6 Holiday Races You Don’t Want to Miss in Gaston County This Year


Whether you sign up for a 5K every month or you’re looking to get your first race on the books, the holiday season in Gaston County is the perfect time to meet your running goals. Summer heat has released its oppressive grip on the Southeast, ushering in weeks of comfortable temperatures and dry skies before winter dips down from the north in full force.

The holiday calendar is packed with events for all ages and ability levels, from dog jogs and stroller walks to 10Ks and half marathons. So fill your holidays with good cheer —and a side of healthy fun—at these six races in Gaston County.

1. Bit of Hope Trail 5K & 2 Mile Run

Get off the roads at the Bit of Hope Trail 5K & 2 Mile Walk. The course winds through the forests and meadows at the Bit of Hope Ranch outside Gastonia, mostly under a scenic canopy of hardwood trees. The race supports the ranch's mission of offering outdoor and equine therapy for children with mental and physical challenges.

2. Belmont Turkey Day 5K

Before you sit down to your Thanksgiving feast, get your calorie burn on at the Belmont Turkey Day 5K on Thanksgiving morning. There’s no entry fee, just a donation in an amount you choose. The run starts and finishes on Main Street in downtown Belmont.

3. Christmas Town 5K

The holiday lights come on just for you at McAdenville’s Christmas Town 5K on the

Saturday after Thanksgiving. Run the town’s hilly streets past 375 live Christmas trees and homes decked out for the season. The historic textile town has been flipping the switch on this spectacular holiday display for more than 50 years, and this race has sold out at 1,300 runners for 2018. But you can still enjoy the event as a spectator—the lights are turned off after the race, and they don’t come back on until December when cars line up for hours to see the show.

4. Girls on the Run 5K

In early December, head over to Belmont to cheer on the elementary-age runners celebrating 10 weeks of training for the Girls on the Run 5K. Girls build confidence and learn the benefits of being active over the course of their training. The race is also a perfect chance to give back to the community by volunteering at registration, packet pick-up, or on the race course.

5. We Believe Santa 5K

Get in the holiday spirit with a fun run on the trails at the U.S. National Whitewater Center at the We Believe - Santa 5K Trail Race & Dog Jog. Just a week before the big man arrives in earnest, there’s nothing more jolly than seeing a herd of Santas trotting through the forest and sipping cocoa at the finish line. Prizes are awarded for best Santa Claus look-alikes, and you won’t be alone if your pup arrives decked out for the season, too.

6. Santa Hustle Half Marathon and 5K

One of the biggest holiday races and post-race parties in the region arrives in Gaston County on the weekend before Christmas. The Santa Hustle Half Marathon & 5K benefits Toys for Tots, so remember to bring your unwrapped donation to the start/finish in Belmont before the starting gun. It also raises money for the Gaston Outreach for Communities in Schools.

The 5K run/walk follows the streets through downtown, while half marathon runners cross the South Fork River and run through downtown Cramerton before reaching the finish line back in downtown Belmont. There’s plenty of candy, cookies, and Christmas music along the course and participants get a swag bag with Santa hat and beard, holiday sweatshirt, and finisher medal. On top of best costume awards, the top three male and female finishers in each age category will be awarded custom medals, and the top three overall male and female finishers get personalized awards.

Written by Ann Gibson for RootsRated Media in partnership with Gaston County Gov.