Coach Mike Mead

June 2013

New Adventures in Running

Call me old-fashion, but I do not quite understand the latest trend in running. For the last couple of years I’ve been seeing a growing list of races, locally and nationally, that have morphed into some supposedly fun and wacky challenges.

There are races now that have one run through water, or mud, or paint, or fire, and even ZOMBIES! Whatever happened to plain old “Run for Fun?”

I’m torn between thinking that such events are an injustice to traditional racing, yet such events also encourage those new to running. Perhaps it is the so-called “generation gap” among runners like me. I’m for adventure in running, but how far does one go to attract more to the sport?

I find myself, like the old-timers of my youth, contemplating how life was “back in my day!” Certainly, if you looked for adventure in running, one ran cross country, a marathon, or if you needed a real challenge, an ultra-marathon. These races were usually more challenging when the weather brought rain or snow, or the course was laid out on challenging terrain. A rainy cross country meet made for interesting racing strategies if the course had standing water or areas of mud.

As a serious runner, such running obstacles were not appreciated or desired if one was looking to go as fast as possible at any given race. Cross country is always about placing, however racing on roads and tracks, one prefers ideal conditions for PR efforts. One trains to deal with such challenges as varying terrain, weather conditions, and race pace strategies.

How does one train dealing with zombies? I just cannot grasp that part of these new kinds of racing events. Why does anyone want to run and end up covered up in mud or paint? It is bad enough to sweat during races in the summer, but dealing with mud?

Why would anyone want to run through fire, or be splattered with paint? My biggest concern as a runner was always staying injury-free. Participating in such events makes one vulnerable to injury. Twist an ankle in a mud bog and you might be sidelined for a couple of weeks. A little paint in the eye and you could go blind! Gee, and what happens if you are bitten by a zombie?

I suppose these new types of running events break the monotony of the traditional races and give the new generation of runners a sense of belonging. Such obstacle events do give the less speedy a chance in such competitions. Mud and zombies are a great equalizer! These races may not attract the fleet-footed, but they do add an art form to a sport that some view as a mundane activity.

If such races bring fun and joy to a new generation of runner, I won’t be a detractor. Party on Garth, but watch out for those ZOMBIES!