The best family-friendly runs in Chicago this summer

A combination of breeze and heat present the perfect opportunity to take up your kid’s favorite pastime: running!

I must admit, I am no runner. However, I absolutely love seeing the joy in my 7-year old’s face as he is sprinting just as a true athlete would, with determination and inner strength. I can never dismiss his excited “Can we race?” faces. I love taking on the challenge even if I’m huffing and puffing at the end.

I am happy to share that if you too have caught the running bug from your children, there are numerous options for runs and races to choose from.

Prior to the big day, remember to do a few friendly runs around the block and stay hydrated.

Always check on the event’s website for details or call if you have further questions.

‘Go Runs

The Chicago Park District and Chicago Area Runners Association have paired up to provide weekly timed runs in three Chicago Parks from May 21-July 9. By signing up for the 8-week program you’ll have the opportunity to run, walk, jog or race through a different park every time.

Why it’s a must: These free 1 mile and 5K runs have the potential to become your family’s new seasonal tradition by providing just the right dose of fitness and fun. Strollers are welcome.

Humboldt Park, Warren Park, Washington Park

Saturdays, May 21-Jul. 9, 9 a.m.

Cost: Free

United Run for the Zoo

Running wild takes on a whole new meaning with this event that allows families to choose from a 10K run through Diversey Harbor and the zoo’s Nature Boardwalk, or the 5K run/walk through the zoo grounds.

Why it’s a must: This safe run in a friendly and known venue puts a twist on your regular visit to the zoo with the kids. Plus, children 8 and under will love the mini obstacle course, Safari Stampede, which is the perfect chance to let out their inner animal!

Lincoln Park Zoo – Fullerton Ave. & Cannon Dr.

Sun., Jun. 5; 7:45 a.m.; Safari Stampede at 10 a.m.

Cost: $15-$30 for the Safari Stampede, $34-$54 for the 5K run/walk, $39-$59 for the 10K run

Superhero Dash & Splash

Dress in your favorite superhero costume and take on this family 5k run that goes through Lion’s Memorial Park. Don’t forget your swimsuit underneath! P.S. If you register a group of three or more people, you will receive $5 off per person.

Why it’s a must: Where else do you get to complete a race by splashing into a Big Surf wave pool?

411 S Maple Mount Prospect, IL

Sat., June 18; various times

Cost: $25 adults, $10 kids

Ricky Birdsong Memorial Race Against Hate

YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s Race Against Hate hosts 5K and 10K runs and two fun youth runs/walks. The event features refreshments, music and fun for the whole family.

Why it’s a must: It’s a great way for children to get a glimpse of what it means to run for a cause, as the participation and proceedings help raise awareness and funds for YWCA’s racial justice and violence prevention programs.

Long Field at the corner of Sheridan Road and Lincoln Street in Evanston, IL

Sun., June 19; 7:30 a.m.

Cost: $39 adults; $12 children 12 and under for Youth Mile

Chicago Chinatown 5K Youth Run

This Year of the Monkey 5K takes place across the heart of Chinatown. It features a 200 meter Youth Run for kids 6-8 and a quarter mile for kids 9 through 11. All who finish will be automatically entered into a raffle.

Why it’s a must: It’s great for a child’s first race, plus the location and lion dance opening make this not only run but also a cultural event!

Chinatown Square – 2130 S. Archer

Sat., Jul. 9; 8 a.m.

Cost:$38-$58 for 5K, $15-$25 for Youth Run

RUN! To End Homelessness

This 5K benefiting A Safe Haven social service agency is the largest in the nation dedicated to ending homelessness. It features a free Kids Fun Run followed by a musical performance.

Why it’s a must: Participation helps support numerous housing, job placement/training and other programs for the homeless and less fortunate, thus serving as a way to teach children about compassion, kindness, community and how our actions can make a difference.

Douglas Park – 2800 W. Roosevelt St.

Sun., Jul. 10; 8:30 a.m.

Cost: $30-$50 for 5K run/walk, free kids dash

Color Fun Fest 5K

As you dash through this 1.8 mile course supporting the Just Care More Foundation, 10,000 pounds of color will rain down on your family, turning you all into running works of art. Kids 12 and under run for free and you can choose to run the course as many times as you’d like.

Complete with jugglers, clowns, face painters, carnival games and live music, this run/festival will likely be the most unforgettable of your summer.

Why it’s a must: This is a wonderfully entertaining course for 5k newbies. Plus, costumes are encouraged. Wearing a costume while playing in the featured inflatable village? Sounds like the ultimate fun experience to me!

Soldier Field – 1410 Museum Campus Dr.

Sat., Aug. 13, morning and evening run times available

Cost: $39.99-$60 for adults, free for kids 12 and under

Life Time Kids Tri Chicago

Children will be kicking off Transamerica Chicago Triathlon weekend as they swim, bike and run like the grownups. The bike and run take place on closed park roadways and running paths along the lakefront, while the swim takes on Chicago’s Foster Beach.

Why it’s a must: It’s perfect for that mini blooming athlete of yours. If they have been excitedly going to their sporting lessons, practicing and enjoying themselves, this is the next big step. A boost of confidence, sense of achievement and fun guaranteed!

Foster Avenue Beach – Foster Avenue & Lake Shore Dr.

Saturday, Aug. 27; 8:30 a.m.

Cost: $50 per child

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