As home to the New York City Marathon, you probably know there’s a race (or two or three) going on just about every weekend here. But did you realize that some of them are kid friendly? If you love running races, signing up for a fun run with your kids is a great way to introduce them to the sport. While you won’t have the same heart-pumping, calorie-burning experience you would have if you were running on your no matter the time, raising money for a family-friendly cause, instilling healthy habits and making memories that will last much longer than a runner’s high. Even if you reserve running for catching your toddler or taxis exclusively, not to worry, you can still lace up as a team and hit the ground walking.

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City Parks Foundation Run for the Parks
This annual 4-miler is one of the largest single day running events in Central Park and the proceeds help the City Parks Foundation do what they do best – put on free sports and fitness programs for kids in parks citywide including tennis, golf and track and field. You don’t have to run together in this race. You can race at 8:00 am and the kids can hit the pavement at 9:00 am. Online registration ends April 16, but you can also register in person.

Date: April 21, 2013, 8:00 am – adults, 9:00 am – kids
Location: Central Park
Cost: $40 for adults, $6 in advance or $8 on race for kids

CostumeCon 5K
As you may have guessed from the name, you won’t be running this race in the typical shorts, tee and sneakers. The inaugural ConstumeCon 5K will award $5,000 in cash prizes for the best Kid’s Costume, Best Group Costume (get the whole family involved!), Most Creative Costume, Sexiest Costume (you may want to give that one a miss!) and All Around Best Costume. So get those creative juices flowing to come up with a costume you can run or walk Prospect Park’s 5K loop in. How do you make sure you’re cool getup is seen? You’ll pop into a photo booth to enter. This race is sure to be filled with lots of laughs – if your kids aren’t giggling about their own outfit, they’ll be guffawing at others. Registration is open now for the costumed 5K along with a 15K race for adults and a totally doable, $10 2K jaunt for kids.

Date: April 21, 2013
Location: Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Cost: $40 for adults, $20 for kids

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The Color Run
This 3-mile, un-timed race is unlike any you’ve run before. You start wearing a white shirt and by the time you cross the finish line you’ll be covered in an array of colors! Run individually or turn your family into a team of 4. At each kilometer you’ll be doused head to toe in a rainbow of hues and it all ends with a gigantic “Color Festival.” This year’s race helps benefit the Children’s Cancer & Blood Foundation. While the July races are already sold out, new spots might be added later and you can plan ahead and register for the September races now.

Date: July 6 & 7, 2013; September 7 & 8, 2013, 9:00 am
Location: Aviator Sports, Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Cost: $55 for an individual, $50/person for a team of 4

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Run for the Wild Family Fun Run/Walk
What could make 5K go faster than zip-zagging through the Bronx Zoo past the exhibits and animals? The Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Run for the Wild is in its fifth year, and this year the race is raising money to save elephants. WCS requires adult participants to raise at least $30 in funds beyond the registation fee. For that, you’ll get complimentary Bronx Zoo admission for the day, a tee shirt and other prizes depending on how much money you collect. We know your kid would think the Horton Hears a Who pop up book or a private monorail ride would be pretty awesome! Also fun – the pre-race face painting and post-race music, sea lion feeding and time spent perusing the zoo. Strollers are permitted during the Family Fun Run/Walk. Registration often fills up fast, so if you want a spot, don’t delay.

Date: April 27, 2013, 8:45 am
Location: Bronx Zoo
Cost: $35 for adults, $25 for children ages 3-15, $25 for seniors 65+, or fundraise for free entrance

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Japan Run
If you sign up for the 7th annual Japan Run, you’re in for so much more than a 4 mile run/walk in Central Park. The Japan Day celebration is on, so from music to food to dancing, you’ll find lots of post-race activities and entertainment that just so happen to provide an understanding and appreciation of Japanese culture as well. Again, this race separates the little runners from the big, starting the adults an hour and a half before the kids leave the starting blocks. Don’t forget, May 12th is also Mother’s Day, so do a little celebrating for yourself.

Date: May 12, 2013, 8:00 am – adults, 9:30 am – kids
Location: Central Park
Cost: $40 for adults, $6 in advance or $8 on race for kids

The Survival Race
In an era where Tough Mudders and dirt-filled, hill-climbing, military-crawling style races are all the rage, it’s no surprise there’s a rugged race geared toward families, too. They call themselves “The Original Family-Style 5K Obstacle Course & Mud Run.” Designed for ages 9 and up, prepare yourself and your kids for a tough 5K race with running, jumping, climbing, crawling and sweating, hopefully all without tears.

Date: May 4, 2013 and September 7, 2013
Location: Riverhead, Long Island
Cost: $89

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Percy Sutton Harlem 5K Run/NYC Family Health Walk-a-Thon for Peace in Our Communities
History meets health in this cause-filled run/walk. The course takes you through Historic Harlem and the goal of the race is to combat gun violence, domestic violence and bullying while encourage citywide unity and peace. Look for registration to open later this spring.

Date: August 24, 2013, 8:30 am – run/ 10:00 am – walk
Location: 135th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue

What was the last race you ran with your kids?

–Julie Seguss

Images courtesy of City Parks Foundation, Japan Day, Julie Larsen Maher © Wildlife Conservation Society, NYRR