racing · running

Mud, zombies, and brightly coloured dye: Are the days of the vanilla 5 km over?

A little while ago I blogged about fun fitness trends and runs with glow lights and a techno beat and I asked “Is this a rave or a race?”

Now I’m starting to wonder if anyone runs  a regular 5 or 10km any more. Yes, there are standard issue marathons and half marathons, for the serious one track mind runners. But for us ‘playing with fitness’ folks runs and races now come in a wide range of flavours.

This summer I’ve been invited to do a tough mudder, the warrior dash, run for your life, and run or dye. All different sorts of running fun.

What do these events have that regular running races lack?

Here’s a few features: Fun, parties, upper body strength, agility, teams…also mud seems a particularly popular addition. A few of these are definitely events worth running in your old “leave them for charity, after they’re washed” running shoes. I’ve signed up for the warrior dash and though I don’t drink beer, I’m looking forward to getting my Viking Warrior hat at the end. I also like the that it’s cross country running and the obstacles require upper body strength. Generalists stand a chance over the whippet thin elf-like long distance runners.

I’ve written before that that’s one of the things I like about CrossFit. Here’s what Tony Leyland has to say about CrossFit and fitness: “Our program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.” (Crossfit Journal)

I’m a bit nervous about the Warrior Dash but friends did it last year and said it was fun. At least it’s short. There’s been controversy over the Tough Mudder (here’s the pledge: I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge. I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time. I do not whine – kids whine) after a recent death. See Tough Mudder Death Shows Risk of Extreme Endurance Events. 

I loved the Zombie Run idea best because it’s so inclusive. You can sign up as a human runner or a zombie chaser. The chasers come in two sorts–the fast paced sprinting pursuit zombies and the slow paced, jump out and scare you, stumbler zombies.

I’m curious if anyone has written something on the popularity of these events which blend popular culture, general fitness, and running. The most fun/least running seems to be the “run or dye” event which you run in white clothes and get covered in dye shot at you from spray guns….

Also, any others you’d add to this list?

Run for Your Life


“Anyone can run. But everything changes when you’re running for your life. Test your speed, strength and endurance through miles of man-made and natural obstacles—all while being chased by hungry, merciless zombies.

This obstacle course race is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. And hopefully, it won’t be your last. Waiting at the end of this zombie infected 5k—aside from a possible brain craving—is an apocalypse party to die for. Celebrate your survival or imminent zombie transformation at this one-of-a-kind festival complete with food, live bands, a DJ, and of course beer.”

Tough Mudder

Cue the scary, inspirational music and speech!


Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie. With the most innovative courses, 700,000 inspiring participants worldwide to date, and more than $5 million raised for the Wounded Warrior Project, Tough Mudder is the premier adventure challenge series in the world.

Warrior Dash


Run or Dye


What if I’m not an Olympic Gold Medalist? Can I still participate?

Anyone and everyone is welcome to come Dye with us!  We have been fondly called Walk or Dye by the National Association of Mall Walkers (Hehehe) and we are called Dance or Dye by the World Dance in Colour Federation of Fun Dancers. Basically this event is for YOU!

What do I wear?

Showing off your colour will work with just about ANYTHING you wear. We recommend the brightest white or light grey to show off ALL the colours… but don’t let that discourage you from going crazy with the sauciest accent colours imaginable. You are your very own canvas – so be adventurous! Create costumes with your friends to wow even yourselves! (Wear the the brightest colours (bright light fluorescent yellow, green, pink or blue – but remember if you wear bright blue the blue from the event won’t show on those articles of clothing.)

Image from the Long Island zombie run web page.

5 thoughts on “Mud, zombies, and brightly coloured dye: Are the days of the vanilla 5 km over?

  1. In a general sense, I’ll all in favor of zombie races, obstacle runs, whatever, because I like anything that gets people out and doing active things and, in my view, what’s even better is that they are doing so in public and in groups, which makes it makes it more like a party or playtime and less like mind-numbing drudgery, which is I think what a lot of non-runners think of when they think of running.

    But on a personal level, I haven’t really been tempted to try them, mainly because they are so expensive but also because I just like to run. I’d be really sad if the “vanilla 5K” went away, because I love being able to pay $15 to spend part of my Saturday mornings running around a local park with 100 other people. There’s something so classic and minimal about it that really appeals to me.

    1. This summer is my first time trying one…I’ll report back. I used to run 5 and 10 km races but since I’ve had two stress fractures I can’t run fast or far. Mostly I jog with dogs these days.

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