Real runs, no gimmicks


There: I said it. Well: typed it. Whatever.

It’s not a new stance in my life, but it’s one I’ve not really broadcasted outside of a couple people.

I don’t know how bonafide, actual “real runners” perceive these sorts of events, but as someone who runs with the intent of trying to do well and improving my running ability, these gimmick races — The Color Run, Electric Run, zombie runs, etc. — rub me the wrong way.

On one hand, I can see how these gimmick runs might draw people into running and fitness, which is theoretically awesome, but in reality I’m not sure they’re actually a gateway into actually getting in shape. Sure, they can keep you off the couch for a little while every time they come around, but the few people I know who participate in these kinds of races participate in ONLY these kinds of races.

I’ve never heard any stories from anyone saying, “Ever since I completed my first Color Run, I’ve just been salivating at the thought of qualifying for Boston!”

There’s one particular guy I know from college who, along with his wife, runs in these things. Does he run any other kinds of more serious races? Not according to Facebook. According to Facebook (or, at least what I can remember of what he posted), he ran in three 5Ks last year: The Color Run, an Electric Run, and an ugly Christmas sweater 5K. All gimmick races. And, with the possible exception of the ugly Christmas sweater run, none of those are timed.

I have a firm rule about races: if it’s not timed, I’m not interested. Because if there’s no timer, I’m not likely to push myself as hard. And then, what’s the point?

To be fair, that guy from college and his wife look really happy in their pictures at their gimmick races. So maybe that’s all that matters?

There was once a time when I may have been intrigued by the possibility of, and potentially interested in, participating in a gimmick race.

That time has passed me by.

When running in a race was new to me, before I ever felt I had done well and been excited about my performance, I have no doubt I would’ve enjoyed nothing more than to choke on the dust from paint powder pellets being thrown in my face. Or to crash into neon-lit party rockers stopping for a dance break in the middle of a straightaway. And, of course, to get tackled to the ground and fake bitten by an overzealous volunteer dressed as a zombie.


Well, they would’ve been good times, that is, if the rush of adrenaline I get from the act of racing weren’t enough to keep me content.

Darn racing! Gets in the way of all the fun!

Maybe someday I’ll stop caring about pushing myself to do well, trying to be in good shape, and running for the sake of running. Maybe THEN will be the day I can enjoy ruining a good pair of running shoes with paint splatters, dancing to some crappy dubstep between a few jogs, or indulging in my ‘Walking Dead’ fantasies.

That day may be a while, though.


  1. you are not alone. I LOATHE those runs. I have friends who invite me to do that crap all the time and I always say no and they don’t get it but it’s because I am competitive and they are not. they do these things and WALK for Christ’s sake! they WALK during a RACE! who does that?!? I will kill myself trying to go as fast as I possibly can no matter the distance no matter the race… otherwise… what’s the point? I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the obvious fact that I WILL have to walk during my upcoming 50K so we’ll see how that goes…

    1. Yeah, walking during a race? No way. Well, there’s probably no shame doing it in a 50K. I walked once during one of my first ever 5Ks. I’m still angry about it. I have read stuff, though, about how a quick walk break may help you finish w/ a better time after going too fast & burning yourself out. I’d just rather work on my pacing so I can run well the whole time.

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