Valleyfair’s Run and Ride is a one-of-a-kind event, for experienced runners as well as first-timers. The North Star 5K and Snoopy’s One-Mile Fun Run are on May 20; The Valleyfair quarter and half marathons are set for May 21.
The races start early in the morning, so participants might be treated (if the sky is clear) to the sunrise over roller coasters with Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the whole Peanuts Gang cheering them along.
There are three key elements that make this race unique, according to Matt Hehl, public relations and communications manager at Valleyfair. “There’s no course like this,” he says. “You’re running through Valleyfair, getting behind the scenes and looking at everything up close.” Some of the ride operators will conduct test-runs before the park opens, and runners will follow a course that goes beneath sections of rollercoasters, where guests don’t normally have the chance to venture.
The event has been voted the best post-race party by Runner’s World Magazine. Races typically finish just before the park opens for the day. By the time the race is finished, the park is up and ready to go, and participants can enjoy a day at the park with their families and supporters.
Racers receive a finisher medal, choice of park passes picked up at registration (length is dependent on which race the registrant participants in), BibChip timing and instant online results (5K and quarter- and half-marathons only), commemorative bib number, Run and Ride T-shirt, free parking the morning of the race, prizes and awards for top three finishers in each category, friends and family park entry discounts and post-race food.
The event hosted over 1,000 runners last year, “And we’re hoping to build,” Hehl says. Proceeds from the race go toward helping the local community—a portion of the race registration fees benefits the local chapter of the Boys and Girls Club.