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North County San Diego 5Ks, Marathons, Cycling & More (2018 Guide)

North County San Diego 5Ks, Marathons, Cycling & More (2018 Guide)

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Throughout North County, you’ll see people outside. Walking, running, cycling, the weather beckons people out of their homes. But after a while, the same routines can become mundane, so we look to races to pump the adrenaline back in.

North County hosts a variety of events that will spark your enthusiasm, have family fun, fund a charity, race to beat your best, or challenge what you thought your best could ever be! Fees based on publish date and may be subject to change.

Warrior Spirit 5K Run/Walk - February 3rd, 2018

Carlsbad, 5K

The 9th Annual 5K Warrior Spirit Run/Walk and Family Festival benefit the Michael Thorp Foundation. The foundation supports families whose children suffer from life-threatening illnesses, diseases and disorders, by providing financial, emotional and resource support. Located at Poinsettia Park, the Warrior Spirit 5K has separate courses for walkers and runners. Walkers will loop the park three times and the run course has one loop in and out of the park. The event is family friendly with food vendors, entertainment area, kids area, performance groups and an aerial entry by retired Navy Seal Jim Woods.

Cardiff Kook Run - February 4th, 2018

Cardiff By the Sea – 5K, 10K, Costume Contest

A Super Bowl Sunday tradition, the Cardiff Kook Run is a celebration of the beauty and fun of Cardiff. Starting under the Encinitas sign, the course is out and back and follows the coastline. The 10K features cash prizes for the top 3 finishers. The 5K Costume Contest features cash prizes for best costume (not based on race times). Proceeds from the race help to support the Cardiff School, Ada Harris Elementary, BSA of Encinitas, and Cardiff 101 Main Street.

Carlsbad 5000 Kick-Off Party- February 11th, 2018

Carlsbad – 5K

Hosted by the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, the Carlsbad 5000 Kick-Off Party is a great way to get excited about the Marathon! Enjoy a 5K Fun Run that starts at the Bressi Ranch Pizza Port. The race is followed by raffles, fun, and pizza. You can register for the Carlsbad 5000 onsite with a discount.

Zombie Escape 5K - February 11th, 2018

Rancho Bernardo

5k, 1 Mile Fun Run

A zombie pandemic has taken over San Diego County and racers have to maneuver through hoards of zombies to the safe zone! In this fun and unique race, all racers will be given a flag belt (think flag football), the goal is to reach the Safe Zone with flags still intact. If runners succeed they will be awarded a “Survivor” medal, if all their flags are taken, they will receive an “Infected” medal. If running as a team, all members will “survive” if at least one flag makes it to the safe zone intact. The course begins with 1.5 miles of running before major zombies are encountered. After that the rest of the course is considered “the infected zombie zone” where runners might have to navigate minor obstacles mixed in with the hoard. The Safe Zone Finishers Festival will include vendors, games, kids activities, food trucks, music, and a TV/Movie Screening at 5:30pm.

5K Paw Walk in the Garden - February 17th, 2018

Encinitas – 5K

Once a year, the San Diego Botanical Gardens offers a special treat to dog lovers. The 5K Paw Walk in the Garden is the only time of year gods are allowed on the premises. This is the 6th year of the 5K and proceeds benefit The Rancho Coastal Humane Society and the San Diego Botanic Garden. The route begins at the San Dieguito Heritage Museum and winds through 37-acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. Join this walk individually, or as a team, to raise money for both organizations. All participants will receive a t-shirt, and additional prizes will be awarded to the individual and groups that raise the most money.

San Pasqual Valley Half Marathon - February 17th, 2018

Escondido – Half Marathon, 10k, Kids Race

The San Pasqual Valley Half Marathon takes runners through scenic Bandy Canyon. The Half Marathon is an out and back course that summits on top of Raptor Ridge, twice! The 10k is a mostly flat out and back course. Both courses are on 100% groomed dirt, single track trails. Aid stations are based on length of course, but be prepared to self-hydrate. Both courses are great for all running levels, but if planning to do the half marathon prepare for the hills.

Sycamore Canyon Trail Races - February 24th, 2018

Poway – 100K Solo/Relay, 50K, Half Marathon

The Sycamore Canyon Trail Races feature a 100K, a 50K and a Half marathon. The 100K is a multiple loop course that can be run as a solo Ultra, or as a relay team. Relays can be in 2 or 4 person combinations. The 100k and 50k follow a figure 8 lap course with several aid stations. Expect 1400’ elevation gains per loop. The Half Marathon course consists of two clockwise loops. All participants will receive a long sleeve tech shirt and finishers will receive medals. Top finishers will receive additional rewards.

Encinitas Half Marathon - March 4, 2018

Encinitas – Half Marathon

The Encinitas Half Marathon is a 13.1-mile tour through Encinitas, Leucadia and Solana Beach. The race includes 7 miles of oceanfront running, including an oceanfront start and finish. This out and back course begins and ends at Moonlight Beach and has a 3 hour and 15-minute time limit (based on chip). The course has gently rolling hills, and one steep hill about 40 yards long. A great course for Elite racers and beginners, participants will receive a finisher’s medal, soft Tech Tee, free breakfast (with Mexican Hot Chocolate), Encinitas Half Souvenir Mug, Sponsor Swag. Cash prizes will also be awarded to the top 5 overall male and female finishers. Strollers, running chairs, and racing chairs are welcome.

Coast to Crest - March 10, 2018

Del Mar – 10K, 5K, Kids Race

Following the trail along Jimmy Durante Blvd,  the Coast to Crest 5K and 10K is Del Mar’s only trail race. A Sprint Course for most, the out and back course starts and finishes at the San Dieguito River Park. The 100% dirt course is flat and fast. Great for all running levels, there will also be a kids race the day of the event.

Carmel Valley 5K & Fun Run - March 11, 2018

Carmel Valley – 5K, Kids Race

Based at the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch the Carmel Valley 5K and Fun Run is a family-friendly event in its 6th year. Registered participants receive a finisher’s medal, t-shirt, goody bag and after party. Cash prizes awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place. Proceeds from this event benefit local schools.

Del Mar Mud Run - March 31, 2018

Del Mar – 5K

The Del Mar Mud Run takes place at the Del Mar Racetrack. The course winds its way through the stables and infield. During the race expect to encounter many different obstacles and lots of MUD! Post-race, rinse off in the signature Foam Fest showers, courtesy of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Foam Experience. All participants receive an official race tee, finishers medal, free first beer (or non-alcoholic beverage). This popular event sells out yearly, so make sure to register early!

Tip Top Run: Leprechaun Dash & Bash - March 17, 2018

Carlsbad – 10K, 5K, Fun Run

Enjoy gorgeous views of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon at this year’s Tip Top Run: Leprechaun Dash and Bash. A crowd favorite, the Dash and Bash features two courses. The 5k begins near Tamarack State Beach (at the end of Garfield Road), while the 10K is a bit more challenging and varied, and starts near the Flower Fields. Both courses end at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. Finishers can continue the fun at the World Water Day Family Fun Festival. From 9am-12pm, festivities will include live music, beer garden, games, exhibitors, vendors and educational crafts. Registered racers will also receive lunch from Tip Top Meats, a t-shirt, swag bag, bib, and medal.

  • Tip Top Run: Leprechaun Dash and Bash
  • 8:30am Start
  • Fee: Members $40 Single/$55 Dual/Kids Free; Prospective-Members $75 Single/$120 Dual /$30 Kids (Free entry for kids enrolled in the Agua Hedionda Kids Klub)
  • Agua Hedionda Lagoon
  • 1580 Cannon Rd, Carlsbad, CA 92008

Carlsbad 5000 - March 24-25, 2018

Carlsbad – 5k, 20k, Junior Race

The Carlsbad 5000 is returning for its 33rd year in 2018! Part of the Rock N’ Roll Marathon Series, more than 40,000 participants are expected to join this year. The race weekend includes pre-parties, a weekend expo, a Junior Race Day and the main event on Sunday.

Saturday, racers 12 and under, can enjoy the Junior Carlsbad 1 Mile. Starting on Grand Avenue, the race takes the kids around Carlsbad Village. The Junior Carlsbad is a fun event where all younger runners can enjoy the sun, food, and music. Beat the crowds and pick up your kids t-shirt, goodie bag, and race number early. The Pre-Registration Party is on Friday at the Village Faire Plaza, 3pm-6pm.

On Sunday, racers can choose between the 5K or the all-day 20K. Races start in Carlsbad Village and follow a scenic course to the finish line. Relax after the event with 80’s music provided by the headlining band BetaMaxx, and a beer garden provided by Pizza Port.

San Diego Kids and Family Splash and Dash - March 24th, 2018

Carmel Valley – Aquathlon

The San Diego Kids and Family Splash and Dash is part of the USA Triathlon Youth Championship Series. Kids can earn points at this event that go toward being a Youth Regional Triathlon Champion. The Aquathlon takes place at the Carmel Valley Community Pool & Recreation Center. Kids 7-15 years old and families will swim around buoys and run distances based on age. Kids can choose to compete in the Kids Wave or along with their family in the Family Wave. Finishers receive a medal, t-shirt, and healthy refreshments. This event is limited to the first 100 kids and families, so sign up soon!

Ironman Oceanside - April 6-7th, 2018

Oceanside – Ironman 70.3, Kids Fun Run

Top pros from around the world will gather in Oceanside for the Ironman 70.3. Racers will swim in Oceanside Harbor, bike up the California coastline to San Clemente, then head back down through Camp Pendleton, and finish with a run along the Oceanside Strand. Because of the location, views, and core of Marine volunteers, the Oceanside Ironman is a favorite. Registration includes Tech shirt, Sling Bag, Finisher’s Medal, Finisher’s Hat, Luggage Tag, Post-Race Food, Post-Race Massage. The 2018 Ironman Oceanside 70.3 will offer 30 qualifying slots to the 2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Nelson Bay, South Africa.

On Friday, April 6th, the IronKids Fun Run will take place on the Oceanside Strand Pier. Kids 3-13 years old can choose to run 1 mile or a Half Mile. IronKids aims to promote healthy living and active lifestyles by giving kids the opportunity to experience the thrill of competition. Parents, family, and friends are invited to cheer on the racers and enjoy the family-centered event.

XTERRA Black Mountain Trail Run - April 8, 2018

Rancho Penasquitos – 15K, 5K

Presented by The North Face, The Black Mountain Trail Run is the 6th race in the XTERRA Runs SoCal series. Beginning at Black Mountain Ranch Community Park, the course consists of wide fire roads with some single track sections. Great for beginners and advanced athletes, Black Mountain trail is scenic, with twists, turns, and a small creek crossing. Participants receive a soft cotton race t-shirt, finisher’s medal, coffee and hot breakfast (post race), and entry into a raffle.

Foxy Trail Half Marathon - April 8, 2018

Rancho Bernardo – Half Marathon, 5K

The Foxy Trail Half Marathon and 5K is the first event in both of the Dirt Devil Racing Series. Runners who complete the series will earn a Mike Hess Brewing Growler with a Dirt Devil Racing logo. The Foxy Trail Half Marathon is the most scenic race in the series. Both courses are out and back, starting at Rancho Bernardo Park and winding around Lake Hodges. The Half Marathon will have 5 aid stations on the course. All finishers will receive a race logo pint glass, moisture wicking race logo shirt, and a custom race medal. Additional prizes will be awarded to the top 3 Male and Female Racers and First Place Age Group Winners.

La Jolla Half Marathon - April 22, 2018

Del Mar – Half Marathon, 5K

The La Jolla Half Marathon is one of America’s most picturesque point-to-point races. Part of the Half Marathon Triple Crown Series, the course starts at Del Mar Fairgrounds, follows a beautiful coastal course up to Torrey Pines Mesa, and finishes in La Jolla Cove, at Ellen Browning Scripps Park. At the end of the race enjoy a festival with a live band, refreshments, beer garden and local vendors. The race has a 3-hour time limit and 100% of the net proceeds benefit the La Jolla Kiwanis Foundation. The course is fully staffed with water and portable toilets along the way. Registered participants receive a technical fabric race shirt, keepsake cinch bag, custom finisher’s medal, and complimentary beer at the finish line (21+).

The La Jolla Shores 5K follows the last 3.1 miles of the Marathon Course. Mostly downhill, this part of the course features some of the most scenic views.

Children for Children - April 28, 2018

Rancho Bernardo – 5K

The Children for Children 5K was started in 2015, by a now 12-year-old. Natasha Preece and her family have organized this family-friendly event with the mission to help get underprivileged youth active. The course is out and back and begins at Rancho Bernardo Community Park. The course is easily traversed by kids of all ages but is too rocky for strollers. All finishers will receive a medal and awards will be given for 1st, 2nd & 3rd places in both Overall and Age Groups categories.

Cinco de Mayo Trail Run - May 5, 2018

Poway – 10K, 5K, Kids Fun Run

The Cinco de Mayo Trail Run is a challenging off-road course, that follows Lake Poway Trail around the lake, near the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve. The 5K can be run at any pace, elite trail runners can run up challenging hills, and families can enjoy the scenic hike. The 10K is out and back and filled with many hills which makes it a grueling course. The course continues through Blue Sky and has a +10% climb to the Ramona Dam. Both the 5K and 10K will have waves start and will feature the IPICO timing system. For younger racers, the Kathy Young Memorial Kids Race follows a ⅓ mile trail on the side of Lake Poway and ends on the main Finish Line. Kids 7 and under can participate.

The Finish Line will feature a post-race Fiesta with food, music and awards ceremony. All participants will receive a t-shirt and virtual goodie bag. Cash awards will be given to the top three finishers in the 5K and 10K. Children that complete any of the races will receive a ribbon. Funds from the Cinco de Mayo Trail Run will benefit socioeconomically disadvantaged Poway students through the Valley Elementary Educational Foundation.

Night Nation Run - May 12, 2018

Del Mar – 5K

Become a member of Night Nation in the world’s first Running Music Festival. At the Del Mar Fairgrounds, the music-filled course has DJs, light shows, bubble zones, neon lights, selfie stations, and ends with a Main-Stage after-party featuring top headlining DJs. Participants will receive a t-shirt, glow necklace, and free admission to the after party. Part of the proceeds from The Night Nation Run will benefit Stand Up to Cancer.

Vista Strawberry Run - May 27, 2018

Vista – 10K, 5K, Kids Fun Run

San Diego County’s sweetest race, the Vista Strawberry Run, coincides with the annual Strawberry Festival. The 10K has two challenging hills, continues through Brengle Terrace Park, then follows along Buena Vista Creek and through the historic Rancho Vista Adobe. The 5K winds through historic downtown Vista, runs through Vista’s many Kite Sculptures and ends at the Strawberry Festival. All racers will receive a t-shirt, goodie bag, finisher’s medal, free craft beer (21+) and strawberries at the finish line! Additionally, the top three finishers in the 10K and 5K will be awarded cash prizes. Kids 12 and younger can enjoy a 1-mile Fun Run. Kids 5 and younger can race in a ¼ mile dash. After the race, enjoy the Vista Strawberry Festival complete with vendors, carnival rides, live entertainment and more.

  • Strawberry 5000
  • 10K: 6:45am, 5K: 7:45am, Kids Races: 9:10am-9:45am
  • 10K: $45, 5K $35, 5K/10K Combo: $55 (25% Off for active duty military); Kids 1 Mile: $20, Kids ¼ Mile: $20
  • 110 S Citrus Ave, Vista, CA 92084

Race Across America - June 12 & 16, 2018

Oceanside – Cycling

The world’s toughest bicycle race starts in Oceanside. The race begins at Oceanside Pier and spans 3000 miles, crossing 12 states and climbing 175,000 feet. The route traverses the Sierra, Rocky and Appalachian Mountain ranges, crosses the Colorado, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio rivers, and travels over the great plains. 30% longer than the Tour De France, racers must complete the distance in half the time, without any rest days. Open to amateur and professional racers, Race Across America has become a global icon and has had racers from over 35 countries take on the challenge. Racers can compete in solo, 2, 4 and 8 person teams. Solo racers have 12 days to complete the journey, while teams only have 9. Finishers receive a coveted jersey, medal and become a part of the elite RAAM family.

Black Mountain 50K - June 30, 2018

Rancho Penasquitos – 50K, 25K

The Black Mountain 50K and 25K are challenging courses that wind through the Black Mountain open space and Lusardi Creek Trails. The course is arduous, some places are steep and others rocky, but racers will be rewarded with beautiful views. Aid stations will be located along the course. All 50K participants will receive a technical shirt and a custom race Buff. 25K racers will receive a technical shirt. All finishers will receive a finishers medal. The top three finishers in the 50K and 25K will receive a handcrafted wood trophy designed by Elevation Culture. The first runner to reach the top of the first hill (approx. 1 mile) will snag the “Hill Champ” coin and will also receive free entry to either distance race for the following year. Lunch and cold drinks will be provided at the finish line. All runners and families are invited to stick around and enjoy the day.

Solana Beach Triathlon & Duathlon - July 29, 2018

Solana Beach – Triathlon, Duathlon, Aquabike

Located at Fletcher’s Cove, the Solana Beach Triathlon, Duathlon, and Aquabike has an idyllic location. The surf-entry swim is supported by lifeguards and swim buddies. The bike and run course follow the Pacific Coast Highway to the finish line. Each race features a technical t-shirt, continental breakfast, beer garden, entertainment, and finishers medals. Additional awards for the top three finishers in the Triathlon and Duathlon. Part of the proceeds will benefit The Challenged Athlete Foundation.

Drea Colores: Drea Colores grew up in Tucson, AZ and now lives in Carlsbad. Writer + Maker + Photographer. IG: dreacolores