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Can you believe that fall of 2021 is literally weeks away? The new year is inching closer and closer, but global headlines are bringing flashbacks of spring 2020.
If the overwhelming state of the world has you down (we’re still in a pandemic after all), one thing many of us turn to is running and physical activity to steady an overactive nervous system. Yes, running is not a cure-all, but studies have shown that physical activity can improve nearly every measure of psychological well-being, including stress and symptoms of depression. And while experts are still debating the existence or explanation behind the “runner’s high,” many of us can swear that we’ve felt it.
Want to add some sprinkles on top of those good feelings? Achieving a goal (like training for and completing a race) triggers a boost in dopamine. Studies suggest that so does giving back to others through charity. No wonder charity races have continued to flourish, even when other forms of racing were shuttered due to the pandemic.
Charity Races in September
We rounded up five ways for you to get outside, move your body, and give to some of the best charity races out there.
September 11, Nationwide + Virtual
On the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, runners across the country will gather to honor the ground zero first responders as well as the veterans of the recently concluded war that followed the attacks. In-person charity races are planned in 20 states from coast to coast, with an option to participate virtually as well. According to the event site: “Proceeds are used to directly support Travis Manion Foundation’s mission to empower our nation’s veterans and families of our fallen heroes to develop character in future generations.”
September 11, Maryland + Virtual
Another 9/11 remembrance run, hosted by Charm City Run and presented by Brooks Running, will raise money for the Run to Remember Fund, which supports the Baltimore Police Foundation and the Baltimore Fire Department in helping families who have lost someone in the line of duty.
Like many, Charm City Run CEO Josh Levinson recalls going on a run to process the events of that September morning 20 years ago. “I tried to make sense of what had happened and of course had no answers. What could I do? How could I contribute? I wondered how I could do something positive…something to show our collective strength and resilience,” he says. “With the original Charm City Run retail store yet to be opened, I decided that we would come together as a community on every 9/11 to move our legs as one. We would comfort each other and show strength as one.”
This run will begin at precisely 8:46 a.m., starting in front of the 9/11 Memorial of Maryland. Virtual runners are also welcome.
Starting September 20, Virtual
Last year’s Women Run the Vote virtual relay was so popular that it quickly sold out at 10,000 participants. The 2020 relay was put on in support of Black Voters Matter leading up to the presidential election and educated participants on civil rights history. This year’s 907-mile relay will educate runners on another crucial piece of social justice: the climate crisis and how it relates to land rights and Indigenous knowledge. Women Run the Vote 2021 will raise funds for the Duwamish Tribe of Seattle, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, and Runners for Public Lands.
“Our event centers Indigenous people and nations who have been stewards of the land from time immemorial,” says Oiselle’s director of sports advocacy Alison Mariella Désir. “We all need to take concrete actions to address the climate crisis and centering Indigenous communities and their knowledge is a critical step, along with understanding the ways that we can hold politicians accountable through civic actions, like voting.”
Teams of up to 20 people can sign up to split the mileage over the course of a week, starting September 20 and ending September 26.
September 25, Colorado + Virtual
Run the streets of the Olympic steeplechaser’s hometown at an elevation of 8,900 feet for a cause near to Coburn’s heart—her mom was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer in 2019. The chosen charity partner for this 5K event is Living Journeys, an organization that provides financial and emotional support to people with cancer. And if you start a fundraising team and raise over $250, your entry fee will be waived.
If you can’t make it to the beautiful mountain town of Crested Butte for the first weekend in fall (did we mention it’s beautiful?), you can still join the fun virtually wherever you are.
September 26, Minnesota + Virtual
“We run on hope. We run for research. We are not giving up.” Join the run in honor of the late pro runner Gabriele Grunewald and for all the people living with rare, incurable cancers. Proceeds from the fourth annual run will go to the Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundation, which funds research on the specific type of cancer Grunewald had.
The run is happening in St. Paul, Minnesota, where there will also be space set aside to honor Abigail Anderson, Grunewald’s sister who was struck by a car and killed in August of this year. An option to join the race virtually is also available.