The kids are lurking around each turn of the 5-kilometer course, their hands full of Super Soakers, water balloons, and other aquatic artillery. A group of runners comes into view, and suddenly it's like the zipper broke on a rain cloud. The children shower the race participants and help them fight the swelter of the Arizona heat. Those who don’t wish to be “hit” wear bright red and wave a white flag in surrender. The kids—who have been instructed to only aim for the neck down—let these ones pass sans moisture.
The Splash Mob 5K puts this cool, watery twist on the standard race. Not only does it keep participants cool and kids smiling, but it also raises funds for a good cause: the Children First Academy. This Title I school educates approximately 300 students, 68% of which are homeless and 100% of which qualify for free breakfast and lunch.
After going on a number of boring hikes around Phoenix, the husband-and-wife duo behind Vertical Hiking Tours decided they had the perfect solution—pair hikes with other fun things to do in Phoenix. On one of their hikes, for example, the group explores the Phoenix desert while a photographer teaches techniques for capturing its natural beauty. On another desert hike, the group makes frequent stops to strike yoga poses, guided by a yoga instructor. Every excursion is also helmed by a guide certified in CPR, and First Aid.
As night falls, participants in the noncompetitive Rave Run pull on neon T-shirts, don glow-in-the dark glasses, and stuff their pockets with glow sticks. Spectators look on as the throng of illuminated runners, which includes kids and adults, make their way through a 5-kilometer course that winds through city streets.
The event culminates with an after party, where a DJ spin tunes and powerful lasers cast out beams that illuminate wide smiles and the secret locations of any lost arks in the vicinity. Fog machines and CO2 jets help create a high-adrenaline atmosphere as attendees dance with their glow-in-the-dark compatriots. All the fun is for a good cause; The Rave Run partners with a local charity in each participating city.
The Lead the Field 5K serves multiple purposes, none more important than raising money for the Maricopa Health Foundation—the only public health system in the state of Arizona. But the race also celebrates wellness, both of its participants and of a completely renovated Riverview Park that has finally shaken off the grogginess of hibernation. During the 5K, runners and walkers of all ages transform the state-of-the-art facility into a haven for health. Collectively, they race toward the finish line, where medals recognize the top performers in every age group. The celebration doesn't end there, though, since an on-site fitness fest keeps the bash rolling into the afternoon with music, food, and health screenings.
Plenty of couples meet online, but Adventures 2000 ensures they can also meet over a moonlit hike or an afternoon skydive. Though not a matchmaking service, the network connects singles aged 21–55 throughout the Phoenix area with a range of professionally organized events. These informal happenings are conducted in a low-pressure atmosphere, making it easier for participants to make new friends or meet someone special to adopt a highway with. Adventures 2000's staff coordinates 30–35 of these activities and events each month, from horseback riding, whitewater rafting, and rock climbing to dinner parties and game nights. They also organize outings to live concerts and theatrical productions, and plan excursions as playful as themed treasure hunts or as elaborate as week-long travel packages. To ensure a safe and carefree attitude of the events, the staff extensively screens all new members.
It all started with a youth sports organization. Champions of Wickenburg Youth, or COWY for short, supports youth athletic programs and helps instill traits in youngsters, such as discipline, teamwork, and perseverance. But they need money to do so. That's where Wickenburg's Wild West Run comes in. The run, now in its second year, raises funds for the organization while encouraging the health and fitness of its participants. During the run, participants sprint along an undulating course that affords them views of the rugged landscape. Afterward, they gather in Sunset Park for the afterparty, which includes games and lively discussions about what the K in 5K might stand for.