5 fun St. Louis holiday runs

It’s incredibly easy to fall behind in your workout routine this time of year. The combination of nasty weather and holiday treats can easily bog you down as you head into 2014.

But fortunately, there are dozens of holiday runs throughout the St. Louis area that are not only a great way to remain in shape but can also be a blast. Whether you’re partaking in the first Hungry Turkey 5K at Kiener Plaza Thanksgiving morning or dressing as Saint Nick for Santa’s North Pole Dash in St. Charles, you’ve got plenty of fun options.

Here are five of the best winter runs in St. Louis this holiday season:

Thursday, November 28: The Hungry Turkey 5K
There’s more than a half dozen runs around St. Louis to choose from before chowing down on some turkey on Thanksgiving Day. This one, which starts at 7:30 a.m. at Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis, is in its inaugural year and will benefit Operation Food Search. If you donate five canned goods at any Big River Running Company location you’ll receive $5 off the registration fee. Registration is $37 through November 25 and $42 after. http://www.thehungryturkey.com/general.html

Saturday, December 7: Santas on the Loose 5K Run
Get in the Christmas spirit in this run put on by the Webster Groves/Shrewsbury/Rock Hill Chamber of Commerce. Runners are encouraged to put on Santa hats and white beards. The Santas on the Loose 5K run starts at 8 a.m. at Gazebo Park (6 South Old Orchard, Webster Groves) and is followed by the kids Reindeer on the Loose 100-yard dash at 9 a.m. and stroller dash after that. Registration is $35 for Santas on the Loose and $15 for the Reindeer Dash. Registration closes November 29. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery. http://www.go-webster.com/SOL.htm

Saturday, December 14: Santa’s North Pole Dash
More than 5,000 runners (many decked out in Santa garb) are expected for this run through historic downtown St. Charles. The event, which starts at 9 a.m. near Frontier Park at Riverside (230 S. Main Street) includes a 5K run and 1-mile walk, a children’s run and is followed with plenty of holiday spirits on Main Street. It’s $35 to register with sign-ups ending December 2 or when all the spots are filled. Money raised will be used to support the Greater St. Charles County Chamber. http://www.gstccc.com/santadash

Sunday, December 15: Hot Chocolate 15/5K
Brought to you by RAM Racing, this run has been coined as America’s sweetest race since its inception in 2008. Both races start at 7:30 a.m. at Solidier’s Memorial (1315 Chestnut Street, St. Louis). The fun really starts at the finish line where runners enjoy a post-race party of music, a family friendly kid zone with bounce houses and games and a finisher’s mug filled with hot chocolate, chocolate fondue and other tasty treats. Registration for the 5K  is $45 through November 17 and $50 after and $69 for the 15K through the 17th and $72 after. http://www.hotchocolate15k.com/stlouis/

Saturday, December 21: Ugly Sweater Run
This is one of the most popular winter runs throughout the country. Starting  at 11 a.m. at Forest Park (5595 Grand Dr., St. Louis), many runners put on the ugliest Christmas sweater and mustache (real or fake) for the 5K. At the finish line they’re rewarded with a hot chocolate and two Sam Adams beer choices. Awards are given out for the best real mustache, best fake mustache, best beard, worst sweater and best sweater. Participants are asked to bring a new toy to donate to the local Toys For Tots chapter. Early registration is $39 for solo runners, $44 starting December 7 and $50 the day of the race (if available). Four-person ugly sweater teams can register early for $34, $39 starting December 7 and $45 the day of the race. http://theuglysweaterrun.com/locations/st-louis-missouri/

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