Different Types & Lengths of Races

I am going to make Wednesdays “Walking Wednesday.” Each Wednesday I will blog about something as it pertains to walking (and could possibly translate into running). Today we are talking about the different types and lengths of races.

Walking Wednesday

Different Types of Races

Road Race – Road races, probably the most well-known and popular, are typically done on a road or on a greenway. Road races are common for 5Ks, marathons, etc. This is where you might beat your PR or qualify for other events (like Boston, New York, etc.).

Trail Race – Trail races are done on trails or even off the trails. They might go through ponds, mud, over trees, etc. Expect to be slower on a 5K trail race than you are on a 5K road race. It is good to have some old(er) shoes that you designate as trail shoes just for this purpose.

Charity Event – While still road races (or trail races), many of the larger charity events are so huge that you need to make sure you are enjoying the race and not worried about your time. Many of these events (being in the back with the walkers), it has taken me 10 minutes or so just to get to the start line. Dressing up is typically accepted here and you will often see tutus floating around.

Theme Races – Think Color Me Rad, The Color Run, Glow Run, Foam 5K, etc. More and more companies are putting on “events” throughout the country. Typically these don’t actually hit the distance they say. We did one 5K color race that was 2.6 miles. Again, the point here is having fun, not typically setting a PR.

Different Lengths of Races

The four most common lengths are:

  • 5K – 3.1 miles
  • 10K – 6.2 miles
  • Half-Marathon – 13.1 miles
  • Marathon – 26.2 miles

Some races, like Knoxville’s Covenant Marathon, offer a marathon, half-marathon, or 5K option on the same day. Disney will offer race weekends where you can do up to 4 different lengths and get even more medals. If you did all four of the lengths, you would get seven medals (WOOHOO!!!).

You will also see many other different race lengths. 10 miles is popular. 4 miles. 5 miles. The lengths are really all over the board. This really holds true with trail races. Hubby has done them from 4 miles up to a half-marathon distance. And many of them go even longer than that.


Just starting out? My suggestion is to find a 5K road race in your area. Fall is the perfect time to start walking or running as the weather is just right. Not sure where to start with training? Don’t forget my new Walk Your Way to a 5K program. Special pricing went into effect TODAY through Sunday so be sure to check it out.

Cheers! Happy walking or running!


7 Responses to “Different Types & Lengths of Races”

  1. I often get the comment “How was your marathon?” when in fact, I only run 5 km or 10 km races. I post this to facebook in hopes that my family and friends read this and understand races better! Great post idea!