Esplanade 5K Returns August 29

The eagerly awaited Esplanade 5K, which was held virtually last year due to the pandemic, will return to the park as an in-person footrace on Sunday, Aug. 29, kicking off at the DCR Hatch Memorial Shell at 9 a.m.

Runners of all levels and abilities are encouraged to participate in the footrace, which takes a riverfront route along the Charles and offers unparalleled water and garden views against the backdrops of both the Boston and Cambridge skylines. Proceeds from the event, which is again presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, go directly to support the work of the Esplanade Association to revitalize and enhance the park.

“We’re trying to faithfully bring back as many things in person as possible, and the 5K was a signature event that we’re happy to bring back, as well as one of our longest-running events,” said Michael Nichols, executive director of the Esplanade Association.

For the first time year, the Esplanade Association is planning a Community Day   to “wrap around” the 5K, said Nichols, with family-friendly events taking place throughout the park, including a Groundbeat concert, presented in partnership with BAMS (Boston Art & Music Soul) Fest, from noon to 4 p.m., at the Hatch Shell.

“BAMS Fest is overjoyed to partner with The Esplanade Association to curate the lineup for their annual GroundBeat series,” wrote Catherine T. Morris, founder and executive director of BAMS Fest. “Over the years, we have been fortunate to present over a dozen of local Black and Brown artists and bands. The Hatch Shell is a beautiful place and we are excited to bring a little magic and our culture to this space.”

A nonprofit dedicated to breaking down racial and social barriers in the arts across Greater Boston, BAMS Fest has previously partnered with the Esplanade Association on its award-winning “GroundBeat: The Esplanade’s Free Riverfront Music Series.”

Meanwhile, the Esplanade Association is encouraging runners to stop by their office at 575 Boylston St., Suite 4R, to pick up their bibs before the race in an effort to reduce long lines and unnecessary crowds on the day of the event.

Nichols expects participation will fall somewhere between– the 1,000 runners that the event typically drew in pre-pandemic times and 300 – the number that took part in last year’s virtual 5K.

Runners from three countries (the U.S., Brazil and India) and 13 states participated in last year’s virtual race, which took place from June 1 to 7, 2020. Within that timeframe, participants were allowed run or walk 5K (3.1 miles) anywhere in the world at their own pace.

This year, however, is a different story, with the footrace returning to its traditional format.

“There’s probably not time for it to sell out,” Nichols said Monday, “but for a variety of reasons, we wouldn’t mind a smaller event this year.”

With this in mind, safety measures will be in place for this year’s footrace, said Nichols, including taking steps to keep runners a safe distance apart from each other.

Order your bib for the footrace for $25 each (or $20 each for Esplanade Association members, or a bib and one-year membership to the Esplanade Association for $40) at

To register a team for your group or company, contact Samuel Englert at [email protected].

If you are interested in volunteering for the event, email Christine Francois at [email protected].

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