When did running become a costume party?

I’m going to bring up a topic today that may offend some, but I really just want to understand.  So, if you have anything to add to this, please comment.

I’ve run 60+ races over the past few years and typically see (mostly women) dressed in a costume of some sort, at every race.  5k’s up to marathons, every race distance has some sort of group or individuals dressed up as characters, or donning tutus, anything to stand out.  What am I missing?  What is the purpose of this?  

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I totally get the idea behind dressing up, or wearing a certain color shirt/shorts/socks combination when running a themed race.  Halloween races?  I get it.  This is a holiday known for costumes.  At a Halloween Half Marathon I expect that probably at least half of the participants will be in costume.  A St. Patrick’s Day run?  I get it.  Kilts will abound, green runnings shirts and shorts green beer at the finish.  A Santa Hustle, yep I expect there to be folks dressed in red and white, and see several snowy white fake beards, and antler headbands.  Why though, do folks dress up at just any old race?  

This is where I am confused, and need some explanations.  Please fill me in.  I think I missed a memo or something.  Why can’t we just run, and not have to draw attention to ourselves with silly costumes, skirts and masks?  If it’s for charity, then I get it.  Otherwise, I am just at a loss.image image image


21 thoughts on “When did running become a costume party?

  1. We can just run :). It doesn’t have to be a costume party or a fashion show. You won’t ever catch me wearing a tutu on the run… I stick with my free race t-shirts and shorts from the sale rack at TrySports. I’m definitely a minimalist…

  2. I can understand costumes for a distance race like a half marathon, marathon, ultra, or relay event because sometimes you need something to get you through the mental challenge of tackling those miles. Anything shorter, though, is an attempt to draw attention to yourself.

    Like you, I just prefer to run. That’s fun enough for me.

  3. Hi Paul,

    The costumes don’t really bother me much. Sure it is a little weird, but most races these days are social events and there are a lot of people that are doing them to be social or run because it is a destination race. For a great deal of runners, they don’t care about their times – they just need to finish. They are there for the experience, not necessarily for setting personal bests.

    So long as their costume doesn’t become an obstacle (the guy dressed like a grape might be a problem) I don’t really have a problem with it. So long as it gets more people into running, they can wear their tutus, hero outfits, and what not. For me, I’ll stick with shorts and a technical shirt from a previous race.

    Although it is a bit humbling to see an full decked out Elvis finish in the top 5 at the Vegas marathon.

  4. I see it not as drawing attention to yourself, but as a way to express yourself in an acceptable way. I have a friend who wears tutus for everything, just because she can and it’s fun FOR HER. I have offered to run in costume for donations to my cause too. You just never know why, and I think it’s great that people are doing more than running, they’re being goofy, and having a lot of fun along the way. More and more people are running, so whatever gets people out there!!!

    • Well, I agree with your points that it does seem to get a lot more folks off the couch and running. How have you been? Have you found some routine again now that the boys are back in school?

  5. True! I was passed by a guy in a cow costume in my last marathon. Of course, I made a joke about him “moooving” right along. But, it is odd. Sometimes, I think it’s a self motivation thing, like, “If we dress alike, then I’m reminded when it’s hard why I need to push through.” But sometimes, well, people just do it to make people laugh or draw attention to themselves.

  6. A whole bunch of reasons why people dress up for regular races… some to get in the spirit of an event, while others are simply seeking attention. I’ve worn reindeer antlers and Mickey ears at holiday and Disney races (nothing that would slow me down), guaranteeing that I don’t take myself too seriously. On a related note, the oddest costume I ever saw was during my very first full marathon. When I saw this particular costume I turned to my running buddy and said “Is that a giant scrotum running ahead of us?” Indeed, some guy was raising money for testicular cancer research and ran the race dressed up as a massive nutsack. It was hysterical and disturbing at the same time. As I passed him I couldn’t help but shout “Go balls!”

  7. I understand your view point but I love to see people in costume. There was a man running in a full on lego costume at Run Melbourne half marathon complete with box body, arms and legs – how he ran in it I don’t know! At Point to Pinnacle a young guy ran in a sumo suit all the way up that mountain and another dressed as Santa. My Husband loved running behind Wonder Woman during the Cadbury Half this year – apparently she was a very good runner to watch (nothing to do with a fantastic figure in short shorts and a tutu). I would never wear a costume for a big event but in a few weeks time I’m running in a costume for Run For A Wish – this fun run encourages runners to dress up. it’s more for the fund raising and to bring awareness to this wonderful organisation that grants wishes to very sick children. Each to their own I say hehe I did see two Japanese runners at Run Melbourne dressed as twins in Elvis costumes who said ‘Thank you very much’ frequently as they ran…sounded very cool with a Japanese accent! My costume for Run For a Wish says ‘I don’t take myself too seriously’ (but some running friends are really looking down their noses at me as if I’m mad). But I hear your point…it does draw attention but is that such a bad thing? It makes it a bit more fun maybe… Always good to hear view points of both sides 🙂

  8. Interesting observation. Costumes do not both me. They make me smile when my body is aching from longer distances or when I am going all out for the 5ks.

    I like to color coordinate everything and may even match a manicure. Its my way of being feminine and feeling confident.

    +1 for more costumes and tutus! I like the slogan shirts too. Everything else is boring.

  9. I don’t dress up myself, but I don’t really mind when others do. Unless they beat me. At City to Surf this year I was beaten by a giant Dora the Explorer.
    My friend ran a 15:50 5k dressed as a bride, complete with veil and bouquet. It was fir his bucks party.

  10. Each one to himself but I’ll stick to uniformity always been that way 😉 However like you Paul I can accept people running for important charities. I suppose the odd comedian doesn’t do any harm either;)

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