Fun 5K Races in Arizona

One of my favorite things about living in Arizona is having the ability to run outside at any time throughout the year.

Sure, running mid-day in the summer months may not be a great idea, but if you are willing to wake up early or run late in the afternoon or at night, you can run outside every month of the year.

Over the last few years, I have been trying to sign up for fun 5k races to stay motivated to get my runs in and stay active.

Top 5K Races in Arizona

Below are some of my favorite 5k races in AZ:

1. Runners Den Pancake Run 5K

The Runners Den 5k has taken place for 44 years and is among the Phoenix metro area’s most popular niche 5k races. It typically is held in early February, which means it is a great race to start prepping for once you kick off your new year’s resolutions.

One of my favorite things about the race is they offer pancakes

The course is near the old Paradise Valley Mall, runs through local neighborhoods, and ends at the mall.

Additionally, they limit the number of runners, so there is plenty enough parking, running space, and limited lines for hydration, snacks, and, most importantly pancakes after the race!

2. Phoenix Shamrock Run

The Phoenix Shamrock race is another fun 5K run that takes place in Tempe at Kiwanis Park in Tempe every year. The race is limited to only 700 runners so be sure to put this race on your calendar and sign up early since it will likely be sold out if you wait until the last minute.

A hidden Leprechaun is set loose during the race, and if anyone can bypass the Leprechaun during the race, they will get a special prize at the end.

If you are into collecting cool racing medals, the Shamrock race has a sweet custom “Pot of Gold” race medal and a slick green racing shirt.

3. Odysea AquariRun

Not many people realize Arizona has one of the best aquariums in the country over in Scottsdale at the Odysea Aquarium. If you haven’t been to the aquarium before it is worth the visit and why not schedule a 5K why are you at it?

Runners are suggested to wear their best ocean-themed clothing with the top costume, winning a prize at the end of the race. The aquarium is located in the Arizona Boardwalk area, with plenty of other attractions to check out while you are there.

The Butterfly Wonderland experience is next to the aquarium and is a big hit for kids. The race is kid friendly with strollers welcomed and takes place around the circumference of the Arizona Boardwalk and parking lot. I plan on checking this race out this year and look forward to spending several hours post-race checking out the other attractions as well.

4. Pat’s Run (4.2 Miles)

While Pat’s Run isn’t technically a 5K, it is still one of Arizona’s best short races to check out. Pat’s run has been taking place for 19 years and finishes in Sun Devil Stadium.

This run takes place in Mid-April every year in Tempe and honors Pat Tillman, a former Arizona State, and Arizona Cardinal football player that gave up his football career to serve in the military and was killed in 2004.

This is a very popular run in Arizona so be sure to sign up early and get down to Tempe a couple of hours early to find a parking spot since spots typically fill up quickly. Another great option is to take the light rail into Tempe, and you can hop off close to the race location!

5. Bubble Run-Tucson or Phoenix

The Bubble Run 5K is a fun race that takes place in Tucson every year. The race has different bubble displays that soak runners in bubbles at different points throughout the 5k.

This race is great for the whole family to participate in and strollers and wagons are encouraged. Running can be a drag and events like this are a great way to make memories with friends and family while still getting some great exercise.

If you can’t make the race in Tucson, there is also a race in Phoenix in the fall.

6. Foam Glow 5K

Another fun race that involves bubbles is the Foam Glow 5K which takes place in Phoenix in the spring every year. The Foam glow runs at night, and runners get a variety of glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces to make them visible.

Each runner gets a t-shirt, temporary tattoo, and a Foam Glow after party with live music, dancing, and more. A post-race after-party is a great idea and one I wish more races would offer! What better way to celebrate your accomplishment than to let loose at a neon-foam party?

7. Starline Racing

The Starline Racing Series offers a variety of 5k options throughout the state at different times throughout the year.

Some of my favorites are the following:

  • Yarnell Memorial Run
  • Running with the Beards
  • Mesa Turkey Trot
  • Hot Summer Nights

Starline Racing does an excellent job of giving runners a variety of options to choose from. One word of advice is to sign up early for the races you are interested in because many do sell out.

8. Here We Go Running Race Series

Here We Go Running is another group that holds a few yearly races that are a blast.

The Lovers lane 5K is a big hit and takes place before Valentine’s day, and there are homemade choco chunk cookies to after the race.

The next race is the Pi Day 5K which is also at Arizona Falls and also includes shirts and medals and runners get to throw Pies in the faces of volunteers!

The last race is the D-Day 5k which is a great way to remember our military’s sacrifices. This race is also at Arizona Falls, one of my favorite places to run in Arizona.

9. Whiskey Row 5k

The Whiskey Row Marathon is in Prescott Arizona and is one of the most scenic races in the state. Prescott is a great place to spend a weekend, and while this race is known for its half and full marathon, there is a 5k and 10k race as well.

I like signing up for races where I can spend some time after the race doing something fun after the rest of the day. Prescott offers great restaurants, hiking trails, and even nearby lakes if you want to get out on a kayak.

10. Taco “Bout Fun Run

The Taco Bout Fun Run takes place in the cool pines of Flagstaff Arizona and as the name suggests includes a Taco at the finish! This is a great family race and is stroller friendly.

One of the challenges of running in the Phoenix area is the weather is typically over 100 degrees in the summer, while Flagstaff typically sees temperatures between 60-80 degrees which makes for perfect running weather.

11. Arizona Summer Series

The Arizona Road Racers host plenty of races throughout the year but my favorites are the Arizona Summer Series races from May-August

It’s easy to shut down running in the extreme heat in Arizona like people do in cold weather in the midwest.

Participating in the Summer Series races is a great way to stay active during the summer and keep your training activity up.

Final Word

I never thought I would enjoy running as much as I do now and signing up for fun 5k races has kept my training going throughout the year.

Many of these races can be run for as little as $40 and typically include a t-shirt and medal. So get out there and sign up for a few 5K’s in Arizona this year and I bet you won’t regret it!

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