by Kym Byrnes

There’s no question that running and walking provide an exercise regimen that offers countless physical and mental benefits. This fall is a perfect opportunity to challenge yourself with a local 5K.

A 2012 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health showed that just 30 minutes of running during the week for three weeks boosted sleep quality, mood, and concentration during the day.
Studies also consistently find that fitter older adults scored better in mental tests than their unfit peers. What’s more, in stroke patients, regular exercise improves memory, language, thinking, and judgment problems by almost 50 percent. Check out these local run/walks and get fit this fall.

Want help getting started with a running program? Check out these local resources: Westminster-based store and running club, the Westminster Road Runners Club at and the Eldersburg Rogue Runners at

October 14:  Zombie Warrior 5K & 1-Mile Fun Run The Jake Offutt Foundation is organizing a Zombie Warrior 5K and 1-mile Fun Run to honor Jake Offutt, a local teen who passed away from brain cancer but loved The Walking Dead. All proceeds benefit pediatric cancer research and individuals in the community for athletic related opportunities. 4 p.m. race time with the 1-mile fun run immediately following. Participants can register as a zombie or a runner. Festivities take place at 501 Old Bachman Valley Road in Westminster. Visit for more information.

Oct 21: Hop, Run or Walk 5K Color Run/Walk October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and Saint John’s Catholic Prep is hosting its second annual HOP, RUN OR WALK. This 5K Color Run/Walk will raise money for the Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund, which goes toward early detection and treatment of breast cancer at Frederick Memorial Hospital. The event takes place at Milkhouse Brewery, 8253 Dollyhyde Rd. in Mt. Airy, check-in begins at 10:30 a.m., race time is noon. For more information, email Maggie Ballantyne at 

Nov 5: Grit n Grub 5K This cross country 5K takes place in the rolling hills overlooking the brand new North Carroll Community School Campus at 401 Stone Rd., in Westminster. This race is family friendly (although no furry family members please) and features a kid run obstacle course. Following the race, curb your run-ger with the Grub Fest featuring food trucks along with a local brewery and live music by the Kelly Bell Band.
For more information, visit

Nov 11: Freedom 5K  The 2nd Annual Freedom 5K is a unique, challenging, and picturesque cross-country event on the Penguin Random House / Westminster Rescue Mission premises that offers plenty of prizes and competition. All proceeds support the Westminster Rescue Mission. Event festivities include refreshments, a DJ and photo booth. For more information, visit 

Nov 11: Island Green Family Fun Center 5K Walk/Run Check out this fun and challenging 5K Walk/Run Cross Country Race. Supporting Hero-Dogs: Service Dogs for America’s Heroes, this race takes place at 1199 S. Pleasant Valley Rd. in Westminster. For more information, visit 

Oct 28:  Spooky Sprint one mile run  •  Nov 25:  Jingle Bell one mile run Get the whole family involved with these shorter one-mile events in downtown Westminster. These run/walks are tied to holiday celebrations and start at the intersection of Hersh Ave. and Pennsylvania Ave. and end at Paide Way (the entrance to the City Park). Each run is followed by a parade. The Spooky Sprint One Mile Run will take place on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 6:55 p.m. and the Jingle Bell One Mile Run on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 4:55 p.m. For more information, visit

Nov 23:  Y Turkey Trot Charity 5k  Open to all ages and abilities, everyone (including your pooch) can walk, run or leisurely stroll the 3.1-mile course and soak in the feel-good vibes! Your participation deeply benefits children and families living in poverty in your local community, so whether you’re trotting solo, on a team or with your family, register now and be surrounded by a community of goodwill Thanksgiving morning. Walk or run starting at Carroll Community College, progressing on streets past Westminster High School and finishing at the Hill Y. Event begins at 8:30 a.m. For more information, visit