How to choose your summer race

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A runner finishes the Provo City Half Marathon. Utah hosts a plethora of races during the summer. (Maddi Dayton)

They’re everywhere — on the streets, trails and at the gym — and they’re always running.

As the summer running season begins, many people set goals to get in shape, be more adventurous, have fun or be social. These are all things that running in races can provide this summer.

Anyone can run, but each individual should pay attention to his or her health needs. “You need to assess where your body is currently,” said Brock Valuch, employee at 26.2 Running Company. “You don’t have to be in Superman shape to be a runner. People always seem to think that they have to be at a certain level to begin something. Don’t get discouraged — just getting started and sticking with it is the most important part of running.”

If there is a distance that you want to run, set goals and make plans to achieve your goals. You can do anything if you’re motivated enough.

Many people run to challenge themselves, get in shape or enjoy the outdoors. They also experience a feeling called the “runner’s high” — a feeling of euphoria, calmness or strength thanks to endorphins released while running.

“Running in general makes me feel better throughout the day,” former BYU student Brandon Borget said. “If I miss a day of running, or even a couple of days in a row, I find that my mood is affected and I am not very pleasant to be around.”

There are four traditional types of races: 5K (3.1 miles), 10K (6.2 miles), half marathon (13.1 miles) and full marathon (26.2 miles). Challenging obstacle-course races are also popular for non-traditional runners. These races include  the Dirty Dash, Tough Mudder, Spartan Race and The Color Run.

Utah hosts a plethora of races and during the summer season runners do not need to look very far to find a local 5K or half marathon that fits their needs.

“Organization, scenic courses, competition, price, social atmosphere and time of the year are really important,” said BYU student and runner Natalie Shepard. “Don’t sign up for a race that is too long. Challenge yourself, but choose a race that you will enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t want to do it again.”

There are many options available to help prepare beginning, intermediate and advanced runners for their races. Websites such as halfmarathon.net and runnersworld.com offer in-depth training guides. Runner’s Corner in Orem provides a running technique basics class for $8. The basics class includes a video analysis of running form to increase efficiency and reduce risk of injury.

Here is a list of 10 summer races to sign up for:

• The Dirty Dash 5K/10K in Soldier Hollow in Midway on June 6. Expect to get dirty  navigating mud pits, hurdling over haystacks, slipping and sliding on inflatable obstacles and washing off in a foam bath. Price: $55, $65 after June 3

• The Utah Valley Marathon was selected as one of the top 10 races in 2014 by Runner’s World Magazine. The June 13 race is beautiful, scenic and fast — it’s mostly downhill. Price: $115

• The Park City Trail Series is part of a four-part race series from June to September to train beginner trail runners and to help advanced trailer runners increase their overall speed. Price: Varies

• The American Fork Run Against Cancer is a June 27 scenic race through American Fork Canyon that donates 100 percent of the proceeds raised to those in the community currently fighting cancer. Price: $90

• The Spartan Race—Super is an eight-mile obstacle course at Soldier Hollow in Midway on June 27. Tthe race features more than 20 obstacles ranging from crawling under barbed wire, jumping through fire and carrying a sandbag up a hill. Price: $79 on Groupon

• The Freedom 5K/10K is the perfect way to spend the Fourth of July morning. More than 6,000 runners will be decked out in their finest red, white, and blue patriotic apparel. Price: $27

• The Bubble Run is July 11 at the Utah State Fairgrounds in Salt Lake City. Participants can run, walk and dance through the three-mile course, which includes four different colored Foam Bogs. Price: $50

• The Bryce Canyon Half Marathon is a fast, scenic race on July 11. The course is a flat and downhill run and descends through the beautiful Bryce Canyon National Park. Price: $45.

• The Temple to Temple 5K on Pioneer Day has runners go from the Provo Temple to the still-under-construction Provo City Center Temple. This race is perfect for all ages and levels. Price: Free

• Escape Ogden is a one-of-a-kind race. Runners dressed in prison garb “escape” down the Ogden River Parkway Trail while chased by “cops” (volunteers) wielding super soakers and fire hoses. Price: $35

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