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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If your New Year’s resolution is to improve your health or pick up a new hobby, running is a great option for 2022. It’s an opportunity to get out of the house, clear your mind and maybe even meet new people.

Plus, running strengthens your heart and puts your muscles and joints through a beneficial stress. In fact, analysis shows regular runners decrease their risk of all causes of death, including cardiovascular disease and cancer, by 25-30%. Plus, running is an approachable method to help you lose weight.

And if that’s not enough, many runners experience a mental health boost from hitting the pavement, or even a treadmill if necessary, and research backs it up.

If you’re new to running, make sure to start simple. Experts don’t recommend that you jump right into a marathon. Those 26.2-mile races take serious training. But with hard work, you can conquer one mile, then a 5K and so on.

So if you’re ready to get running in 2022 — whether you’re a novice or a seasoned expert — here are 10 races in the Kansas City area to check out.

Editor’s note: Most of these races require participants to register in advance. Please check the links included for more information.

Groundhog Run

It’s the 40th anniversary of the Groundhog Run, which benefits children with disabilities at Ability KC. This annual run offers a 5K, 10K or a “tunnel-to-tunnel” experience in the Hunt Midwest SubTropolis — so even if it’s cold outside, runners can stay warm. In honor of the 40th anniversary, the Groundhog Run has an ’80s theme this year.

  • When: Jan. 30; 5K starts at 8 a.m., 10K starts at 10 a.m.
  • Where: Hunt Midwest SubTropolis, 8300 N.E. Underground Drive, Kansas City, Missouri

Sweetheart Run

Grab your sweetheart (or family and friends) and get moving at this Valentine’s Day-themed 5K or 10K. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, you can compete as a two-person team in the 5K course.

  • When: Feb. 12, 9 a.m.
  • Where: 9089 West 135th St., Overland Park, Kansas

Big 12 Run

Grab some gear in your favorite team’s colors and celebrate the Big 12 Conference Championship this spring. This 5K course begins and ends in downtown Kansas City where participants will see Power & Light, the Sprint Center and more decked out for college basketball.

  • When: March 12 at 9 a.m.
  • Where: 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Missouri

Liberty Hospital Half Marathon

Supporting the Liberty Hospital Foundation, this half marathon and the Jewell 5K will take you on a scenic course through William Jewell College and historic downtown Liberty.

  • When: March 26; half marathon starts at 8 a.m., 5K starts at 8:45 a.m.
  • Where: William Jewell College Football Field/Track, 924 State Hwy. H, Liberty, Missouri

Rock the Parkway Half Marathon

The Rock the Parkway course, along Kansas City’s Ward Parkway, is a USATF-certified race. Organizers say it’s one of the fastest half marathon courses in the area. There’s also a 5K option if you’re looking for great Ward Parkway views in a shorter distance. The annual event benefits Children’s Mercy Hospital.

  • When: April 9; half marathon starts at 7:30 a.m., 5K starts at 7:50 a.m.
  • Where: 9400 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, Missouri

Heritage Park Run

With 5K, 10K and 15K options, organizers tout that this Johnson County race has a little something for everyone. The course takes participants by the beautiful Heritage Park Lake and throughout several other areas of the park.

  • When: May 7, 7:30 a.m.
  • Where: Heritage Park, 16050 S. Pflumm Road Olathe, Kansas

Hospital Hill Run

This longtime Kansas City road race takes participants from Crown Center, by the World War I Museum, the Power and Light District and more. There are 5K, 10K and half marathon options, or take your run “virtual” and complete it personally. This year’s race benefits Children’s Mercy Hospital.

  • When: June 4, 7 a.m.
  • Where: Grand Boulevard, north of Pershing, Kansas City, Missouri

Head for the Cure 5K

Thousands typically participate in this annual race in Overland Park, and over the years, the Head for the Cure 5K has raised millions for brain cancer research. This will be the race’s 20th anniversary.

  • When: Aug. 28, 8 a.m.
  • Where: 9401 Indian Creek Parkway, Overland Park, Kansas

Kansas City Zoo Run

The Kansas City Zoo Run offers a 4-mile timed run/walk course and a 1-mile family option, both taking participants through the zoo. Each year, the run spotlights a different animal, and once you complete the course, you can enjoy a free day at the Kansas City Zoo!

  • When: Sept. 17, time TBD
  • Where: 6800 Zoo Drive, Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Marathon

Kansas City’ largest race sees thousands of participants every year, and with 5K, 10K, half and full marathon options, there’s a course for every runner to test themselves on. New last year, the race begins and ends outside the famed Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art while taking you through some of Kansas City’s best neighborhoods.

  • When: Oct. 15; half and full marathons starts at 7 a.m., 10K at 7:30 a.m., 5K at 7:45 a.m.
  • Where: 4525 Oak St, Kansas City, Missouri