As if exercise, charity and a free T-shirt weren’t incentive enough, run coordinators have added a whole new dimension of 5K-marathon-triathlon motivation: fun.
From encouraging participants to wear wild costumes, to spraying them with paint and having them trounce through mud, “fun runs” have gone crazy with themes and gimmicks — all in the name of fitness.
Tim Scrivner, president of Jailbreak Runs — a muddy race in which participants pretend they’re on the lam from police — says his company was inspired by some advice from a friend: “People won’t train to be healthy, but they’ll train for an event.”
He has found this to be true, he says, as evidenced by the countless testimonies he’s heard from first-time 5K “Jailbreakers.”
“Before the event, they weren’t thinking about running; they were excited about dressing up, doing the obstacles and having a good time,” Scrivner said.
When it’s over, they’re proud of what they accomplished and surprised by how much fun they had exercising, he said.
Glenn Decker and Charles Murphey, both Fort Worth residents, raced in their first 5K when they competed with friends in a local zombie-themed mud run in April.
While both run for exercise, neither had done any competitive event before.
“The zombie element made it more enticing,” said Murphey, who has since signed up to compete in a half marathon.
Murphey says that the fun atmosphere made it feel less like a boring run, as did the unique obstacle course and the fact that he was running from zombies attempting to steal his “life” — a flag.
“There’s a lot of wading through mud and obstacles,” he said. “Things that take you out of your comfort zone.”
Decker said he enjoyed the camaraderie the race offered.
“A big part of it was doing it with friends,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to get together and to take on a challenge together. It’s a really cool experience.”
Katie Langston, a spokesperson for Viral Events, which hosts Run or Dye (in which runners get showered in powdered dye along the course) and the Bad Prom Run (race in an old prom dress!), says she has found that the themed runs attract people who are finally getting off the couch and are looking for an opportunity — or an excuse — to get in shape for the first time.
“It gives people the motivation to do something they didn’t think they could do, and then it gives them the confidence to maybe try it again,” she says.
The races typically encourage entrants of all skill sets, from marathon veterans to first-time runners. Many support charitable causes. And most have Facebook pages so potential participants can spread the word and form teams.
Here’s a closer look at some of the zaniest, most colorful, muddiest mad dashes coming up in the area. Before you go, be sure to check the race websites for complete rules, packet pickup locations, discounts, deadlines and other useful information.
Neon Splash Dash
While most runs take place in the morning, this one takes place at night (gates open at 5:30 p.m.; race starts at 8 p.m.). Get ready to glow in the dark as you make your way through five kilometers of Glow Zones, where you’ll get doused with signature “glow water.” You’ll light up as you cross the finish line and head to a big “after-glow party.”
The Jailbreak DFW
Pretend you’re running from the law at the Jailbreak, an adventure run that covers 3.1 miles and 20 muddy obstacles for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. By race’s end, you’ll be muddy and ready to kick back with barbecue and a beer, and listen to the slate of bands scheduled.
This 5K is not for the color averse. You show up in all white, but by the time you’ve made it through the green, red, orange, pink and purple graffiti stations, you’ll be looking rainbow chic.
Run for your life at the Bio Hazard Zombie Run. You’ll start the race with three flags, or “lives,” that “infected zombies” along the course will attempt to steal from you as you weave in and out of obstacles along the way.
The Original Mud Run
Come clean and leave dirty. The Original Mud Run guarantees a messy good time with its crazy obstacle course, complete with a rope swing, tire mountain, log walk and other surprise challenges. Run for fun or for glory. There are two courses, a 5K with 18 obstacles, and a 10K with more than 30 obstacles.
Fort Worth Monster Dash 10K, 5K or Half Marathon
Runners stand out at the Monster Dash in their silly Halloween costumes. You’re sure to see superheroes of all capes alongside monsters, goblins and princesses.
Bad Prom 5K
Raid the thrift store — or your closet — and run your way through a maze of terribly cliché prom themes, from Under the Sea to Fairytale Romance. By the end, you’re sure to have perfected an impressive run-dance blend.
Run or Dye
Billed as the world’s most colorful 5K, the Run or Dye 5K brings a shower of paint for every kilometer completed. There’s no avoiding the color crew.
The Blacklight Run
You’re sure to shine, no matter your speed, at the Blacklight Run, where participants’ clean white shirts are transformed by neon powder that lights up the night in the blacklight zones and at the after-party.