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Jingle all the way to the finish of these holiday-themed races

Santa Monica Venice Christmas Run
Santa Monica Venice Christmas Run (Photo:


From now until the New Year, virtually every U.S. city is tasked with hosting a Santa Claus in the department store and a holiday-themed run.

This fun and festive race season is perfect for runners of all stripes—many are walk/run 2- or 3-milers and none exceeds a 13.1-mile half. While running in an elf hat or Santa suit is totally optional, it is encouraged. (Hey, so long as you don’t expect it to wick, why not rock one?)

We’ve rounded up a handful of the country’s fun runs that have serious holiday spirit and enough costuming and excitement to make your cheer squad forget it’s cold out! —Sarah Sarway


Winter Wonderland of Lights Walk/Run 
Saturday, November 30
Distance: 2, 4, or 6 miles
Registration deadline: Ongoing
Why you should run: This run at the Raceway has been dubbed “the largest holiday light show west of the Mississippi.” (Because the East usually dominates with light shows?!) That said, the course has over 250 holiday light displays and animated scenes that will make your 6-mile run feel like a breeze.


Jingle Bell Jog 
Saturday, December 7
Distance: 4 miles
Registration deadline: December 5
Why you should run: This Brooklyn race is a great one for new runners to add a marathon qualifier under their belt. (Not to mention the registration perks, like jingle bells you can add on your sneakers as you ho-ho-ho to the finish line!)


Jingle All the Way 
Sunday, December 8
Distance: 8K
Registration deadline: Ongoing, but spots sell out quickly
Why you should run: Race down Pennsylvania Avenue (instead of sitting in traffic on it) and experience the nation’s capital by foot. And this run has spirit—think runners in reindeer antlers and Mrs. Clause costumes.

Jingle All The Way, Washington, D.C.
Jingle All The Way, Washington, D.C.


Holiday Half MerryThon 
Sunday, December 8
Distances: 2.62 and 13.1 miles
Registration deadline: Ongoing, but it’s already 85 percent full
Why you should run: Okay, get your head around this Gloucester event—you can run (or walk) the 2.62 MerryThon. (Get it? Get it? Merry-thon!). And if you’ve been dedicated to your training, after you’ve finished, you can swing back to the start line to complete a 13.1-mile Half along Cape Ann.


Jingle Bell Run/Walk 
Saturday, December 14
Distance: Santa Chase, 5K, 10K
Registration deadline: December 12
Why you should run: The three Lake Shore Drive runs raise money for arthritis. Little elves can run the Santa Chase (super cute!) while Mr. and Mrs. Clauses (some in teams) don wind-breakers and jingle bells for the 5 or 10k.


Elf Classic Running Festival  
Saturday, December 14
Distance: 5K, 10K, or Distance Dash 15K
Registration deadline: December 12
Why you should run: This Moss Park race has three distances for every type of runner. Plus, the popular event always attracts a jolly crowd—who then go to Disney, if they’re not locals. Also Santa Claus is onsite for finish line family photos.


12k of Christmas
Saturday December 21
Distance: 12K
Registration deadline: Ongoing
Why you should run: Running this almost-half gets you extra eggnog this holiday season. Plan to dress up for the Holiday Costume Contest immediately following the race.

Runners dressed in Santa Gear


Rockin’ with Santa 
Sunday, December 22
Distance: 5K, 10K, Half marathon
Registration deadline: December 20
Why you should run: There’s a distance for every runner no matter what level you’re on, but we know you’re tough enough for the 10k. (Or half!)


Holiday Fun Run 
Saturday, December 21
Distance: Kids dash, 5K, 10K, 2 person 10K relay
Registration deadline: Ongoing
Why you should run: Maybe use a candy cane in place of a relay baton? No munching until the finish line!


Rockin’ Reindeer Run
Saturday, December 7
Distance: 5K, 10K
Registration deadline: ongoing
Why you should run: In true Vegas fashion, this race is quite the festive show. Runners dress up in antlers, Santa Claus bellies, and even gift-wrap themselves. (Wonder how that works with the sweat?) Plus with an 11:00 a.m. kick-off time, this is great for the runner who loves to party. Finishers get a drink ticket. Not kidding.


Santa Monica Venice Christmas Run 
Saturday, December 7
Distance: 5K, 10K
Registration deadline: Ongoing
Why you should run: This will be the 36th run, so you can bet the participants have their sweat-wicking costumes down pat. The race starts off in Santa Monica and ends off in Venice Beach, with scenic views all along the way.