Some runners like to keep their races simple: a starting line, a finish line and nothin’ but running in between. That’s cool. I can appreciate that kind of straightforwardness.

But I also appreciate mud, kilts, eye patches, inflatable obstacles, and beer (but of course)!

For you runners out there who also to like to mix in a little something extra into an otherwise uncomplicated run, I give you this roundup of fun runs, mud runs, costumed runs, and obstacle races. I’m not saying they’re easy races (I’d still gasp and pant my way through all of them) but we can at least distract ourselves from the gasping and panting with mermaid outfits, wet dirt, and the promise of whoopie pies at the finish.

Hidden Valley Nature Center photo


April 15. Hidden Valley Nature Center, Jefferson. $25 adults, $30 families, $5 youth and students
It’s a combination of trail running and air rifle target shooting (don’t worry, you’ll get safety training on the rifles before the race). The trail loop is approximately three-quarters of a mile; racers will alternate shooting and running. Be prepared for muddy, sloppy trails—but that’s part of the fun! Teams are an option and creative costumes are encouraged – the best ones will receive awards at the post-race ceremony. After the race, there will be vegetarian chili, hot chocolate and cider. Midcoast Conservancy will have its fat tire bike fleet at the Nature Center as well, for anyone who would like to take one for a spin on the trails.

Thomas College Dirty Dog Mud Run

April 15. Thomas College, Waterville. $45, $5 “Mud Puppy Run”
This 5K features 12-15 obstacles (like mud, cargo nets, mud, tire pulls) and multiple mud pits. Also: wall climbs, bucket carries, and hills. Costumes encouraged. It’s a family friendly day, and there will be a mini obstacle course open to children up to age 10. New this year: the open to compete in the lap race, which runs from 8:45 a.m. to noon. How many laps can you squeeze in?

Greater Androscoggin Humane Society photo

Dash for Dogs 5K

April 29. Greater Androscoggin Humane Society, Lewiston. $25
Bring your four-legged friend to run or walk the Dash for Dogs 5K, which benefits the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society. The 5K course starts follows the scenic paved Greenway Trail along the river. Awards after!

Mutt Strut 5K graphic

Mutt Strut 5K

May 26. Kennebec River Rail Trail, Augusta. $25 run/walk, $30 run/walk with dog! ($30, $35 with dog day of)
You know who loves to run and walk? Your dog! Bring your four-legged-BFF to the Mutt Strut 5K. All funds raised go directly to support more than 2,000 animals that find their way to the Kennebec Valley Humane Society annually, and all dog registrations will include a Mutt Strut collar bandana for your dog. All dogs are welcome. The race will also include a pre-race warm-up and a variety of services by local vendors before and after the race.

Trail Running Festival photo

Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival

May 26-27. Pineland Farms, New Gloucester.
There will be trail running galore all weekend (1km Kids’ race, 5km Canicross (dog+runner), 5k Trail Race, and 10km on Saturday and 25km, 50km, and 50-mile races on Sunday). But it’s also very much about the trail running camaraderie and celebration. The festival includes plenty of beer drinking, BBQ (veggie friendly), pot-luck dishes, desserts, eclectic music performances, and fun family activities.

Shannon Bryan photo

Color Vibe 5k

TBD 2018
This is a family-friendly 5K with a focus on gettin’ colorful and having a good time, much like The Color Run. At every kilometer you’ll be doused with blue, sprinkled with green, splashed with yellow, sprayed with orange. There’s often a color dance party after, too. There’s no set date or location yet, but it appears there WILL be a Maine location, so check the website for more info.

Dynamic Dirt Challenge graphic

Dynamic Dirt Challenge & Family Fest

June 2. Pineland Farms, New Gloucester. $60-$70 (Dynamic Dirt Challenge), $25-$50 (Family Fest)
This 4+ mile obstacle course will certainly challenge you. It’s split into three categories – one for competitive racers, one for casual participants who are equally focused on coming up with cool team theme costumes and the finish line (but really it’s mostly about the costumes), and a family category, which competes on a shorter course. After the obstacle course, you will be rewarded at the finish line with food trucks, beer and great music.

Shannon Bryan photo

Twilight 5K

June 7. Southern Maine Community College, South Portland. $25 walkers, $35 runners, plus a $100 fundraising minimum.
Enjoy a sunset race course with Casco Bay Views in South Portland. There’s a 1.2-mile course for walkers and a 5K course for runners. The Twilight 5K finishes with live music provided by Tickle, awards, a pizza party, and beer tent provided by Shipyard Brewing Company.

Sailors and Sirens 5K. Shannon Bryan photo

Sailors and Sirens 5K

June 16. Start and End at Pilot House and Boatyard in Kennebunk. $25
Dress up like a sailor, pirate or mermaid (hopefully with a tail designed for mobility) for this inaugural 5K in Kennebunk. The race starts and ends on the grounds of the Pilot House and Boatyard in Kennebunk. Wind though the back of the Franciscan Monastery and down Beach Avenue to the waterfront and run in the sand toward character photo stops. (Don’t you love it when races build-in photo opp stops? I do.) There will also be a 1K kids run loop on the grounds of the Pilot House Boatyard.

Rainbow Run 5K graphic

Rainbow Run 5K

June 17. 16 Margin St., Orono.
It’s the first-ever Rainbow Run 5K to benefit Health Equity Alliance. Sponsored by Orono Brewing Company, participants will follow the designated route to receive a cold beverage at the end of the race at OBC’s newest location, 61 Margin Street, Orono! This event kicks off Pride in the Bangor area, and everyone receives a race t-shirt.

Wicked Muddy Mainer photo

Wicked Muddy Mainer

July 7. Thornton Family Campground, Orrington. $75
Imagine a monstrous course boasting 20 obstacles spanning over 120 acres of “mud-soaked trudging hell.” Sounds fun, right? Sure, you’ll be challenged along the way, but this mud-covered obstacle race is still very much about having a good time. Racers are released in waves starting at 8 a.m.

By F_A from Ostwestfalen, Germany – Whoopies, CC BY 2.0, Link

5K Run by the Lake

July 11. Harrison Town Office, Harrison. $15 in advance, $20 day of. Discounts for Harrison residents.
Here’s what you need to know: Whoopie pies at the finish line!

Dance Mile photo

Dance Mile

July 14. Downtown Portland. $19 early-bird, $12 kids (prices increase as the event gets closer).
No actual running during the Dance Mile, but I’m including it here anyhow. Dance your way along the one-mile course. Zumba warm-up, bedazzling station, and post-dance party! photo photo

Kilted Kanter

July 21 (I think. The Celtic Festival is July 20-22 and the race is usually on Saturday, but the date hasn’t officially been posted yet). Belfast Waterfront.
5K run begins at Belfast Area High School and covers a relatively flat course through the lovely, picturesque and proudly historic neighborhoods of Belfast. Wearing of a kilt is optional (but why wouldn’t you?)
Also: Sprint after a wheel of cheese during the New World Cheese Roll Championship on Sunday, also part of the Maine Celtic Celebration.

Tough Mountain Challenge

July 28. Sunday River, Newry. $99
The Tough Mountain Challenge is “an adventure obstacle race that tackles alpine terrain and throws in natural and man-made challenges to mix things up.” Because why not add an actual mountain to your obstacle race, right? Registration includes “a free beer you can have before your heat, after your heat, or even during your heat at our mid-course beer station.” The event usually sells out, so get on it.

Craft Brew Races graphic
Craft Brew Races graphic

Craft Brew Races

August 18. Payson Park, Portland. $5o early bird, $40 festival only, $15 designated driver. Prices go up as the event gets closer.
Gotta love these words: “relaxed 5K.” Walkers welcome at the Craft Brew Races, which will take participants on a course around Back Cove. More importantly, the race is followed by a beer festival in Payson Park, with upwards of 40 craft breweries present. Beer fest-only tickets are also available.

Trail to Ale 10K Race/Walk

September 16. Starts on the Eastern Prom, Portland. $35.
It’s fall tradition! The course starts on Portland’s Eastern Prom and loops around Back Cove. The run is scenic, you can run or walk it, and proceeds support Portland Trails. All good things. Also good: the finish-line beer, pizza, yoga, massages, healthy snacks, and DJ’d dance party.