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On Occasion, Let Your Inner Superhero Shine

Posted by on Mar 20, 2012 | 12 Comments

This last weekend, Shelly and I ran the Rodeo Valley 50k.  It was a “roadtrip” race for us, meaning it would involve traveling and hanging out with our friends Pablo and his wife Kristina, Krista, Jon, Vanessa, and Shacky.  We knew we’d be doing plenty of laughing and probably a fair amount of drinking, so we decided to make the race itself a little more fun.

We ran it in superhero costumes. [photo courtesy Shacky]

I’m not quite sure where the idea came from, but once planted, we knew we had to do it.  The costumes themselves took awhile to plan.  Note- it’s hard to find costumes outside of the Halloween season.  Luckily Party City stocks costumes all year.  The beer and wine theme seemed appropriate given we were running an ultra.

The actual race itself was uneventful.  The course featured some pretty good climbs and descents mixed with awesome views of the Pacific Ocean, Golden Gate Bridge, San Fransisco, and the rest of the Headlands/Bay Area. Everybody did great despite quite a few setbacks, but we had a great time.

The reaction from others was fascinating.  Some people cheered and took pictures.  Other people were visibly uncomfortable and didn’t know quite how to react.  A few people openly scorned us.  It was clear they were offended we weren’t taking the race as seriously as they believed we should.

The non-race hikers, runners, and cyclists we met had the same range of reactions.  For me, the highlight was getting asked to pose for a picture with some Japanese tourists.  What can I say, I’m easily entertained.

The experience was resoundingly positive and I’m eagerly looking forward to the next “costume” race.  The actual costume choice will change as the blue morph suit I was wearing took about four minutes to remove to go to the bathroom.  My strategy of drinking very little throughout the first half of the race worked well as I only had to go once.  The minimal dehydration didn’t dramatically alter my performance.  The experience was so positive, I’m considering doing it for one of my “A” races later this year.

What do you think of costumes and racing?  Have you done it before?  Would you try it yourself if you haven’t?



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  1. emily
    March 22, 2012

    we have a local guy who dresses up for EVERY race. We are always wondering what he’s going to wear for the next race.

    For our Jingle Bell Run for arthritis (usually the first Sunday in November) he has dressed up as a 10 foot north pole pole and the year after that, a 10 foot (roughly) tall stack of presents.

    For the St. Patrick’s day 5K, it was a cardboard shamrock.

  2. John
    March 21, 2012

    I have not had the balls to do a costume race yet, but last fall while doing my first ultra at DWD in Hell, MI I was passed by a dude late in the race wearing ONLY fishnet stockings and a carefully located piece of duct tape to cover his a$$! I did not see what, if anything, was covering the front! I was impressed, he was fast!

  3. Chris
    March 21, 2012

    I organised a St Patricks Day themed race on Saturday. The Theme was Green! Quite a few people wear green but just T Shirts and stuff. I wanted it to be more of a fancy dress situation. Think people probably find it hard enough to run without the added difficulty of picking their green neon leopard skin tights out of their arse.

  4. Ben
    March 21, 2012

    Cool to see to out there. I’ve read your blog for a while and thought I recognized you in the costume. Glad you had fun. It was a great event and a beautiful place. I thought the costumes were a treat.

  5. Jesse
    March 21, 2012

    As you know, I was wolverine for a halloween race. Opting for jeans in a humid 5k was a bad idea, chafage wise, but running with claws on against people in singlets was pretty sweet! someone once complemented me on my hobo costume at a race…not sure what that was about, as I wasn’t dressed up.

  6. Matt M
    March 20, 2012

    Costumes at races rock! I did a winter triathalon for several years in college (10km ski, 10km mountain bike on ski trails, 5km run), and the U of MN team did it in costume each time, even though no one else did. I went as a leprechaun the first year (it was on St. Patty’s Day), in 70’s garb the next, including plaid polyester adjustable bell bottoms, and as a Chippendale the third year, complete with nude suit and bowtie/cufflinks combination. They were definitely the most fun I’ve had at races. Cheers for making ultras both badass and goofy – a tricky combination to do well.

  7. Rob Y
    March 20, 2012

    I frequently channel my inner super-hero at races by starting off sandbagging and then, at the right moment, begin to surge and try to finish strong. Don’t need a fancy custom to display super hero powers! 😉

  8. karen
    March 20, 2012

    I love it!! LET YOUR FREAK FLAG FLY!!!!! How could you not smile at someone running in a super hero costume.

  9. Steve
    March 20, 2012

    It’s one of the reasons hash house harriers do dress runs. My local kennel did a green dress run Saturday for St. Paddy’s day. Lots of fun and drinking were involved.

    The red dress runs are the biggest ones though, no association with any holiday.

  10. The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy
    March 20, 2012

    If it weren’t for costume races, I wouldn’t be the local barefoot superhero I am today.

  11. Trish Reeves
    March 20, 2012

    Sounds like an awesome time! I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for it.

    Unfortunately, it seems that costumes are only welcomed at races that have a certain theme, like Halloween, Christmas or St. Paddy’s day. I guess you’re only allowed to dress like a superhero or an asshole on designated days. Eff that. Next time I’ll see if I can get Shawn to send you some costume pieces. And I technically kind of work for Party City, I bet I could maybe even get you a discount on some stuff. Heh. Maybe.

  12. Fitz
    March 20, 2012

    I prefer the full fast mask on you Jason. Shelly looks great as is.

    I ran in a beer keg costume as part of a relay race once. It was very well received. The leg was a “costume” leg so it was a no brainer.

    People who scorn you for having fun are idiots.