Though we have a lot of love for half marathons, who could resist a fun and fast 5K or 10K? These shorter distances can have their place in a racing schedule–a way to test the waters as you’re building up your mileage or your main goal. Since they are shorter (3.1 and 6.2 miles respectively) you can play around with pace more and test your speed in ways that you normally can’t in longer distance races.
We’ve rounded up 10 of the best 5Ks and 10Ks to add to your racing bucket list. Some are newer, but became noteworthy for the causes they support or the big names behind them. Others are longstanding, lauded by elite athletes and everyday runners alike.
If you like the 10K distance, check out our top 15 10Ks of 2024.
The Best 10K Races in the US
July 4, 2023
For more than 50 years, the Peachtree Road Race 10K has taken over the streets of Atlanta. The popular race starts in Lenox Square, unsurprisingly, on Peachtree Road where the point-to-point 10K is mostly run. After five miles, the course leads runners onto 10th Street and finishes at Piedmont Park. Prepare for a hilly course with the biggest uphill about halfway through.
What makes this race fun? The energy. Surrounded by a group of dedicated runners and on-course entertainment every half mile, you might even be able to forget about the burning hills. It also takes place on July 4–so don your red, white, and blue running gear and get going. This race is one of the most popular and best 10K races in the US.
BolderBoulder in Boulder, Colorado
May 27, 2024
Another long-standing race, now in its 44th year, the BolderBoulder is an institution in Boulder, Colorado. In fact, it’s one of the largest races in the United States (behind the Peachtree Road Race and New York City Marathon), drawing in nearly 50,000 runners every year.
The Memorial Day 10K is a serious race for some (with a robust elite showing), but is more of a party for most. The point-to-point course in this college town is full of music, slip ‘n’ slides, front yard pools, cupcakes, costumes–just about any silly distraction you can think of. The course starts over a mile above sea level, and is only slightly hilly. The highlight of the BolderBoulder is the finish line inside the University of Colorado football stadium, Folsom Field. 44 years in business make this one of the best 10K races in the US.
Vancouver Sun Run in Vancouver, British Columbia
April 24, 2023
The Vancouver Sun Run is Canada’s largest 10K race. The point-to-point course gives runners a tour of downtown, along the English Bay waterfront and Beach Avenue, over the Burrard Bridge, and finishes at the BC Place Stadium. Along the way you’ll hear nearly 20 bands performing.
The post-race party happens at BC Place where there is more live entertainment, a kids zone, and some post-race snacks. The race takes place in April, which is hit or miss weather-wise in Vancouver. Cold and rainy is as possible as dry and sunny. But rain or shine, the energy of the racers around you makes it a fun day either way.
Mastercard New York Mini 10K in New York, New York
June 10, 2023
This women’s only 10K is an historic road race with roots in the female liberation movement. The race, which started in 1972, was named for the miniskirt, an icon of feminism at the time. The course is a near loop, taking runners on a tour around and through Central Park. The flatness of the course may seem simple enough, but be prepared for warm temps and humidity in New York in June to slow you down.
New York Road Runners, encourage runners to bring their daughters as well to participate in the 1 mile GIrls Run. Registration is free for girls 18 and under.
Crescent City Classic in New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans may be known for its Mardi Gras celebrations, but for runners, this Easter weekend event is the real star. The 6.2-mile point-to-point course is basically a highlight reel of the city. Starting at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, participants run along Canal Street, past historic Jackson Square, through the French Quarter, past New Orleans City Park, and finish in front of the New Orleans Museum of Art.
This 10K race has a fun atmosphere in general, with bands at each mile marker and ample crowd support. The post-race party is a true party with more live music and libations.
The Best 5K Races in the US
Elk Run 5K in Crested Butte, Colorado
September 30, 2023
Founded by Olympic steeplechaser Emma Coburn in 2017, the Elk Run 5K is a challenging, yet epicly fun race. Located in Coburn’s hometown, Crested Butte, Colorado, the course features some truly stunning scenery at a breathtaking 9,000-foot elevation. Going up Peanut Road, racers can expect the best views of Mt. Crested Butte and Maroon Bells. The race typically takes place in September, just as the aspen leaves are starting to change to a glittering golden color.
Proceeds from the race go to Living Journeys, a local charity that provides financial and emotional support to people affected by cancer. Coburn’s mother died from cancer in January after a three year battle. Since starting the Elk Run, more than $200,000 have been raised for Living Journeys.
Nikki Hiltz’s Pride 5k in Flagstaff, Arizona
Another 5K started by a dynamo elite runner, the Pride 5K takes place in one of the all-time best running towns: Flagstaff, Arizona. Nikki Hiltz, a middle-distance runner, originally started the Pride 5K as a virtual run during the pandemic in 2020. When they moved to Flagstaff from San Diego they transitioned it to an in-person race for 2022, but still have a virtual option.
The Pride 5K has become iconic, filled with a lot of love and joy, happening in October annually. The race swag is highly coveted, usually including a T-shirt with a retro vibe. Don’t be surprised if they sell out. Proceeds from the race go to the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth.
Disney Wine & Dine 5K in Orlando, Florida
November 3, 2023
For fun-loving runners, this Disney World Resort 5K is about as fun as it gets. Each race within November’s Wine & Dine weekend boasts a different theme. The 5k is Alice in Wonderland themed, so be prepared for some kooky sightings.
Other reasons to love this race: mild fall temperatures, Disney character sightings, and a post-race party at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Though it’s on the pricier side for a 3.1 mile race, your race entry also includes entry to the festival. Spectators can purchase tickets to the Food and Wine Festival separately.
Carlsbad 5000 in Carlsbad, California
April 7, 2024
Carlsbad 5000 carries the title of World’s Fastest 5K. The race takes place every year in Carlsbad, on the northern coast of San Diego. The event is produced by Groundwork Endurance, which is owned by famous runner Meb Keflezighi – the only runner to win the New York City Marathon, Boston Marathon, and an Olympic Marathon medal.
The event has seven different 5K races separated by age and gender. The course is a south-to-north loop on Carlsbad Boulevard along the Pacific Coast. The course has a downhill finish in Carlsbad Village. Every year, the race attracts 11,500 spectators and over 8,500 runners.
Santa Anita Derby Day 5K in Santa Anita, CA
April 8, 2024
The Santa Anita race track is known as “the great race place,” and on Derby Day in April, runners get a 5K taste of that horse racing legacy. The point-to-point course is memorable and worthy of running more than once. At the Santa Anita Derby Day 5K racers start near gate 3, run through the LA arboretum and botanic garden, and finish on the Santa Anita Race Track. The race starts at 8:00 am, early enough to beat the warm weather typical in Santa Anita in April.
The post-race party is also noteworthy. Organizers go all out with carnival rides, live music, and two free beers for runners 21+. As a bonus, race registration includes a ticket to the Derby Day horse races and an additional ticket to be used for a future visit.