Bad race ideas? Prison Break!

I’ve written before about races that just aren’t to my taste. See XRated Run: One race I won’t be running.

And I’ve written about races that I think are just a very bad idea. See The skirt chaser: Worst race idea ever?

But I’m not sure what to make of this one, Prison Break!

It looks to be in its second year and in 2014 will be held in Quebec, Montreal, Toronto and Halifax. Here’s the basic run down:

You have been convicted of a crime
you did not commit

Equipped with a belt and 3 flags*, you have 3 attempts to escape.
*Flag football belt
Run a challenging 5 km course to make it to freedom.
15 obstacles will test your strength, your endurance, your dexterity, your brain and above all, your determination.
Between the obstacles, stay alert! The guards will want to take your 3 flags. If a guard takes one of your flags, your escape continues.

At the end of this physical challenge:

If you have no flags left, you will be punished and sent to the mud hole.

If you still have at least one flag left, you are free and a handsome man or a beautiful woman will be waiting for you with a cold beer.

For more details on the race, see RACE INFO

Read about the first of these events held in Ottawa last year here.

I guess it could be terrifying and triggering for anyone who has had bad experiences being chased by the police. Or who has ever been falsely imprisoned and tried to escape. Personally, people in uniform yelling at me and chasing me would be a bit much.

What do you think? Great idea, sign me up? Or fine for some but not to your taste? Or just a bad idea all round?


5 thoughts on “Bad race ideas? Prison Break!

  1. My immediate impression was that it sounded like a good alternative to zombie runs for people that find zombies upsetting. I think it does perhaps make some unfortunate assumptions — that their target audience would always find cops IRL to be friendly & helpful so that this run is clearly fictional.
    And the bit at the end about a handsome man/woman with beer is kind of showing more creepy assumptions, unless they’re perfectly happy to let gay and lesbian runners specify their preferences. Which I doubt. (I’m not going to go hunting through their site for the deets.)

  2. I participated in the Ottawa Prison Break run last year. I had some reservations about the concept but i enjoy obstacle course racing so i (along with my daughter and several friends) decided to give it a try. It is much more like flag football with mud pits than cops and robbers.
    We have done several of these races and this was by far the best organized; the obstacles are challenging but do-able, and the overall feeling was one of camraderie and fun. Participants band together to outwit the guards and if you lose all your flags, someone will give one of theirs. At least on our team. If the beer tent is not for you, join our tailgate afterparty. Preference not important as long as you are muddy!
    To date, we have done Tough Mudder, Spartan and Prison Break. If you are new to obstacle racing, I recommend Prison Break. Sometimes its best not to overthink these things. The blurb is just that, a blurb. The “theme” is just a gimmick.

  3. Hi! The actual run does sound fun, by Mary-Jo’s description! However, I believe these themes DO mean something, and the fact that they have been turned into gimmicks is *part* of that meaning. Simulation and imaginary play is fun, creative, and exciting–particularly when there are no real consequences. But it’s also sensationalizing the violence of prisons, at least to some degree (or we wouldn’t be using this gimmick). There are some cultural elements that are too sacred for some folks to want to sensationalize (a 5K run away from the Devil and everlasting hellfire, or Hitler’s SS?). But others seem like fair game. Who decides? And who gets to participate at no personal expense, while others have to live with the realities of the prison system every day? To pair exercise with simulated violence that has no real consequences–indeed any real engagement with what it means to be in/break from prison–says something about how we can so easily dismiss all of the real violence that happens in jails. Am I overthinking? Probably. But we don’t always recognize how elements of our culture are acting on us, and it’s precisely when we don’t recognize it that it can have its most lasting effects.

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