The other day, I received a Groupon email for something called the “Ugly Sweater Run”. It is a 5K fun-run* where participants are encouraged to wear their ugly Christmas sweaters and “gaudiest holiday finery”.
Running 3.1 miles in a sweater may not sound like much fun, but consider that the run will be held in mid-December. In Nebraska. Outside. But on the plus side, (and I kid you not), there are hot chocolate stands every mile.
*Let me just take a moment to clarify something. I do not consider running distances greater than a half mile to be “fun”. Frankly, if you consider running multiple miles is “fun”, I think you’re “nuts”.
I’ve done a 5K and couple 2 mile “fun runs”, but I did not find them very amusing. The only pleasure I took from those runs was from seeing how happy they made my wife (yeah, she’s one of them, but I love her dearly).
I understand running to stay in shape or to train for an athletic event, but I am not wired to find pleasure in running.
The Ugly Sweater Run is just the latest in the current craze of runs with quirky themes (“come run while we throw colored chalk in your face!”), extreme obstacle courses (“the last two miles are nothing but mud and barbed wire!”), or events where the running is secondary to some other activity (“chug a beer at every checkpoint!”).
While you might think that the organizers of the Ugly Sweater Run are scraping the bottom of the idea barrel, you’d be surprised to see what run ideas they passed on:
- Extreme Color Run – Volunteers with paint ball guns are positioned around the course.
- Couch Potato Run – Contestants complete a 5K while dragging their sofa or recliner behind them.
- Literal 5K – Runners are issued a random book at the beginning of the race – anything from The Hungry Caterpillar to War and Peace. Read as you run, but you must finish the book before you complete the course.
- 5K: Literally – Held indoors, the course is cooled to 5 degrees Kelvin (approximately -450 degrees Fahrenheit). Dress warmly!
- Man vs 5K – Inspired by the Travel Channel show Man v. Food, runners must consume 5 kg of food over the length of the course.
- Social Media Mile – Runners must complete a set number of tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram selfies. Progress on the course will be tracked by the use of Foursquare check-ins.
- 5Keg – Teams must push a pony keg of beer along the course, emptying said keg by the completion of the race.
- First & 10K – Runners are given a football, which they must carry throughout the course before crossing the “goal line” at the end. Players from local high school and college teams will be sprinkled throughout the course to tackle ball carriers.
- Nickelodeon Slime Run – A 5K version of the old Double Dare obstacle course. Nick’s signature green slime will be sprayed via fire hose if runners cannot answer random trivia questions.
- I Would Walk 500 Miles – Not a run, but an endurance test for body and mind. You walk 500 miles while your iPod plays nothing but The Proclaimers’ hit song I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).
- Terminal Velocity Run – In this strictly timed event, runners must get from gate B 2 to gate F 47 in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (approximately 3.1 miles) in under 20 minutes while toting either a small child or an over-sized carry on with a wobbly wheel.
- Fore! K – Held on a golf course, runners must tee off, run to the ball, and hit is as quickly as possible. Then run to the ball, and hit it again. And so on, until they reach the hole – 2.48 miles away. Lowest score wins.
- Green Eggs and Run – In this Dr. Seuss themed race, contestants must run over and through various obstacles including a house, mouse, box, fox, car, tree, train, dark, rain, boat, and of course, a goat.
- Red Light/Green Light Run – Speakers are set up along the course and a race leader yells “RED LIGHT” and “GREEN LIGHT” to start and stop the runners. If you mess up, you go back to the beginning of the course.
- Comedy Central’s Fun Run – In this all-star charity event, the entire 5K course is lined with comedians both famous and obscure. Slow runners in the last pack will be trailed by Greg Giraldo and Lisa Lampanelli, who pelt your with insults about your weight and sexuality.
- Virtual 5K – Download the Virtual 5K app (available for Apple and Android!), sign in and upload a picture. The app will post statuses and pictures to your Facebook account to make it appear as if you ran a 5K. Meanwhile, you sit at home in your underpants eating cookie dough right out of the tube.
- Ice Dash – Held at the local ice skating rink, runners go out on the ice in regular running shoes and compete to finish 500 laps first. Think roller derby on ice.
- 50 Shades of 5K – If you’ve read the book, you can imagine some of the…um…obstacles within this event. Consenting adults only.