Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Quirky Race Ideas

The age of the run-of-the-mill 5k is over. Finished. Stick a fork in it. Its done. With more than twenty 5k’s yearly in Bradford County alone, the market has been oversaturated.

All across America, quirky races are in style now.

Here are some (currently popular) quirky race ideas to help you get runners (and more importantly - everybody else) out of their beds and into the streets on Saturday morning to support your charitable cause.... while having loads of fun in the process.


Eat n Run
Whether its dozens of glazed Krispy Creme doughnuts, two liter bottles of coke, or even cans of beer, races involving the consumption of food are big right now. The rules eat at every aid stop along the course, or after every lap of the track, and try not to vomit. The first runner to cross the finish line wins? Maybe not. Award time deductions to runners for each foot item they eat or drink. Get local grocery stores, restaurants, bakeries and pubs involved by having them donate food and drink, or host aid stops along the course. Example

Music Runs
The most popular version of the “Music Run” is the “Beat Beethoven 5k” where runners are challenged to complete the course before the music stops. In this case that means in under 33 minutes, which happens to be the length of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. But you could adapt this idea to virtually any distance and any composition or recording by any artist.

Color Runs
For these runs competitors wear white and race volunteers bombard them with colored corn starch along the course. The goal? Finish looking like the rainbow! Example

Glow in the Dark Runs
These increasingly popular nighttime events feature black lights, and runners decked out in whatever glows in the dark. Example

Zombie Runs
It’s the end of the world. Courtesy of the local school’s art department the dead have invaded your race course in full makeup. What are you going to do about it? Run for your life of course. A zombie run can be held practically anywhere, but the concept works best on trails or closed streets which you can dress up the route with the obstacles of the post-apocalyptic world. Example

Water Runs
Herickville Wesleyan Church beat you to the punch on this one I’m afraid, but the Herickville Water Run’s wet and wild course of sprinklers, fire hoses and giant slip-n-slides warrants mention here. Run and cool off at the same time. What’s not to like? Example

Mud / Obstacle Course Runs
Corporate owned military “boot camp” inspired races are all the rage right now, but why should these over priced out of town events have all the fun? Bring the mud home to the Twin Tiers by putting on your own obstacle course event. Example


But why stop there. Perhaps you are looking for less gimmick and more substance? Here are some more “traditional” ideas currently finding success elsewhere, but which happen to be absent from the local scene.

Vertically Challenged?
Who ever said that races had to be flat? Make your event a challenge. Pick the biggest hill you can find and make runners sprint to the top or bomb to the bottom. Example

Timed Runs
Most races cover a specific distance, but all over the world there is another class of event that is governed by time. Choose a track or a closed loop of road or trail, choose a total allotment of time, and let runners challenge themselves to cover as much (running and walking) distance as they can before the clock runs out. 6, 8, 12, 24, 48, 72 hour races are most common, but you can choose any amount of time you like. For the longest races runners often stop to sleep. Runners can bow out anytime they like with no commitment to stay for the entire duration. The idea is to challenge yourself to cover a new distance, no matter how big or small that distance might be. Example

Trail Runs (any distance)
One of the fastest growing segments of the running community over the last decade has been trail running. The local trails at Round Top, Waverly Glen, Litchfield Elementary, Newtown Battlefield, as well as our state forest lands are currently still under utilized for races even as the number of local runners who have come to enjoy trail running continues to grow. Example 

Long Distance Relay
Big tasks are easier with a team of friends, family or coworkers. Put on a relay race spanning just a few miles of local streets or covering the entire township or even county. Example

Uncommon Distances
Nobody ever said that all small town races had to be 5k or 10k in length. Uncommon distances are starting to become… well… more common. 1 mile, 3k, 8k, 12k, 15k - 5M, 10M - you name it. Give runners the opportunity to challenge themselves at a variety of distances. Example

Point to Point
A race need not be a precise distance. In a point to point race the route determines the distance.  

RELATED ARTICLE: The Valley Distance Run?