Runners run. Just for the sake of running. I find it peculiar. Me, I need to be tricked into it. A zombie invasion would work (something about the idea of my skull being cracked open as a late-night snack for the undead really gets me sprinting). A promise of beer and pizza just beyond the finish line would do it, too. (If you get there faster, you can drink beer sooner!) And if someone tells me there’s a van-sized pit in the woods filled to the brim with mud, well, I’ll race right for it (because, you know, it’s mud!). Lucky for us reluctant runners, there’s a litany of upcoming runs zombie invasions, obstacle courses, mud pits, colored powder showers, escaped fugitives, and finish-line beers to keep us focused on anything but the fact that we’re actually running.
Here is a roundup of the weird and wacky novelty races coming to Maine this year:
Saturday, April 26 | $20 before, $25 day-of | Gorham Recreation Center, Gorham | www.cumberlandso.org/5K
I’ve never fled from justice. That’s partly because I choose to stay on the right side of the law and partly because my one-time horse-”borrowing” crime spree of 1994 went undetected by the local stable. But otherwise law-abiding citizens can experience what running from The Man feels like (I think it’s just like regular running, with more ducking behind trees) with the Fugitive 5K. Sponsored by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, the race includes a token fugitive in an orange jumpsuit. Beat him to the finish line and win stuff. Pasta lunch for runners after (but please, don’t sharpen your forks into shivs).
Sunday, April 27 |$35 before April 18, $40 day-of | Gorham Middle School, Gorham | www.intothemudchallenge.com
Remember that time when you were little and your mom made you take ballet lessons and just before your final recital you became enthralled by a sink-sized puddle of mud at the end of the driveway and you jumped right in it with both feet, creating an eruption of soggy dirt that splatted across your pink tights and fancy tutu and sent you into a state of childhood euphoria? The Mud Run is kind of like that, except no one will yell at you for ruining your leotard before the show. Expect 2.5 miles of slippery mud pits and challenging obstacles – with an emphasis on getting dirty and having a muddy good time. Costumes, themes, and plenty of mud.
Saturday, May 10 | Individual: $30 early registration, $35 regular, team of four: $100 early registration, $20 regular | Portland Arts & Technology High School, Portland | portlandbulldogchallenge.com
When Mom sent you to school when you were little, she’d never let you arrive dirty, covered in mud from head to toe. But during this race at Portland Arts & Technology High School, you’re welcome (encouraged, even) to get as dirty as you like. Expect a 2.5 mile course packed with mud, obstacles, and more mud. Proceeds support the Portland High Consolidated Boosters/Blue & White Club Fund.
Saturday, May 17 | $39-$55 | Lewiston | Need2SucceedObstacleChallenge
This 3.2-mile race will have a dozen obstacles of varying difficulties. This race is homegrown and will benefit a local woman named Aimee who lives with cystic fibrosis and desperately needs a double lung transplant.
Sunday, May 18 | $15-$20 | Old Town | www.active.com
This 5K will bring you down the pretty Penobscot River. The website doesn’t say much, but if it’s like other color runs, volunteers will hit you with fistfuls of colored cornstarch along the way. Be sure to wear a white shirt and sunglasses!
Sunday, June 1 | $65 | Pineland Farms | www.dynamicdirtchallenge.com
If the notion of crawling into a culvert has ever appealed to you (maybe because you’re curious, or maybe because you’re certain culverts are passageways to Narnia) then let me introduce you to the Dynamic Dirt Challenge. It has culverts, a swamp, ravines, tractor tires, hay stacks and a slip and slide. Expect a 4+-mile off-road running adventure and possible travel into another dimension.
Sunday, June 22 | $45 now, $55 after May 15 | South Portland | www.thecolorrun.com
Imagine putting 1,000 Crayola markers into the dryer on “permanent press.” Now imagine climbing in that dryer with those tumbling markers. I think that’s comparable to what racers look like when they cross the finish line of The Color Run or Color Me Rad. Color runs aren’t about speed (hallelujah). They’re about colored powder. Everywhere. Participants start the run dressed in white, but by the end will look like exploded rainbows, having been showered with colored powder along the course. Expect a 3-mile course. All ages and abilities, runners and walkers, encouraged to participate.
Saturday, June 28 | $55 | Portland | www.raidevents.com/urban-raid-portland
If you were a gritty street cop chasing a purse-stealing good-for-nuthin’, you’d probably dodge pedestrians, hurdle garbage cans, and scale shaky chain-link fences with the determination of a superhero. And you’d catch that jerk. The Urban Raid is kind of like that, except there will only be good guys on the road with you. Anyone who has run on busy city streets knows that it’s a challenge in itself. Urban RAID takes it to the next level by capturing the best of city landscapes and urban elements and incorporating them into an innovative and challenging course. The city is your course in Urban RAID. Expect a 3.1-mile course that uses the city landscape and urban elements to creat a challenging course through the city. Expect also to feel like a superhero.
Sat. July 26 | $89 | Sunday River | toughmountain.com
This is a 5K obstacle course up a mountain. You’ll get muddy and there will probably be some barbed wire to crawl under and logs to jump over. They might fill the snow-makers with water and spray you while you try running uphill.
August – TBA | $40 (probably) | TBA | www.colormerad.com
The event website says it best: “When Zoloft and balloon animals can’t seem to raise your spirits, the best way to brighten your life is to run Color Me Rad 5K…Color Me Rad is coming to a town near you with a tsunami of color that’ll make colored tears of joy run down your cheeks and will renew your will to live.” Organizers posted that the race is again coming to Maine, but is so far scant on details of when, where and how much it will cost.
Sat, August 16 | $60 | Bridgton | www.maineadventureracing.com
This is a triathlon unlike any other: instead of the traditional swim, cycle, run, this one is kayak, mountain bike, hike a mountain. Because let’s face it: swimming is the hardest part — why not paddle instead? The lake kayak will be 2.5 miles before a 16-mile bike and a 2-mile dash up Pleasant Mountain — you can do it all yourself or you can parse it up with a team (but that will cost more). The whole thing will take you 3-5 hours. The race benefits disabled adults in western Maine.
Friday, August 22 | $20-$35 | Old Orchard Beach | www.rev3glow.com
This is a night run with lots of black lights and fog-makers. You deck yourself with glow sticks, glow necklaces, glow …. shirts? and run along Old Orchard Beach. Imagine hundreds of glowing humans running around — it could either look like a magical cosmic event or a zombie apocalypse after a nuclear plant explosion — either way, I want to see that! Racers can take part in either the 5K or the 1-mile run. Neither are timed. Phew.
Sat, September 13 | $55 | Old Orchard Beach | www.raidevents.com
If someone put an obstacle between you and the beach – a wall of sandbags or a barrage of slow-walking sight-seers – you’d conquer it, wouldn’t you? The Beach Raid utilizes deep sand, beach-themed obstacles, and a cycle of boot camp stations to create an experience entirely unlike the beach days you’re used to (which are less “obstacle” and more “nap”). Hit the patio at The Brunswick after the race to reward yourself with some outdoor drinking…an activity you’re well-trained in. Expect a 3.1-mile course on the beach and sand in every crevice.
Saturday, September 20 | $49-75 depending when you register | Scarborough Downs | insaneinflatable5k.com
Face it: Ever since your parents told you, “no, you’re too old!” you’ve been itching to get back in the massive ball pit. You dream of bouncing in the bouncy house at the fair. This is your race. Organizers are promising massive, massive inflatable obstacles for you to bounce on, jump over, climb up and — yeah, it looks like there will be an adult-sized ball pit.
Sunday, September 21 | $30 (probably) | Eastern Prom, Portland | register.racepartner.com/Trail-to-Ale/
There’s beer at the end. And pizza. Starting on the Eastern Prom, the course heads over and around Back Cove, ending at East End Beach. The afterparty is in the Cutter Street parking lot. It’ll be scenic and purty and all that, but that’s not really what interests you. It’s the beer at the end (courtesy of Shipyard). And pizza (courtesy of Portland Pie Company). Expect a big turnout (this is always a popular race), the sun glinting off the water, and a hunger for finish-line pizza and beer that will be as motivating as it is torturous. But mostly motivating. Price details are not out yet.
Spring is for falling in love, hiking, tending the garden, catching a baseball game, and finally cleaning out that darn garage (really, this time). Whether you want to take a ride in a hot-air balloon, see your first roller derby bout or eat your weight in maple syrup, we’ve got you covered. Here are 25 events happening in Maine this spring.
Because it’s spring – do stuff.