It's one thing to lace up sneakers and race a 5K, but could you do it with a horde of zombies trying to trip you up? Or with a Christmas tree on your head? Or how about having poofs of color lobbed at your white running clothes to turn you into a kaleidoscope by race's end? • With Florida's balmy winter weather, the next few months bring a nice selection of running events to choose from. But some race organizers are going for oddball fun over serious time-keeping and race standings.
Santa Speedo Run
You may hear cries of "My eyes!" as hundreds of Speedo-clad runners in Santa hats hit the streets of Ybor City Dec. 9 for the Santa Speedo Run. But the painful sight is for a good cause, the AIDS Service Association of Pinellas. Starting at 1 p.m. more than 200 runners will don skimpy swimwear and run a one-mile course starting and ending at Centennial Park, 1800 E Eighth Ave. in Ybor City. Now in its third year, the Santa Speedo Run started in Gulfport but grew to the point where a larger and more public area was needed, organizers said. Registration is $30 and can be completed online at the event website, SantaSpeedoRun.org. The money raised helps ASAP offer free HIV testing, prevention education, counseling, support services and other programs.
Jingle Bell Run
This run in downtown St. Petersburg, a benefit for the Boley Centers, has been going on for 30 years now and each year proves jollier than the one before. This year the race moves to a Friday night, Dec. 7, instead of its usual mid-week status. This isn't a very serious race, so don't expect to make a personal-best time. It's too mobbed to get any speed, and it's too much fun to people watch and take in the sights. Don't be surprised if you see a Grinch and Cindy Lou Who racing by or Santa in running shorts. There are bands along the way to keep up the cheer and it's a great way to see downtown St. Petersburg all lit up for Christmas. The race costs $20 to enter, $15 for ages 12 and younger, and is the biggest fundraiser for the Boley Centers, a non-profit that supports people who are disabled, disadvantaged or in recovery. Call (727) 821-4819 or go to boleycenters.org/special-events/jingle-bell-run.html to sign up. Online registration closes Dec. 6 at 5 p.m. You can register on race night at the registration table behind the Pier, 800 Second Ave. NE in St. Petersburg.
You have two choices for this race on Dec. 22: You can run from the zombies (you register as "bait") or you can join the zombie horde, a heavily made-up cadre of flesh-starved zombies who are out to steal one of three flags from the runners, which represent their "lives." The goal of the runner is to make it to the finish line with at least one life left. Runners select a start time and run 3.1 miles with obstacles to avoid and zombies to dodge. The zombies hunt in 90-minute shifts and are staged throughout the race course. They are eligible to run the course once they've fulfilled their deadly duty. The first wave of runners begins at 9 a.m., and the last wave is at 3 p.m. in the woods of the Little Everglades Ranch, 17951 Hamilton Road, Dade City. There will be a post-apocalypse party afterward, with one free beer for runners over 21 (minimum age is 14 with a parental waiver for this race). Online registration at the5kzombierun.com closes Dec. 20 unless it sells out first. There will be no registrations on race day. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Shriners Hospital for Children. The registration prices are: $90 5K runner; $60 zombie horde. You can buy extra life flags for runners at $10 each. Spectators require a $25 ticket, or get a spectator ticket for $12.50 if purchased at the same time as a runner or zombie registration. Parking is $10 for all, including volunteers.
The Color Run
Making its first appearance in the bay area, this popular race is less about speed and more about enjoying a color-crazy day with friends and family where you end up looking like a Jackson Pollock painting by the end of the race. Come dressed in white and get ready to be blitzed in an ambush of safe color bombs as you run along a 5K street course through downtown St. Petersburg. Dubbed "the happiest race on the planet," you can race individually or in teams. Registration is $35-$55 online at thecolorrun.com/stpete. Even if you aren't running, this eye-popping display of color bombs will be a must-see for spectators on Dec. 15 at 9 a.m. at Vinoy Park, 501 Fifth Ave. NE in St. Petersburg.