Where can you find pits of sloshing mud, explosions of colorful powder, streams of bubbling foam and maybe even a zombie or two?

Most people wouldn't answer along their weekend workout. But for many, the popularity of themed 5K runs and obstacle courses is a powerful draw. In addition to the physical challenges, for some people the events are an opportunity to socialize with friends and build bonds.

Team-building: "It's about camaraderie," said Rachael Bell, a runner from Boiling Springs. "A standard 5K is something I have set out to do for myself as a goal. Doing these events are more relative to enjoying an event with friends, family, or even coworkers."

Bell said she started running to get in shape. Naturally a competitive person, she said she enjoyed doing trail runs, mud runs and is preparing for The Color Run in May in Hershey.

The event, known as "The happiest 5K on the planet," is an untimed race where thousands of participants are doused with packets of colored powder, saturating their skin, hair and clothes with bright hues. Registration for the Hershey race sold out quickly. The Color Run organziation added a second date due to the popularity of the event, which also sold out.

"These events sell out more frequently and have a higher number of participants," Bell said. "They promote a social atmosphere that's a 'This is fun!' mentality over the typical 'Ugh, I have to run,' mentality."

Giving back: Another benefit of the races, Bell said, is that they're frequently fundraisers for organziations and social causes.

Yorkers will have an opportunity to participate in the YWCA York's take on a colorful race that will also benefit the organziation's racial justice programs, the 2014 Race Against Racism.

Runners will have the option of competing in a timed race beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 26, outside the YWCA York, in downtown York, or an un-timed run/walk beginning at 9:30 a.m. that features the new "Splash of Color" race. Similar to events such as The Color Run, participants will be drenched in bursts of color along the course.

'Wear white': "Wear white. We'll give you a new white t-shirt with a cool Race Against Racism logo on it. Pair that with white leggings, shorts, your old wedding gown, whatever! Then you walk, run, dance down the street and get regularly blasted with (safe!) colored powder. You end up a gorgeous rainbow from head to toe," according to race organizers.

This year's event also includes Humanity Fest, featuring multi-cultural vendors, food, entertainment and crafts for the community. FoodStruck food trucks will help everyone fuel up following the race.

Despite the "less serious" nature of these events, Bell warns participants should still prepare.

"You need to at least be mildly active [to complete a 5K]," she said. "You could risk injury or fatigue otherwise."

She credits doing a couch-to-5K training program with helping her to prepare, and walking daily on her lunch break. Walking a little each day is an easy way to prepare for walking an un-timed event, such as the Race Against Racism

"There's a sense of accomplishment. You get to help out great programs that rely on fundraising," Bell said. "And they're a lot of fun."

- Amy Peiffer is an avid walker who will be wearing her cleanest whites for the 2014 Race Against Racism. Reach her at apeiffer@yorkdispatch.com.

Zombies, mud and foam, oh my!

The 2014 Race Against Racism & Humanity Fest will add "A Splash of Color" untimed 5K for walkers and runners this year that kicks off at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 26, outside the YWCA York, 320 E. Market St., York. The timed race will begin at 9 a.m. Registration: Individuals age 15 and older are $25, teams age 15 and older are $20, and individual or teams age 14 and younger are $10. Information: www.rar2014.kintera.org.

Tackle more than 15 obstacles and eight mental challenges over more than 6 miles of rugged terrain during CerebRun, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 12, at Grimmel Farms, 199 Cold Cabin Road, Delta.  Billed as York County's toughest running event, CerebRun features multiple routes to the finish line that test both mental and physical agility. Registration is limited to individuals ages 14 and over. Registration: $65-$80. Information: www.cerebrun.com.

Maneuver through 3.1 miles of mud, blood and brains as a horde of more than 700 ravenous "zombies" chase after you during The Zombie Run: Black Ops, with two waves kicking off at 9 a.m., and a nighttime obstacle course kicking off at 8:30 p.m., Saturday, April 26, at High Point Farms, 23730 Frederick Road, Clarksburg, Md. Registration: $85-$150. Information: http://thezombierun.com/location/baltimore.

Slip and slide through the obstacles along the 5K Foam Fest, starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, July 12, at Wicomico Motor Sports Park, 11100 Kingston Place, Charlotte Hall, Md. Foam, mud and water will douse runners as they complete between 15-30 obstacles along the course. Registration: $75-$90. Information: http://5kfoamfest.com/Location/Index/41.