10 Awesome Races, 5Ks, and Fun Runs to Do in Virginia in 2023

10 Awesome Races, 5Ks, and Fun Runs to Do in Virginia in 2023

Photo courtesy of Djimon Hounsou Foundation

By Aila Boyd

July 19, 2023

The camaraderie and energy from a race—whether a peppy 5k walk or a wild triathlon—are enough to keep your blood pumping. 

Check out this list of 10 super fun athletic events happening in Virginia between July and October that’ll keep you moving (and having a blast). 

VBLA Ocean Swim Series

Date: July 23 (3K or 1-Mile Swim) and Aug. 20 (5K or 1-Mile Swim)

Location: Virginia Beach

Fee: $45

If you want to participate in a race but prefer to swim over run, consider the Virginia Beach Lifeguard Association’s Ocean Swim Series. It is designed to “present confident ocean swimmers with a challenging race among strong competitors and to give novice or first-time ocean swimmers a chance to compete under the watchful eyes of top lifesavers.” There are two events left in the 2023 series, so register while you still can. 

Terrain Race

Date: Aug. 5

Location: Virginia Beach

Fees $60

The Terrain Race at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex will likely test your endurance, given it features 3 miles of mud, walls, ropes, monkey bars, and other challenging terrain. “We’re consistently striving for innovation and excitement in our obstacles, so there’s always a chance you’ll see something brand new,” organizers said. 

After the race, you’ll be invited to stick around in the festival area where you commiserate about the course with fellow participants, meet sponsors, eat, drink, and listen to music.  

Big Blue 5K

10 Awesome Races, 5Ks, and Fun Runs to Do in Virginia in 2023

Photo courtesy of J&A Racing

Date: Aug. 12

Location: Norfolk

Fee: $20-$45

The Big Blue 5K offers runners a chance to show off their Big Blue pride for Old Dominion University. It takes participants on a tour of the campus and finishes on the 50-yard line of Kornblau Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium

Be sure to conserve your energy for the postgame tailgate party where there will be live entertainment. Beer, a tank top, and bottle opener are included in the registration fee. There will also be a Big Blue 1K for runners aged 12 and under. 

Bubble Run

Date: Sept. 2

Location: Virginia Beach

Fees: $40

The Bubble Run at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex will take you through a 5K course full of bubbles that is fun for both children and adults. Small groups of participants will be released every 60-90 seconds at the start of the race. Your registration will get you a finisher medal, T-shirt, and temporary tattoo. Participants are encouraged to bring sunglasses, a towel, and change of shoes. Vendors and a live DJ will be on site. 

George Washington Patriot Run

Date: Sept. 10

Location: Mount Vernon

Fees: $50-$82

The George Washington Patriot Run will take you through a 5-mile stretch of the George Washington Parkway from GW Parkway Circle to West Boulevard Drive. As you cross the finish line, you’ll enjoy a beautiful view of Mount Vernon

There will be a post-race festival, including music, food, and beverage concessions. Each runner will receive a T-shirt, finisher medal and free beer. Awards will be presented in each category.

Give a Dog a Job 5K

10 Awesome Races, 5Ks, and Fun Runs to Do in Virginia in 2023

Photo courtesy of Old Dominion Chapter of Canine Companions

Date: Sept. 17

Location: Richmond

Fees: Free-$30

The Give a Dog a Job 5K allows you to run or walk with your furry friend in support of a worthy cause. The funds raised will help the Old Dominion Chapter of Canine Companions puppy raisers and service dog teams connect more highly trained service dogs with adults, children, and veterans. Costumes are encouraged for humans and dogs. There will be awards, door prizes, music, and vendors.

Port City Brewing Wunderfest 5K

Date: Sept. 23

Location: Alexandria

Fees: $45

The Port City Brewing Wunderfest 5K starts and ends in front of the brewery, snaking a course through the surrounding neighborhood. The 5K is followed by the Wunderfest party, a celebration of German beer that features family-friendly live music, beer, food, and yard games. A post-race pint comes with the fee. 

Run! Geek! Run! 5K

Date: Sept. 24

Location: Alexandria

Fees: $20-$30

Calling all geeks! The Run! Geek! Run! 5K is designed to benefit Move2Learn, a nonprofit that serves Alexandria City Public Schools, providing “simple yet revolutionary tools that inspire movement in the classroom and throughout the day to prime students’ brains for learning,” according to the website. Participants of all ages will meet Eugene, the ambassador of Run! Geek! Run! on the day of the race.

Run Richmond 16.19

10 Awesome Races, 5Ks, and Fun Runs to Do in Virginia in 2023

Photo courtesy of Djimon Hounsou Foundation

Date: Sept. 30

Location: Richmond

Fees: $40-$80

Run Richmond 16.19 is a unique cultural run that takes you on a meaningful journey through more than 400 years of Black history. “These events aim to symbolically reverse the direction of the slave trade, showcase how the past is connected to the present and future, and celebrate Unity in Diversity,” organizers said. The Richmond race is connected to races in Liverpool in the United Kingdom and Ouidah in the Republic of Benin, with each representing a leg of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The routes include stops through Rocket’s Landing and Ancarrow’s Landing, places where Africans first set foot on American soil. 

Unicorn Run 5K

10 Awesome Races, 5Ks, and Fun Runs to Do in Virginia in 2023

Photo courtesy of Virginia Cupcake Festival

Date: Oct. 8

Location: Virginia Beach

Fees: $35

The Unicorn Run 5K is a celebration of the magical creature, and runners are of course encouraged to dress in unicorn-inspired race attire. The run, which helps raise money for the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, is part of The Virginia Cupcake Festival. Participants will receive a race bib, finisher medal, T-shirt, and cupcake.


READ MORE: Savor the Flavor of Virginia’s Waters at These 6 Oyster Trail Restaurants

  • Aila Boyd

    Aila Boyd is a Virginia-based educator and journalist. She received her MFA in writing from Lindenwood University.

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