What better way to celebrate April than a handful of fun races to get the spring and summer into full swing. We take a peak at three area races giving new meaning to the term "run free" this month, plus provide some other offbeat options for those willing to travel a little further for their fun.
Out Run the Police, Chattanooga
April 7, 7:30 a.m.
10k, 5k, 1k Fuzz Run
We've all seen it on reality TV and we all know how it ends. Some guy tries to get away from a fleet of squad cars and usually winds up in a nearby ditch being used as a chew toy by a K9 unit.
But for this event in downtown Chattanooga, things could turn out differently.
"The idea is this is one time you can run from the cops and get away with it," says race organizer Ken Radley.
Police officers (some possibly in uniform) will run with the racers in the 10k and 5k. They're not allowed to use the Segway-like scooters.
The race is a fundraiser for continuing education programs at the Chattanooga Police Department and the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.
When officials from the agencies contacted Radley about the event, he says he was sold on the name immediately.
"They came up with two names and after they said (Out Run the Police) the second idea didn't even matter," he says.
Radley says he's still working out ways Chattanooga's fastest finest will be incorporated into the event.
"They're cool with making a little fun of themselves," he says. "They'll be involved in a bunch of different aspects"
Late in the planning stages, Radley was trying to get a sponsor that would fit his audience. Mainly, he was calling donut shops.
For more information visit www.sceniccitymultisport.com
Notes: No white Broncos allowed. Race begins in Renaissance Park.
Peoplechase, Kingston, GA
April 14 10 a.m.
Ever run a race on a real steeplechase horse track? The answer is probably "neigh."
The inaugural Peoplechase, held at the Kingston Downs race track near Rome, Ga., gives runners a crack at the grass oval and obstacles their equine counterparts will navigate a few hours later.
"We weren't really interested in doing just another 5k because they're every weekend," explains Beau Bearden, the race organizer and part owner of Zone 5 Events. "You can go out and do a road 5k any day of the week."
But you can't run one like this.
The human race will include the same jumps and fences the horses have to clear. While these are manageable for jockeys on top of their steeds, they are "pretty big obstacles" for humans on foot, Bearden says.
Runners have the option of going around the jumps, but since the event is not timed why not give it a try? "It's just purely for fun," Bearden says.
Runners who opt for the $75 all-inclusive package will get a parking pass, catered lunch and access to the horse race and private runner's party tent.
For more information visit www.zone5events.com
Note: Registration closes April 6. A About 90 minutes from Chattanooga.
Fig Leaf 5k, Dawsonville, GA
April 21, 10 a.m.
It has all the makings of any other jog across the rolling hills of North Georgia.
Except for the clothes.
Barefoot running meets "We Bare All" later this month at the Fig Leaf 5k, hosted by the Paradise Valley Nudist Resort in Dawsonville, Ga., about two hours from Chattanooga.
"Lots of people love to come out and spend the day with us. It is a very unique race," says race director Janet, who prefers to not use her last name because her employer may frown on her nudist tendencies. "We get lots of repeat runners who come back year after year and we also get a lot of new faces every year and that gives us a chance to show folks what we're all about."
With more flip-flopping than a truckload of Tevas, the Fig Leaf 5k gives participants a chance to switch out their tracksuits for birthday suits. Janet says 90 percent of the more than 150 participants choose to run au naturale and only a quarter of the racers are regular members of Paradise Valley.
The clothing-optional run in its 16th year is a fundraiser for the Dawson County Humane Society and annually raises more than $2,000. Ironically, t-shirts will be given out to pre-registered runners.
Each year, Janet says, the race helps Paradise Valley expose all the benefits of the club's offerings to new people, leading to a few new memberships following each event. She says most people are a little skittish at first, but after the first few minutes they begin to hit their stride with the idea of baring all, often commenting on the friendly race staff and welcoming atmosphere.
"Nuderecreation allows individuals and families to start living and experiencing the most natural way possible," the club's website states. "To relax and be nude is to experience life to the fullest."
If you can't make it to the race, the club also offers tennis, volleyball, horseshoe pits and hiking trails.
In years past, plenty of male and female Fig Leafers race sans shorts but most still wear their socks and shoes. "Nudists are realistic," the website states. "There are times when clothing is appropriate or necessary."
Blane Bachelor, a San Francisco based freelance writer, ran the Fig Leaf in 2008 for an article in Women's Health. In a phone interview, she says about a quarter of the racers ran clothed which she sees as borderline bad sportsmanship.
"If you're going to run the race, do it all or nothing," she says. "Anybody can run a 5k clothed."
She complained of some discomfort from the "flop factor" and said the experience made her really appreciate sports bras. "Things certainly bounce around that don't bounce around when you're clothed," she warns.
But since it's only a 5k, she says, it's over quickly.
"You're not going to have significant chafing after 20 or 25 minutes," she says.
For more information visit www.paradisevalleyclub.com/events
Note: Sunscreen is encouraged. No cameras allowed. Registration deadline is April 19.
OTHER UNUSUAL RUNNING EVENTS:
April 1 ' The Skivvy Scoot ' Kingsport, TN ' www.werunevents.com
Only slightly more modest than the Fig Leaf, this new race aims to raise awareness of colon cancer and invites participants to run in their undies.
May 12 ' The Atlanta Dog Jog ' Atlanta, GA ' www.running4fitness.com
The name of this run, put on by the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association, pretty much speaks - or barks - for itself. It features 1 and 2-mile courses for runners and Rovers with different classes based on the size of the dog.
Sept. 16 ' Talladega 21000 Half-Marathon ' Talladega, AL ' www.Talladegahalfmarathon.com
Runners will get a chance to run on one of NASCAR's most famous tracks, albeit at slower speeds than the gas-fueled racers. The race, which benefits prostate cancer research, takes runners into the grandstands and around the track. Post race party in the pit garages.
Oct. 27 ' Zombie Buffet 5k ' Nashville, TN ' www.zombiebuffet5k.com
In this race that aims to give a preview of the zombie apocalypse, runners are given two flags around their belt. The first person to make it to the end of the race with the most flags intact wins. If you lose both flags, you become a zombie and pursue the other runners.