When it comes to running holidays, it seems like Easter is the poor cousin, the one who always has to sit at the kids table in the kitchen while everybody else is in the dining room at family gatherings.
There’s no question that Thanksgiving is the Number One holiday in this country for running; in fact, it may be the biggest DAY for running, period. Seems like every other town in America has a Turkey Trot, with more springing up each year with no sign of the satiation point having been reached.
July Fourth is probably second, with the three Days – Memorial, Labor, and New Year’s – not far behind, in number of events and total competitors.
But somehow Easter seems to have mostly missed out on any big tie-ins with running and racing, possibly even being eclipsed by the holiday that precedes it on the calendar, St. Patrick’s Day.
There are probably a number of reasons for this.
First, Easter is a movable feast, meaning its date is determined by a somewhat arcane canonical calculation involving among other factors the phases of the moon (there’s actually an online calculator that will provide you with the date of Easter for the next century or so, should you be one of those types who’s inclined to make your plans well in advance).
As such, there’s no predicting what type of weather will greet the Easter Bunny or any runners that might trail behind him. It could be a near blizzard, particularly in the Northeast recently, or stifling heat and humidity in the South or West.
Second, Easter is a religious holiday, albeit one that isn’t celebrated by the increasing non-Christian segment of the U.S. The day is typically devoted to church and family, with a decided emphasis on food, both the sugary confections that fill kids’ baskets as well as large meals, whether eaten at home or in a restaurant (Easter is one of the biggest days of the year for dining out).
Sunrise services and midday brunches leave no time to squeeze in a race, meaning any Easter-themed events are probably scheduled for the day before. That’s proven to be a good alternative, since many people (certainly every school) have Good Friday off, making Easter Saturday relatively devoid of significant activities, and not the travel horror show that the Thanksgiving weekend has become.
And generally, just as the religious observance of Easter focuses on a spiritual rebirth, the running aspect of the holiday rejoices in the long-awaited arrival of spring, particularly in areas like New England where winter has threatened to drag on past Mother’s Day. It’s a good time to get out and stretch your legs, busting off some of the rust that’s accumulated over the course of a winter spent bundled up in multiple layers or trying to maintain sanity while relegated to the treadmill.
And so, while nowhere near as numerous as Turkey Trots or Firecracker 5Ks, there are plenty of Hare Hops and Bunny Boogies to jumpstart any runner’s spring campaign.
And given the chocolate eggs, jelly beans and Peeps many of us will consume, even if it’s through snitching from our kids’ Easter baskets, the opportunity to create even a slight caloric deficit ahead of time is something to be grateful for.