Women’s-only races have become increasingly popular and plentiful across Canada. They exist to promote a common and important goal: to showcase and celebrate the achievements of female runners and walkers.
There are many reasons why a female runner may seek this sort of event. Some women feel that top placing males get more recognition than their female counterparts; beginner runners can be apprehensive about a large, mixed field; womens-only events offer a more supportive and inclusive environment and there are plenty of women who would simply like a chance to be the first to break the tape. Those looking for a unique experience to share with their girlfriends may also prefer a womens-only race. Here are some of the best women’s races in Canada and beyond to consider:
Canada’s largest chocolate inspired running event takes place on the weekend before Mother’s Day on Windsor’s waterfront. This is a great event to treat your mother to. It has a fun and friendly vibe with chocolate and firemen at aid stations and more chocolate at the finish. Participants also receive a signature race kit/purse that includes wine and more chocolate treats. The area of Walkerville, Windsor is also great for exploring restaurants and shopping before and after the race. Runners–men are welcome as well but the field remains about 95 per cent women–can sign up for a flat and fast 5K, 10K or half marathon, all which run on Riverside Drive. A big bonus: Seeing views of the Detroit skyline while you run.
Canmore, Alberta and Vancouver, B.C.
Participants will most certainly appreciate the scenic mountain views along the race course which now takes place in Vancouver in addition to the original Canmore event. The event is all about creating a safe, fun and inclusive event for women that inspires the pursuit of an active, healthy and environmentally-responsible lifestyle. Races offer a non-competitive atmosphere with well-being stations along the course, amazing swag for all participants and a healthy post-race reception. The event raises money for Fast and Female, a national charity that works with female Olympians to inspire and create empowering sporting environments for young women.
Women set the pace at this popular race series that also includes a 10K/5K event on August 26th and an 8K/5K on October 16th. This half marathon event also offers a 5K option and all courses start and finish in Toronto’s Sunnybrook Park and travel through the Don Valley trail system. The Toronto Women’s Run Series aims to provide an opportunity for women to race in a supportive and inclusive atmosphere and offers the unqiue chance for competitive runners to be the first to cross the finish line. All participants receive a 2XU women’s technical running shirt, free digital race photos, a great race kit and access to the festive post race party. All finishers also get an exclusive finishers’ necklace designed by Foxy Originals. The series is also committed to raising vital funds for the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO) with a goal is to raise $30,000 in 2017, which would bring their cumulative total to more than $350,000 over the years.
California’s original trail race for women includes free massages and wine tasting – are you ready to sign up yet? The SoCal Wine Country Women’s Half Marathon takes place on the Vail Lake Resort trails. The course is challenging, but worth it for the lake views and stunning scenery. The race has prizes for the group with the most team spirit, so get your girlfriends together, book some flights to California and make this a week or weekend to remember.
Victoria and Port Coquitlam, British Columbia
Named one of Canada’s best and supporting the BC Cancer Foundation, the Goddess Run now takes place in two locations in early June. The finisher’s medals (which are in fact necklaces) proclaim each finisher to be a goddess. The race weekend features a 10K, 5K and Kids Run. Sign up for yoga the day before the race, book your massage for afterwards and celebrate the strength of your fellow women while treating yourself like a goddess.
Niagara Falls, Ontario
This event makes for a truly unforgettable girls getaway weekend. The porta-potties have flowers and lavender scent, there is music and entertainment throughout the course, your race kit includes cosmetics, perfumes and a bottle of wine. Do we need to say more? The primarily flat and certainly scenic course takes you past the breathtaking Niagara Falls not once, but twice. The area is a hot spot for shopping, dining, spas, golfing, cycling and wine-tasting, so you’ll want to make a trip of it.
An event which promotes women’s health, fitness and well-being in the community. This 8K race can be walked, jogged or run and starts and finishes near the Lethbridge Lodge. Afterward, quench your thirst with orange juice and load up on free chocolate. The fresh flowers given to finishers is a nice touch and foodies will love the post-race brunch! How often do you get to cross the finish and enjoy eggs and bacon? Yum. The event also supports and raises funds for the Alberta Health Services, Breast and Cervical Health Program.
New York City, New York
What could be more fun than a girls-only trip to the Big Apple? Now in it’s 46th year, the women’s only ‘Mini 10K’ is an amazing way to experience New York City and more specifically Central park, its most iconic green space and the location of the race. The post-race celebration is a party in the park, complete with photo booths, music, raffles and celebrity meet and greets. Notable women who have raced this one include Paula Radcliffe, Deena Kastor and Kim Smith.
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
The Sole Sisters Women’s Race Series offers two exceptional events starting with the June 5K on June 10th. Later in the year, on October 1st, they offer a half and quarter marathon event–the largest of its kind in Eastern Canada–that also includes a 5K. Together, these events are the perfect venue for women who seek to celebrate the sport that they love. The races are ideal for introducing a friend that is new to running to the racing atmosphere, or for competitive runners to enjoy a stress-free event. The courses feature music, chocolate, a hug station, water games and lots of cheering spectators to ensure a memorable run. Plus, how many races are you going to get to do that feature a shopping warmup and cooldown?
This race has been bringing a bit of the tropics to Toronto Island since 2009, with steel drums to dance to, tropical fruit for snacking and coconut water for hydrating. This race offers a unique way to experience the Toronto Islands – an area that is often forgotten as a tourist destination and is home to the Centreville Amusement Park and four different sailing clubs. Ferry tickets are included in the race kit.
If you’re into Disney and looking for a fairytale race to make your running wishes come true, look no further than the Disney Princess Half-Marathon. The race weekend also features an Enchanted 10K and Royal Family 5K, as well as the Glass Slipper Challenge–which means running both the 10K and half-marathon. Taking place entirely within the Disney World theme park, the course travels from Epcot, past Cinderella’s Castle and through the Magic Kingdom. Your favourite Disney princesses will also be there lining the course to cheer you on.