Generally, adulthood forces people to give up childish pleasures, robbing them of the joy associated with playing in puddles, unearthing hidden treasure, and being silly in public. Sierra Adventure Sports wants grownups to regress, if only for a day. In service of that goal, the company organizes a variety of novel races that range from city scavenger hunts for the casual adventurer to creative triathlon courses for the ambitious athlete.
The Mad Mud Run, for instance, challenges participants to sprint and frolic through a dirty and deliciously fun outdoor obstacle course littered with manmade obstructions such as cargo nets, hills of hay bales, monkey bars, and slimy mud pits. Extreme Heat Adventure Races combine equal parts triathlon and scavenger hunt to create a 10–12K journey filled with running, river rafting, and mystery challenges that could pit teams against anything from blindfolded puzzles to wall climbs. Most Sierra Adventure Sports events encourage racers to compete in costumes of all types save for gremlins, which multiply in water and unfairly dominate the timed results.
Not all runners are morning people, eagerly warming up before the latest crack-of-dawn race event. Luckily, the night owls have their own outlet: The Glo Run. The fluorescent 5K unleashes its participants into the dwindling light of the evening armed with glow sticks, glow-in-the dark bracelets, and light-up sunglasses. This illuminating paraphernalia helps them navigate the shadowy corners of the course, which features thumping music, lighting effects, and squirrels equipped with laser-beam eyes. At the finish line, runners and walkers can relish another staple of nighttime parties, dancing the evening away to rollicking tunes spun by a live DJ.
Adrenaline Sports Management corrals runners in an array of races to benefit several area charities, such as Back on My Feet and Fathers Helping Fathers. Each course winds its way through historic neighborhoods, lush lakefront paths, or energizing vistas, and most reward the top overall male and female finishers as well as the top-three runners in each category with medals or celebratory eye patches. Costume contests ramp up competition in the Halloween and Santa Hustles, with top prizes going to best individual costume, best group costume, or most-authentic centaur lookalike. At the many after-parties, finish-liners can revel in après-race accolades from family, friends, and shoulder-perched cherubs.
After dropping 136 and 89 pounds respectively on season 5 of NBC's The Biggest Loser, son-and-mom duo Dan and Jackie Evans hit the race circuit, promoting health and wellness as they ran more than 20 half-marathons. Today, the Evans continue their odyssey, traveling across the country to speak at The Biggest Loser RunWalk races, in which first-time runners and hardcore athletes alike can simply have fun exercising or take the first steps on their own path toward physical fitness. A festive atmosphere enlivens each race, from the scenic routes and live entertainment at the finish to the squeaking of running shoes cheering from the sidelines.
Halloween's tricks and treats meet heartwarming altruism as the McHenry Police Officers Association unveils the first annual Running Scared 5K for Special Olympics Illinois. The fun run—which also doubles as a fun walk, stroll, or lollygag if the participants choose—sends costumed friends and families on a trek from scenic Shamrock Farms Park through the subdivision of Legends Lake. Along the paved trail, racers can admire, giggle, and gasp at the array of swaying Halloween apparel before crossing the finish line. All proceeds go directly to Special Olympics Illinois, which enables athletes with disabilities to train and compete in sports events.
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.