Wow. The running scene has really taken on a new look the last year or so. Weekend race options are much more varied than before. While true timed foot races will always have their place, themed runs have given rise and along with them a whole new crop of participants who have traded their couches to cover some miles.
Several series of color races have painted the nation a rainbow in the name of fitness. Essentially they are all about the same. You start the race in white clothes and finish doused in color. The major contenders that are seeing tremendous attendance numbers are The Color Run, Gnarly Neon 5K, and Color Me Rad. All are 5Ks that seem to attract people who are new or novice runners. Who knew getting covered in colored powder was such a motivator?
Speaking of color, another theme that seems to get people to the starting line is the glow of night. The Glow Run and the Color Me Rad Night Series are a few of the big names that are keeping runners out past their bedtimes as they run through a glow-in-the-dark course. The Glow Run series uses black lights throughout the course and encourages participants to wear glowsticks and bright colors. Color Me Rad Night Run Series gets a bit wilder and participants use glow-in-the dark paint and finger lasers to really get their glow on. Both races are 5Ks that are seeing huge turnouts.
It seems another group of runners only like to run if they’re being chased. The rise of Zombie Runs has really boomed this year, too, with all the apocalyptic hoopla. One of the most popular series is the Run For Your Lives race. Runners have to make it through a race and obstacle course without losing their flags to the herds of zombies. In addition to the walking dead, other obstacles include blood pits, smoke houses, and mazes. It may seem like an odd way to spend a Saturday morning, but running from the dead is always way healthier than sitting at home watching Saturday morning cartoons.
Tough and Dirty Runs
For those who don’t need to be chased, but want to get messy and work hard, there are so many mud and obstacle runs to choose from. One of the oldest series is the Warrior Dash, a 5K covered with mud and obstacles; oh and generally, flames. Another contender in this arena is the newer series Hard Charge. This race is longer (4-6 miles) making room for more obstacles; oh, and there’s still lots of mud. Finally, the others were just not tough enough for some, so there’s Tough Mudder. This one is a 10-12 mile obstacle course with challenges designed by the British Special Forces. All are designed to challenge a racer in new ways. Oh, and get very, very muddy. To train, check out Your Guide to Ultimate Obstacle Race Training.
A new kid on the block this summer seems to fit the bill for those who want a challenge, are okay with getting muddy, but would like to also get clean. The 5K Foam Fest or Pretty Muddy series may be the perfect mix of mud and soap. Foam Fest offers obstacles similar to the other mud races, yet throwing in the new element of unbelievable amounts of foam. Additionally, there are inflatables that bring a lighter touch while still a challenging aspect to the event. Likewise, Pretty Muddy focuses mostly on the muddy with some super soapy obstacles in the mix.
I’ve got nothing but love for a fast 5k race course. But I also understand that that type of exercise isn’t everyone’s cup of Gatorade. It’s been great to see so many people step out of their comfort zones and sign up for these theme races. Exercise is exercise, even if it’s done with mud, color, or foam on your face.
images via DietsInReview, urbanapocalypsenow, Mike Bohn, Pretty Muddy