Photo: Matt Stephens
Photo: Matt Stephens

Six Atlanta area fun runs to get you into the holiday spirit

Whether you're running for bling or just trying to keep the holiday calories in check this season, there's a road race with your name on it in Atlanta.

Run among holiday lights, jingle your bells through a historic Georgia town, become a Claus with a cause for underserved children or simply kick off a brand new year with a shiny, new personal record.

Here are six fun runs and races with real holiday spirit.

Run the Lights of Life 1K/5K | 1K 4:30 p.m., 5K 5 p.m. Dec. 3 and Dec. 4
$20 1K, $35 5K
Life University, 1269 Barclay Circle, Marietta

If you've always wanted to run a race through the glow of holiday lights, you'll have not one but two chances this year. Starting at sunset, run or walk through the beautiful campus of Life University and its annual light show. Dress in costume to win prizes. More importantly? Bring an unwrapped toy to be donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cobb County. Your good deed earns you $5 back on your registration on the spot. When you're finished running like the wind, stay and enjoy the lights in slower motion while refueling with a cup of hot cocoa.

Sleighbells on the Square 5K | 8:30 a.m. Dec. 10
Marietta Square, 10 E. Park Square, Marietta (search for Sleighbells on the Square)

This Peachtree Road Race qualifier has you running through historic downtown Marietta with jingle bells on your racing shoes. Join fellow runners as you help raise money for The Children's Emergency Fund, which assists students and families in Cobb County and Marietta Schools. Costumes to pair with your jingling bells encouraged.

The Santa Fun Run 5K | 8 a.m. Dec. 10
Newtown Park, 3150 Old Alabama Road, Johns Creek html

Picture it. 500 runners dressed in Santa suits running to raise funds for disadvantaged and special-needs children. This could be you and 499 of your fellow running friends. The Variety Santa Fun Run is an international race bringing thousands of runners and walkers together to raise awareness and money for health and educational programs for underserved children in Georgia and around the world. Be a "Claus for a cause." Awards for age groups. All participants receive Santa jacket and hat to wear during the race.

Atlanta Christmas 5K | 8 a.m. Dec. 17
YWCA, 957 N. Highland Ave. NE, Atlanta

Another Peachtree Road Race qualifier that involves Christmas and free Santa hats. Earn that coveted PRR corral spot at this fast 5K race that takes you through the lovely Virginia-Highland and Morningside neighborhoods. Merrymakers receive holiday-themed shirts, a visit with Santa Claus for pre- and post-run wish-rendering, hot chocolate and cider at the finish, age group awards and gift card drawings for local stores and restaurants. Registration open to the first 1,500 registrants. Don't miss your chance to run with the jolly old elf himself. Kid, stroller and dog-friendly.

A Christmas 5K - Ralphie's Run | 8 a.m. Dec. 24
Early bird 5K registration: $19.95; Dec. 15- Dec. 23: $25; Day of race: $30; Fun run: $18

Little Mulberry Park, 3855 Fence Road Dacula

This Gwinnett 5K takes place on the paved paths of Little Mulberry Park and benefits North Gwinnett Church Missions Ministry. Trophies are handed out to the top overall male and female winners as well as masters male and masters female winners. 

Resolution Run | 10 a.m. Jan. 1
4 Miler: $25, 1 Miler: $10, 50m dash: $5
Brookhaven-Oglethorpe MARTA Station, 4047 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, Ga. 30319

You partied until the ball dropped on New Year's Eve, now wake up and run off the booze with the Atlanta Track Club on New Year's Day. ATC kicks off the new year with its annual Resolution Run with a quick and dirty 1-miler or a bit of distance in the 4-miler to give you time to think about your 2016 resolutions. Start the new year right by getting your legs moving, your heart pumping and a jump start on your fitness goals over all those other resolution-makers who are still in bed. Awards for age groups. First event in the 2016 ATC Grand Prix series.

Not seeing a race that suits your fancy? Check out this handy running calendar and choose your distance

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