A nonstandard distance, the Lake Johanna 4 Mile is a fun race on a reasonably challenging course. With the hills and the nonstandard distance, picking a pace to run consistently is a nice challenge in and of itself.
This is one of the several free races included with a membership in the Minnesota Distance Running Association (MDRA). Like the other races, I think this race alone is worth the MDRA membership, which also includes a bimonthly magazine, discounts at several local running stores, and discounts to several other races. To join MDRA, go to: Join MDRA.
Cost: Free for MDRA members.
Gear and food: This race is a low-key event--no finisher shirts or medals--but there are cookies at the end.
Weather: The years I've run this race the weather has been perfect, but like every spring Minnesota race, the weather can be unpredictable.
Course: I really enjoy the course--rolling hills around Lake Johanna. The hills make it a challenging course, but not overly so.
Crowd support: There'll be a decent amount of people at the start and finish.
If you're looking for a low-key and challenging early season race, the Lake Johanna 4 Mile is a good one.