A road race is one of the few athletic events that attracts a wide range of participants, from the running novice to the seasoned racer, to the senior citizen to the springy 20-something. Road races provide an exercise environment that can motivate a runner regardless of his or her experience, and makes running enjoyable and effective through a communal, shared experience.
Motivation to Work Out
Some people naturally love the feeling of working out and some use it as a means to an end, such as weight loss or muscle gain. Even if you're part of the former group, you may need motivation to actually get yourself up and running or to the gym. A road race is an excellent end point that will give you the reasons to run and work out, when you would otherwise find excuses not to. Knowing you need to run a certain distance in public in a few months or weeks will prevent you from consistently telling yourself that you're too tired or too busy to work out. Getting yourself in shape for a road race gives you the cardiovascular exercise needed to keep your heart healthy, and helps burn the calories necessary for weight loss.
Use the Competition
You may not be capable of winning or even placing in a road race, but the event can still offer plenty of opportunity to push yourself through competition. Set a goal for what time you want to finish the race in, and strive for that while running. If you run subsequent races, you can make a goal to beat your previous best time. Use the timers at each mile marker to push yourself to run the next mile faster than you ran the previous one. Even if you don't know the people running next to you in the race, look to them as a source of competition. Find people who look like they are running at a pace that matches yours comfortably, then try to stay slightly ahead of them throughout the race. As the finish line comes in sight, use the last bit of energy you have to blow past everyone around you.
A Unique Environment
Many people complain of the boredom that comes with running multiple miles on a treadmill or on a track, but road races bring group support and interesting courses to prevent that. The large crowd that's cheering on road racers throughout the event brings the excitement needed to keep on running, even when you're tired and would otherwise stop if you were on your own. Many road race courses also give you a unique track to run through your city or town, and can provide great inspiration for routes to take on future runs of your own.