Runners takeoff during the 2016 Princeton HealthCare System 5K. (Courtesy the PHCS Facebook page.)

Whether you’re a distance runner chasing a PR in a half marathon or a new runner looking to tackle your first race, there are plenty of fall races in our area to choose from.

The cooler temperatures and views of the fall foliage make autumn the perfect time of year for runners to take their training to the next level, and many local organizations are seizing the opportunity to host a race to raise money for their programs and charities.

This fall in the greater Mercer County area alone, there are two half marathons, 10-mile and 15K races, and 5Ks on just about every type of trail and terrain. Runners no longer have to travel far to complete their next big race.

The following races—listed in order by date—are being held in the Greater Mercer County area this fall. Visit official race websites to learn more about the courses and registration, and if you find one you like be sure to register early. Most races offer perks, like a free t-shirt or discounted registration fee, to those who sign up early.

1Tomm May Run
Saturday, Oct. 7

Robbinsville Township Facebook photo from the 2015 Tomm May Run.

The fall 2017 racing season begins with Robbinsville’s Tomm May Run on Saturday, Oct. 7. This race offers a little something for everyone—a 5-mile race for distance runners, a two-mile family walk and kids’ fun run, and a walk along the nature trail for those looking to simply take a stroll on a nice fall morning.

The races start and finish at Tantum Park—280 Meadowbrook Road, Robbinsville—and live entertainment and post-race food will be available for runners and walkers.

The registration fee is $25, and proceeds from the race benefit the upkeep of the Thomas J. May Nature Trail, named after the late Robbinsville resident who was dedicated to environmental causes. Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. and the races start at 10 a.m. To register, visit Robbinsville’s website.

25K for Families
Saturday, Oct. 7

UIH Family Partners Facebook race file photo

If you’re not quite ready to run 5 miles at the start of fall race season, a 5K will also be held the same day in Hamilton.

UIH Family Partners is hosting their annual 5K in Veterans Park—Kuser Road, Hamilton—at 9 a.m. The registration fee is $30 and benefits UIH Family Partners’ Fatherhood Programs, which equip and empower unemployed or under-employed fathers to play a more positive and active role in their children’s lives.

While the course in Veterans Park is ideal for serious runners looking to PR, families are encouraged to run this race together. Children ages 12 and younger can register for free now through Oct. 6, and the finish line will feature face painting, a DJ and other family-friendly activities. For more information, visit uihfamilypartners.org.

3Stephanie Berman 5K
Sunday, Oct. 8

Nearly 15 years after Hightstown High School student Stephanie Berman was killed in a car crash, her memory lives on through a 5K race organized in her name.

The 5K will be held Sunday, Oct. 8 at the high school, 25 Leshin Lane, Hightstown. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and runners will take their marks on the starting line at 10 a.m. The race costs $20, with proceeds benefiting the Hightstown After Prom Committee. Visit the race’s active.com page for more information.

4Princeton HealthCare System 5K
Sunday, Oct. 8

Facebook file photo from the 2016 race

Princeton HealthCare System is hosting their annual 5K on Sunday, Oct. 8 at Skillman Park on Main Boulevard in Skillman. The race begins at 9:15 a.m and costs $25. Proceeds benefit the Jim Craigie Center for Joint Replacement at University Medical Center of Princeton. A 1-mile fun walk will also be held at 9 a.m. in Skillman Park.

T-shirts are guaranteed to pre-registered runners, and prizes will be given to the top finishers. For more information, visit princetonhcs.org.

5Eden 5K and Fun Run/Walk
Sunday, Oct. 15

Photo from the 2016 race, courtesy the Eden Autism Facebook page.

The 5K is Eden Autism’s largest fundraising event of the year, and there is something offered for serious athletes, casual runners, and families alike.

Held at 2 Merwick Road in Princeton, this year’s festivities begin at 8 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 15. The 5K starts at 9 a.m. while a more relaxed fun run/walk begins at 9:45 a.m.

Music, family activities and a visit from Eden’s mascot Edgar the Hedgehog accompany runners at the finish line every year. While you can register as an individual runner, Eden encourages people to join a team to raise money for the organization’s autism programs and services. Some teams have already raised more than $10,000.

For more information about the Eden 5K, visit edenautism.org.

6Mountain Lakes Trail Run
Sunday, Oct. 15

A 2016 trail run file photo from the Princeton Athletic Club’s Facebook page.

Get off the beaten path and explore some wooded trails during Princeton Athletic Club’s Mountain Lakes Trail Run on Sunday, Oct. 15.

The roughly 3.5-mile course takes runners through more than a quarter mile of paved park trial, a mile unimproved service right-of-ways and more than two miles of single track in the woods. Moderately technical rocks, roots, logs, and other bits of nature may be along the wooded trail during this race.

The race will begin at Community Park North—1 Mountain Avenue, Princeton—at 9 a.m. Visit this race’s active.com page for additional information.

7Perfect 10 Miler
Sunday, Oct. 22

Courtesy the Perfect 10 Miler Facebook page

Hosted by CGI Racing, the Perfect 10 Miler is a women’s only race that encourages women to celebrate who they are inside and out.

This year’s Perfect 10 Miler is set to take place on Sunday, Oct. 22 at Mercer County Park. The 10-mile course takes runners out of the park down Old Trenton Road. Runners then cut through Mercer County Community College’s campus before heading back inside the park to cross the finish line.

All runners will receive a shirt, post-race snacks, and those who finish the course in the 2.5 hours or less will receive a finishers medal. A 1-mile daughter dash will also be held Saturday morning for girls ages 5 to 13 to discover their own passion for running.

The longer distance comes with a higher cost than the other races on this list. The registration fee is $80. For more information, visit motivrunning.com/perfect-10-miler.

8Trails 4 Tails
Sunday, Oct. 22

It’s a Ruff Life Rescue is hosting four different races to run with your four legged friends on Sunday, Oct. 22 in Washington Crossing Historic Park, 355 Washington Crossing-Pennington Road in Titusville.

Run a 5K with your dog, a 15K or the “double dog dare you” race, which allows runners to enter both the 5K and 15K races. Registration fees range from $30 to $70, and all proceeds benefit the It’s a Ruff Life Rescue, an all breed dog rescue center.

Check in for the races begins at 8 a.m. Stick around after the races and visit the Geeky Beer Gal Weyerbacher Brewing Beer Garden and visit booths to learn more about animal adoption.

For more information about the races, visit trails4tailsnjpa.org.

9Trenton Half Marathon
Saturday, Oct. 28

File photo from the Trenton Half Marathon Facebook page.

The Trenton Half Marathon takes runners on a 13.1-mile journey through Trenton and Pennsylvania before finishing strong down the third base line of Trenton Thunder’s ballpark. 10K and 5K runs are also available for anyone who isn’t ready to take on the half marathon distance.

Pace teams are available for the longer races to help runners hit a specific goal pace, and shirts, race packets and medals are just a few other perks offered to runners over the weekend.

For more information about the race, visit trentonhalf.com.

10Soles for the Harvest 5K
Saturday, Nov. 4

The Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey is hosting a 5K and 1-mile fun walk/walk on Sunday, Nov. 4 to benefit programs dedicated to alleviating hunger in New Jersey.

The race begins at 9:30 a.m. at Veterans Park’s Kuser Road entrance in Hamilton. The registration fee is $25, and awards will be given out to the top finishers. For more information, visit the race’s RunSignUp page.

11Meadows Miler
Saturday, Nov. 4

The Princeton Child Development Institute, an organization that provides lifelong services to people with autism, is hosting the Meadows Miler on Saturday, Nov. 4.

A 10K race, 5K trail run, and a 1-mile fun run will be held at Rosedale Park in Pennington. Participants get a T-shirt, and live music, food and other activities will be available to runners post-race.

For more information, visit pcdi.org/events/meadows-miler.

12Princeton Half Marathon
Sunday, Nov. 5

Runners enter the Princeton Battlefield off of Mercer Street (Courtesy the Princeton Half Facebook page.)

This year’s Princeton Half Marathon will be held at 7 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 5. The course takes runners past some of Princeton’s most historic sites—from the Princeton Battlefield to the university campus—but this race is known throughout the area for its challenging hilly course.

Registration is $150, and runners receive a shirt, race packet and finishers medal. For more information, visit princetonhalfmarathon.com.

13Looking ahead to Turkey Trots

Racers at the 2013 Mercer County Turkey Trot

While it can be hard to think about the holidays in early fall, there are three different Turkey Trots being held throughout our area this year.

Bordentown’s Turkey Trot kicks off the Thanksgiving running season with a race on Saturday, Nov. 18. The Trinity Turkey Trot will be held on Thanksgiving, Nov. 23, in Princeton. The Mercer County Turkey Trot is celebrating it’s 5th annual race this year with a race through Mercer County Park on Thanksgiving morning. Visit communitynews.org in early November for more details about these races.