Once upon a time, your average 5k, 10k or marathon was a monotonous affair. We all just jogged around our local cities, hoping our walkman’s AA batteries didn’t crap out before we did. Yes, I said walkman. Thankfully, time has been kind to the running industry and there are now numerous themed runs out there.
Whether you’re into Sci-Fi, zombies, or just want to have a lot of fun getting from A to B, there’s a race out there with your name on it. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on runs taking place in the US and Canada, but if you’re outside these areas you might find that similar runs exist closer to home too. Here, in no particular order, are our ten favorite race themes:
1. Zombies! There are a lot of zombie runs out there. Then again, even if you’re a seasoned runner the zompocalypse is basically the single most important thing you’re training for. The Zombie Run and Zombie Race both tour from city to city in the US, so there’s a chance you can suffer through more than one zombie uprising per year. Yay!
2. Hipsters! Nearly as terrifying as the hordes of undead, these mustachioed menaces are seemingly everywhere. Don a ‘stache of your own, a costume of your choosing, and join in on the Movember-based fun that is The Mustache Dache.
3. Christmas! Nothing make me think of running so much as the onset of cold weather and caroling. Also, I prefer to run through the banks of snow in my skivvies. If those last two sentences had no hint of sarcasm when you read them, then Boston’s Santa Speedo Run is for you. Skew a little more traditional during the holidays? Check out Cleveland’s A Christmas Story Run.
4. Wipeout! If you’ve ever wanted to take on the nigh-cartoonish obstacles of TV’s Wipeout, then this is the race for you. Avoid sweeper arms and wrecking balls on your way to the end of this 5K course that tours the US and Canada.
5. Post-apocalypse! In Armageddon Ambush, the world has ended, and the only thing left to do is run, crawl, and climb your way to safety. If you fancy a little more warrior mentality in your personal apocalypse, sign up for one of the numerous Spartan races across the US.
6. Ninja Warrior! Savage Race is basically Ninja Warrior with a cooperative twist. Everyone who runs this 6 mile course is in it together. That’s because conquering the 25 intense obstacles all alone is insane, and everybody loves a helping hand when faced with yet another massive wall.
7. Foam! There’s something about bubbles that make everything better. Both Canada’s 5K Foam Fest and the US-based Foam Glow 5K are based around having fun rather than finish times. You’ll also wind up a tiny bit cleaner than you would after any of this list’s other entries.
8. Disney! Disney owns basically everything and generally-speaking spares no expense on its events. Whether you’re looking to run a half marathon as Moon Knight or Bossk, RunDisney has you covered. If Star Wars and The Avengers aren’t quite your speed, there’s plenty of traditional Disney fare too, like the Expedition Everest Challenge, the Tinkerbell half-marathon or the Princess half-marathon.
9. Harry Potter! On August 1st, residents of West Jordan, Utah celebrate Harry Potter Day by dressing up and gallivanting around the park as part of a charity 5k. The Potter Run looks like a ton of fun, and we’d love to see more of its kind popping up everywhere.
10. Monsters! Ok, ok so neither of the people pictured in the image above are dressed as monsters… unless that guy’s dressed as Damian Wayne. I do not like that kid. Either way, the Minnesota Monster Dash is a great reason to get a little cosplay into your run. The race takes place on Halloween and it looks like just about everybody dresses up. Awesome!
BONUS Iditarod! If you’re looking for a team racing event, then you could do a lot worse than Boston’s Urban Iditorod (Idiotorama?), which casts costumed teams as bipedal dog teams competing against one another as they push a shopping cart around the city in search of donations for a canned food drive. There’s also a pub crawl element, a talent contest, and games. Mush!
There are tons more themed runs out there, so if you’ve got a favorite that we didn’t mention then spread the word in the comments below!