competition · racing

XRated Run: One race I won’t be running

the letter XOn this blog I jokingly asked if the days of the vanilla 5 km run were over. These days it’s all about funny colours, rave lighting and music, mud, obstacles, and zombies.

You name it, the duo of  Fit,  Feminist, and (Almost) Fifty bloggers plus our extended community of fit, feminist guests of all ages have done it and blogged about it.

On the whole, I love the participatory spirit of these events. For the most part, they’re fun, aiming to get everybody out there moving, and have a real party atmosphere. I don’t see a need to be a snob about race culture. There were thousands of young people, mostly in their 20s and 30s I’d guess, out for the Warrior Dash. Music and costumes and a great supportive spirit.

I might be approaching 50 but I’m not a grump like the guy who wrote this:  The Slowest Generation: Younger Athletes Are Racing With Less Concern About Time. The fifty something author of that piece thinks youngsters are ruining competitive racing with their lack of concern for finishing times. Me, I still see lots of very serious racing out there and if these fun runs capture people who would never race competitively, then I’m all in favour. The more the merrier, to each her own, etc…

Tracy agrees in her blog post on why she likes races in which everyone gets a medal.

Here’s someone’s Warrior Dash video that seems to capture the mood.

But there’s one themed race I won’t be doing: The X Rated Run.

It even involves mud, which I like. And also lots of nudity, sex, toys, and porn.

I’m not staying away from the X Rated Run because I’m a prude or the sort of feminist who thinks these things are a bad idea for women. I don’t.  I’m a sex positive feminist.

However, you might know from my past post on sexercise that there are things I don’t like to mix.

What’s the attraction? Obviously some people think it’s sexy and fun. Some people think if you like two things, say like food and sex, the combo is even better. Not me. Not food and sex. Not exercise and sex either. If it’s fun for you, great. But me, I’ll stick to running, biking, rowing, weight lifting, soccer etc.

What’s the X Rated Run? Here’s a brief description from their website.

Forget 50 Shades of Grey – X-rated is 50 Shades of Mud.

We’re bringing to you the sexiest, wildest and most outrageous obstacles on the mud run circuit, where fitness is not a factor, but fun definitely is!

Whether you’re a seasoned mud-runner or a mud-run virgin, get out of your comfort zone, bring your sense of humor, leave your conservatism at home and join us for a day of adult-themed fun.

We guarantee you’ll get hot, sweaty, sticky, and covered in more than 50 Shades of mud! Come on your own, as a pair or enter a team, just make sure you’re over 18!
sexy mud runner

Here’s a description from the Sports Illustrated blog Extra Mustard:

If you’re a mud-running enthusiast who has ever wanted porn stars, pole dancers, and generous sexual innuendo with your endurance racing, you best start searching Kayak for flights to Bunnell, Florida on March 22. That’s when thousands of runners with questionable motives will flock to the Sunshine State for the inaugural X-Rated Run, described on its site as “THE ORIGINAL, FIRST OF ITS KIND, 5K adult-themed obstacle course race for all people over 18 of all fitness abilities!”

The event—which will feature such obstacles as the Dominatrix Dungeon, the G-String Crawl, and the Boob Wall—is the brainchild of Kelly Perez, an obstacle-course buff and the owner of adult novelty store She got into the hobby after other attempts at weight-loss regimens didn’t stick, and the idea came to her during a workout session with her Marine cousin.

“One day while training, I felt drained and wanted to give up,” Perez recalls. “I said, ‘This is B.S. Forget it. I’m not an elite athlete—I sell sex toys for a damn living.’ My cousin replied, ‘Stop f—ing complaining, and envision crawling through a penis tunnel.’ After I laughed, it hit me like a bolt of lightning: I literally envisioned an entire obstacle course made out of boobs and penises. Exercise and sex are so closely related: They both cause you to get all hot, sweat, and release feel good pheromones. So why is there not an event that can bring the two together?”

On the bright side, it’s associated with a charity, A portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to the, promoting campaigns against female genital mutilation (FGM) and helping restore a sense of dignity and pleasure. Visit to learn more.
How much of the proceeds go to charity? If that’s a factor in signing up for a race, it’s wise to find out more. See Nat’s guest post, Philanthropy and Fitness.

Do I have any actual feminist concerns? Mostly I just think it’s not to my taste. (That’s the phrase my kids used growing up when they didn’t like a meal.)  There’s the usual objectification of women and mainstream standards of beauty and stereotyping of everyone’s tastes and pleasures, no doubt with a healthy dose of heterosexism and heteronormativity thrown in for good measure. But hey, that’s just any mainstream women’s magazine or a typical Saturday afternoon at the mall. That is to say, it’s no more offensive from a feminist angle than most of life in general, except it’s sexually explicit.

I do have one really worry about consent, power dynamics, and really demanding physical activity. At the Warrior Dash, no one made you do the obstacles. There was no penalty for not doing them and no one yelled at you. Instead, some of the obstacle staff gave tips on how to complete a given obstacle quickly and safely. If you decided not to do it, then you ran around it. And for the most part, the Warrior Dash didn’t feel so much like a race. Some obstacles were so much fun that people did them twice. Even I was tempted by the “slip and slide.” But I gather that at the Tough Mudder people yell at you.

If you add “people yelling at you to complete obstacles” to a “50 shades of Grey” dynamic and add in some untrained athletes there more for the sexiness and less for the athletic competition, my thought is things might go badly wrong. And if the people attending got their understanding of consent from that particular book, then yikes.(For a feminist, kink positive review of 50 Shades etc, see crazy and criminal: on those damn books, and why they matter.)