Challenge challenges everyday civilians to act like SEALs, with an emphasis on functional fitness. While the muddy, timed races measure up to 12 miles long, they require more than speed and endurance. The military-style obstacles force participants to draw on reservoirs of strength, agility, and creativity to scale walls, swing on ropes across trenches, and slither under netting through puddles of mud. Although the races champion hard work, they also focus on fun, welcoming competitors across the finish line with music-filled after-parties complete with spreads of food and beer.
The Fitathlon Challenge blends the format and philosophy of decathlons and triathlons with the accessibility of a 5K. Great for all fitness levels, the event divides participants into four categories—Newbie, Beginner, Challenger, and Competitor. Separated into waves, runners move through a course fraught with obstacles designed to test strength, endurance, athleticism, and mental toughness. These obstacles include tire flips, wall climbs, and hill sprints that leave bodies sweaty and fatigued and minds feelings as confused as a fish in a geology class. Those competing in the Competitor division are eligible for cash and prizes awarded to the top three finishers in the male and female groups. A portion of all proceeds goes to benefit a local charity.
At YMCA Camp Wa Wa Segowea, 500 acres of forest encircle placid Harmon Pond—and during the Wa Wa Splash and Dash Duathlon, athletes make the most of the terrain. At the race's start, they swim the 400 yards across the pond. Next, they run 2 to 3 miles through the forest, earning extra points for running up and over trees. When they finally reach the finish line, they stop for festivities featuring refreshments, a raffle, and an awards ceremony.
In memory of MPO Peter J. Lavery and Officer Ciara McDermott, The Race to End Domestic Violence honors the sacrifice of uniformed police officers and those escaping domestic violence. On December 30, Master Police Officer Peter J. Lavery, the youngest of three police officer brothers, was fatally shot while responding to a domestic disturbance call. His memory serves as the inspiration for the 5K of his namesake that takes runners and walkers through off-road dirt trails and grass to raise funds for domestic violence support groups. Additionally, the race raises funds to support the Peter J. Lavery Memorial Scholarship Fund, which aids those seeking an education in law enforcement or criminal justice.
Ray Heon’s friends and family describe him as a man who had a big heart, a part of which was devoted to the Washington Redskins. These traits inspired the name for The Big Red 5K, a race established to celebrate Ray’s life after he died of cancer last November. Participants are welcome to run or walk the course, which begins at Lyman Memorial High School, loops around the Lebanon Green, and then ends at the Jonathan Trumbull Library. It’s fitting that those two buildings bookend the race, as a portion of all proceeds will be used to donate technological devices to them.
Runners can commemorate their day by posing for photographers before or after the race, and they each receive a race packet with a T-shirt, race bib, and swag from the race sponsors. Participants or robots at the end of their battery packs can also opt to complete just a small segment of the race (one lap around the Lebanon Green). Those there to cheer runners on can spend the day listening to live music and visiting the food and merchandise vendors.