I take my pre-race routine pretty seriously. I get at least eight hours of sleep a couple of nights before the big race, make sure that I’m hydrating enough (yet not too much—I have learned the hard way that I am not a camel), and stay off my feet so that my legs feel fresh at the starting line.
Yet there I was at midnight, the night before the Rock ‘N’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, swaying to house music in heels while sipping my second margarita at some new club (LiFE at SLS, to be exact) that describes itself as “fostering a movement that rebels against the one-dimensional norm.”
I justified the actions in my head: at least a quarter of the people in this club are runners! (all competitors got entry wristbands). Maybe swaying stretches your legs out! The salt in this drink is giving me electrolytes! Though I feared the race gods would strike me at any moment.
RELATED: 7 Tips for Running Your First Race
And then I felt it: An inflatable neon glow stick bounced into the back of my head. A smoky mist blasted from the ceiling vents. Women in bird costumes (Spandex onesies with wings and creepy bird masks) danced on raised platforms. And everyone uniformly started waving those aforementioned inflatable glow sticks in the air. It was the most bizarre “pre-race” I’d ever experienced, but it was just the sort of thing you’d imagine would lead up to a night race in Las Vegas. Where else would I get an inflatable glow stick?! It was great.
Whether you take most races seriously, but hope to switch it up with a light-hearted, not-your-average run or you’re new to the 5K, 10K, or marathon world and want a unique introduction, a night race is definitely worth putting on your calendar.
RELATED: Yes, You Can Run a 10K!
Below are five of the best late-night runs out there—all are well-lit (no head lamps required). Just know, these are not the kind of races where PRs (personal records) are set. Enjoy them for the fun fitness experience—not logging your fastest time (mine was around 10 minutes off; apparently swaying doesn't loosen your legs up)—and you’ll leave with a good story, and maybe a few glow sticks.
Rock ‘N’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon, ½ Marathon, and 10k
When: November 12 – 15, 2015
Sin City is the place to go for a destination night race. Go to a club the night before your race like I did (because why not). Then on "race night" you’ll run up and back the neon-lined Strip, with multiple Elvis’ serenading you along the way. A pre-race concert will also get you pumped (last year it was Macklemore & Ryan Lewis).
Electric Run 5k
When: June 5, 2015 in Twin Cities, Minnesota; June 13, 2015 in Sacramento, California; August 8, 2015 in Chicago, as well more dates and locations posted on their site.
Would you like a side of 5K with your rave? You’ll cross the finish line and head straight to a dance party that is (surprise!) illuminated with neon lights and lasers. The race also encourages runners to dress in crazy-bright colors, and of course drip themselves in neon everything.
Firefly Run 5K and 10K
When: June 13, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia; July 25, 2015 in San Jose, California, as well more dates and locations posted on their site.
A charity race meets night run, Firefly is less “clubby” than the Electric Run, but not without its festiveness—it has a post-race after-party with live music, drinks, and of course, lasers. There’s also a costume contest with a prize involved, if you feel like really getting into it.
Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon
When: November 6 to November 7, 2015 at the Walt Disney Resort, Florida
*The race is sold out for general entry, but you can still register through charity groups or their travel providers…or do it next year!
This race has the wholesomeness of a Disney run (Micky and Minnie cheer you along the way), but it's in the dark, with post-race adult beverages. The half marathon kicks off at 10 p.m. (Disney gone wild) and takes you through Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and finishes in Epcot with an after party…which coincides with the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, where you’ll have entry. Sweet!
Neon Vibe 5K
When: June 27, Gran Rapids, Michigan; July 11, Albuquerque, New Mexico; July 18, Rockford, Illinois, as well more dates and locations posted on their site.
Part The Color Run and part night run, you’ll get doused in a non-toxic chalky powder that glows under black lights. You may even get splashed with “glow water” along the way. For the best color-effects, wear a white shirt that you plan on trashing (or donating?) after.
RELATED: 8 Gear Essentials for Summer Races