Local races to keep the family festive and active this holiday season

WASHINGTON – The holidays are often synonymous with an abundance of food and cocktails, as parties and family gatherings kick into high gear.

But there are plenty of festive walks and runs in the D.C. area that will help keep you in the spirit — and keep you active — during the holiday season.

Lisa Reichmann and Julie Sapper, two Maryland-based running coaches of Run Farther and Faster, offer a glimpse at some of the area’s best holiday runs the whole family will enjoy.

This time of year, it’s time to put your serious running gear away and bust-out your Santa hats and elf stockings. Getting closer to the winter holidays, the area’s so-called “jingle bell” runs descend upon Washington.

One of the biggest races in the Washington area is the Jingle All the Way 8K, which starts on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, between 12th and 13th Streets, NW.

“It’s a lot of fun to do that one because although it attracts a lot of serious runners, it also attracts a lot of runners who are more (serious) about their costumes,” says Sapper, who explains that runners come to the race decked in red-and-white- striped socks, bells and other “Santa garb.”

Other area jingle bell races include the Jingle Bell Jog in Rockville, Md., the Jingle Bell run/walk in Arlington, Va., the Snowman Stampede in Centerville, Va., the Run With Santa race in Reston, Va., and the Jolly Fat Man run in Bethesda, Md.

For those who don’t mind a bit of traveling, Reichmann and Sapper recommend the Surf n’ Santa 10 mile race in Virginia Beach, Va. — a run the two describe as a nonstop party.

And the holiday runs don’t end after Christmas Day — some local runners choose to ring in the new year with a race.

The Fairfax Four Miler is a family-friendly event that takes place at the City of Fairfax Old Town Hall.

“It attracts all kinds of runners and families and it’s during New Year’s Eve, so it’s a great activity to do if you want to have a low-key New Years, but you want to get out,” Sapper says.

Ashburn, Va.’s Ringing in Hope run also takes place on New Year’s Eve, but begins in the early afternoon, for those who have evening plans.

“Those are great ways to kick-off your New Year’s resolutions,” Reichmann says.

Lisa Reichmann and Julie Sapper, regionally ranked runners and co-founders of Run Farther & Faster, provide personalized group and individual coaching to runners of all levels in the D.C. area and beyond. Check out more of their tips on Facebook and Twitter @Runfartherfast.

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