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.
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.
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.
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.
Grit 'N Wit is more than just a three-mile obstacle course—it's also a test of intellectual stamina. Along with climbing walls, monkey bars, and other physical tests, the race challenges runners with puzzles that, when solved, provide advantages down the road. At race's end, not only will participants come away with the satisfaction of using their brains and muscles at the same time, they'll also receive a Grit 'N Wit t-shirt and a complimentary beer from Half Full Brewery. Proceeds from the race benefit Friend of Jaclyn, an organization dedicated to helping children with pediatric brain tumors and their families.
The Dirty Dash isn't the kind of race where runners try to set a new record. There are no ribbons or trophies for the first runner across the finish line either. That's because the real fun of this race isn't in winning, it's in the actual running itself. And watching groups of costumed adults play in the mud, of course.
Part light-hearted race, part military-style obstacle course, The Dirty Dash challenges runners with a course strewn with muddy obstacles with a focus on fun. In order to reach the finish, runners will have to hop over hay bales in mud pits, navigate rows and rows of tires set in wet soil, and even launch themselves down a foamy, 175-foot slip-n-slide. Besides the ultimate reward—the opportunity to spend a day in the mud—each participant also gets a t-shirt, pig tattoo, bandana, and pig decal, as well as a perfect excuse to visit their favorite dry cleaner.