Maybe the average, garden-variety 5K just doesn’t do it for you anymore.
Maybe you want to crawl through the mud, climb some stairs, lift some weights, work with a team, flee from bloodthirsty zombies or get shot with water guns. And maybe you want to be wearing long johns, a tutu, glow sticks, a Halloween costume or a Santa hat and a Speedo while you do it.
Fret not. Central Ohio’s got you covered. Alongside the region’s sizable complement of standard runs and walks is an impressive collection of novelty runs that offer a wealth of unorthodox athletic experiences.
Mud and Moxie
Mud runs and obstacle runs are rapidly gaining popularity among audiences who aren’t afraid to get a little bruised, scratched and dirty.
Among these is the second annual Dirty Duathlon, a Greenswell-organized jaunt slated for May 19 along the Winterhawk Bridle Trail at Alum Creek State Park in Delaware. Two distances are available for dirt-defying daredevils, each starting with a 2-mile trail run. One is followed by a 12-mile bike ride and another 2-mile trail run, the other by a 22-mile bike ride and a 6.2-mile trail run.
“These trails are essentially unmanicured – there’s creek crossings, there’s mud, there’s logs, there’s ravines,” says Greenswell founder Craig Thompson.
Having to run twice presents a challenge, as, of course, do the various obstacles. But for a properly prepared participant, those elements add an element of fun to the run, Thompson says.
“It would attract the type of person who is looking to maintain their fitness, but do so in a fun social environment,” he says.
The Dirty Duathlon is part of the TriFit Challenge Series with proceeds going to The Ohio State University Ross Heart Hospital. More information is available at www.greenswell.com.
Enthusiasm for Endurance
One person can run a 5K, but for a 105-mile race, it takes a whole team.
That’s the name of the game at the Relay Around Columbus, now in its second year, which takes place June 22-23. Participants up for the long-term trek have four options: the six-person, 105-mile Runner Relay; the six-person, 70-mile Walker Relay; the six-person, 70-mile High School (running) Relay; and the three-person, 105-mile Ultra Runner Relay. Each team’s trip is divided up into legs to give participants time to rest between runs, with other team members following in vehicles to relieve their allies at the end of a leg, which range from 11.7 miles to 17.5 miles, depending on the relay.
“You’re in a van with, if not five of your closest friends, people who will become your closest friends,” says Scott Weaver, who co-organizes the relay with his wife, Monica Sencio.
Endurance is the key to success in the Relay; all participants are advised to be in condition to run a half-marathon, says Weaver. The 13-21 hour run begins at Westerville’s Hoover Dam Park and ends at Bicentennial Park in downtown Columbus, and the only goal is to finish; there is no official winner.
“If somebody wants a trophy, bring a trophy at the start and we’ll give it back to you at the end,” Weaver jokes.
Learn more at www.relayaroundcolumbus.com.
Pump Up the Jam
A lot of people work both running and weightlifting into their workout regimens, so why not combine the two into a single race?
“Pump and runs” challenge participants to run a 5K after bench-pressing a weight calculated according to their own weight – and the more bench presses the runner completes beforehand, the more time is chopped off his or her final race time. The Lifting Hopes 5K Pump and Run, set for Oct. 13, takes place right here in New Albany at New Albany Middle School for the fourth year.
Lifting Hopes benefits Chapel Hill House, a weekend retreat in Prospect, Ohio, for children with cancer and their families. Co-chairmen Mike Morgan and Bill Balderaz had both participated in the Arnold 5K Pump and Run and thought the unique event would attract support, Balderaz says.
From a fitness standpoint, pump and run events suit the well-balanced athlete, Balderaz says. A mix of speed, endurance, upper-body strength and lower-body strength is needed to do well.
“If you’re solely focused on just being very strong or very fast, you’re not as well balanced as people who are doing both,” he says.
Information on Lifting Hopes is available at www.liftinghopes.com.
Dash of the Departed
Technically, there’s no athletic benefit to running in costume – but a little extra motivation to get out and about never hurt anyone.
Outfit-themed runs abound in central Ohio, but few establish a level of creativity comparable to that of the Celebrity Ghosts 5K, organized by the Westerville Visitors & Convention Bureau and the Columbus Running Company. This year’s race, the fourth annual, takes place Oct. 25 in Uptown Westerville as part of the Midnight Madness Halloween shopping event.
The rules are simple: Dress yourself up as a famous person who’s shuffled off this mortal coil and get moving. A costume isn’t required, but the percentage of dolled-up deceased increases every year, and so does the amount of effort put into the costumes.
“The range (has been) incredible,” says Jeff Hartnell, executive director of the Visitors and Convention Bureau. “You have everything from Abraham Lincoln to Michael Jackson.”
Not only does the Celebrity Ghosts 5K provide an extra reason to participate in a running or walking event, it’s been a boon for Uptown businesses and helps get the area into the Halloween spirit, Hartnell says.
Garth Bishop is a contributing editor. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Novelty Races
Participants start in white T-shirts and end the race covered in blotches of color – typically corn starch dyed with food coloring. Volunteers throw color at runners and walkers at certain checkpoints along the way.
- Color Mania 5K Columbus, Ohio Expo Center, Columbus, $40 solo, June 8www.colormania.com
- Columbus Color Palooza, Genoa Park, Columbus, $55 solo/$50 team, June 22,www.columbuscolorpalooza.com
- The Color Run Columbus, McFerson Commons, Columbus, $50 solo/$45 team, July 20www.thecolorrun.com/columbus
Solve clues and complete tasks to find the next checkpoint and move forward during these crazy races.