Some people may consider the term “fun run” an oxymoron, like “jumbo shrimp” or “government intelligence.” Not us! While we don’t think every single race should be geared toward entertaining, there is a place for events that incorporate whimsical themes or elements.

Apparently, the Missouri Division of Tourism feels the same way. It just published an article on fun runs in our home state. Here’s a portion of what it had to say:

One way to keep fit and have fun throughout the year is to do fun runs, and with fun runs in the Show-Me State, you can keep your New Year’s resolution and break it at the same time.

Fun runs incorporate a little imagination, a little creativity and the proper incentive.

“I think it’s the cupcakes,” said Deanna Kakouris, regional manager of Big Shark Bicycle Company.

Cupcakes? Yes. Big Shark and Lift for Life Academy in St. Louis recently co-sponsored the Gateway Cup Cake and Bottle Cap Dash as a benefit for the alternative middle and high school. The unique race—with cupcakes as its centerpiece—is held each November, with the third annual race already on the calendar for November 8 of this year.

During 2013’s event, an informal survey of seven women waiting to begin the race confirmed Kakouris’ statement: five of them admitted they came for the cupcakes from Jilly’s Cupcake Bar and Café, a popular St. Louis eatery.

“We’ve had people come from out of state—Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan—and a lot of them had heard about it from friends of theirs that have shared that the event was so much fun that they came only for this reason,” Kakouris said.

And who wouldn’t? Jilly’s won “Cupcake Wars” on the Food Network.

The 5k race course in St. Louis’ Forest Park is interspersed with five cupcake stations. “Eaters” (those running for the cupcakes, as opposed to serious runners, also known as “non-eaters”) stop at each station and choose a small or large cupcake. They are required to remain in the corral at the station until the treat is finished. At the end of the race, five minutes are deducted from a participant’s race time for each large cupcake and three minutes for each small one consumed. The catch is, runners have to keep them down.

A second part of the event, the Bottle Cap Dash, throws a little twist into the race: obstacles, some physical and some mental. As racers overcome obstacles, they select a bottle cap. At the end of the race, they are rewarded with the varieties of beer—or soft drinks—they chose.

Approximately 1,000 runners from throughout the Midwest—many of them in theme clothing or costumes—participated in the races.

Using a little creativity works for race organizers and is a huge success for the charities the races support.

Here’s a list of other fun runs in and around St. Louis that are both amusing and intriguing:

St. Louis really knows how to celebrate Valentine’s Day: with lots of chocolate. This year, it’s combining the 4-mile Run for the Chocolate with the 2-mile Truffle Shuffle. Race categories include Bachelor/Bachelorette, Off the Market, Cougar Women, Serial Dater Men and “It’s Complicated.” Dessert date prizes, goodie bag treats and edible medals are provided by Bissinger’s Chocolate. www.runforthechocolate.com

A very popular theme for racing events is the Color Run. Check out St. Louis’ Color Run in April, or travel to any number of other regional Color Run races. www.thecolorrun.com

Tap ‘N’ Run in May features a 4k running race with three beer-chug stations along the course, a full beer at the finish line, crazy costumes, great times with friends and overall ridiculousness. Afterward, stick around Soulard for an evening of post-race revelry. www.tapnrun.com

Faster than a speeding bullet? Maybe not, but runners honor everyday heroes—and certainly look the part while doing it—at June’s Superhero Dash in St. Charles. www.superherodashstl.com

Combine challenging and quirky with August’s Foam Fest in St. Louis, featuring mud pits, army crawls, cargo net climbs and a three-story inflatable slide with obstacles that are filled with fluffy white foam. www.5kfoamfest.com

If these races don’t get your blood pumping, up the stakes with a Zombie Run. Springfield and Columbia both will have the walking dead running around town, and the infestation will hit St. Louis in August. www.thezombierun.com

A great holiday-themed race is December’s 5k Ugly Sweater Run. A side benefit is that, unlike some area Undie Runs, you’ll stay toasty in Missouri’s brisk winter weather. www.theuglysweaterrun.com

Source: The Missouri Division of Tourism, www.visitmo.com
Image: www.thecolorrun.com