Running a race used to be a straightforward endeavor. You trained, set a goal, showed up to the event, put on your running shoes, and ran as fast as you could to reach the finish line to meet your goal.
But nowadays a new crop of races is taking the running industry by storm: themed races.
These events aren’t about running fast and meeting goals – heck, some of them aren’t even timed. Rather they’re about the journey. And, it’s a fun journey at that. One where you can be chased by zombies, doused with colored powders, glowing in the dark, or crawling through mud.
Themed races are drawing a whole new group of people to the sport – most participants are beginner runners and racing novices. Since themed races are usually short distances (most are around 5 kilometers or 5k) and meant to be “fun runs”, they take the intimidation factor out of running. They appeal to average Joes. Someone who may never have considered running may see an ad for a themed race, be intrigued, get off the couch and start training for the event.
That’s exactly what’s happening all across the country. The Color Run, a 5k race in which runners are sprayed with non-toxic, colored powder – held its inaugural event in January 2012. Within its first year, it spread to 50 U.S. cities and had 600,000 participants. This year, the Color Run will hold events in 120 U.S. cities and 30 countries and surpass the 1 million mark in participants.
Here’s the scoop on some of the most popular themed race series:
· The Color Run. If starting a race in a plain white outfit and finishing looking like a rainbow appeals to you, check out the Color Run. Race directors say, “the Color Run is a five-kilometer, un-timed race in which thousands of participants are doused from head to toe in different colors at each kilometer.”
· The Zombie Run. Do you only run when being chased? If so, check out the Zombie Run. In this race, zombies literally jump out, scare you and hunt you down. The race organizers say, “Zombie Run is a 5K obstacle fun run for the end of times. But you’re not just running against the clock, you are running from flesh-eating, virus-spreading, bloody zombies.” Yikes!
· The Rave Run. This race is held in the dark, but runners literally glow – because they deck themselves out in glow necklaces and bracelets. The race creators say, “The Rave Run is a night time 2.5-3.1 mile fun run where runners, artists and insomniacs unite. Experience a journey through a nocturnal wonderland with stunning lights and music.”
· Spartan Race. If you crave physical obstacles during your race, the Spartan Race series is for you. Spartan is the ultimate obstacle racing challenge. You can choose from a 3-, 8-, or 12-mile race course, each chockfull of crazy obstacles like fire, mud, barbed wire and “Hell on Earth.” From the Spartan Race directors, “we’re here to rip you from your comfort zone. If you need a road map for each step of the way, then maybe this race isn’t for you.”
Have you ever run a themed race? Are you interested in participating in one?