Whether it’s a race on Halloween weekend, an 80’s or superhero-themed fun run, or an event in a theme park, you may be tempted to swap your regular running gear for a fun costume.
Racing in costume is a great way to add extra flair to your race day experience. Costumes are fantastic conversation starters – if you like interacting with other runners and spectators during a race, donning a costume on race day is a must.
But running as Elvis, Mickey Mouse, or a pumpkin can turn quickly into a race day disaster if you’re not properly prepared.
- Do a test run. Mile 5 of your half marathon would be a bad time to find out that your tutu rides up and causes chafing. Likewise, you’d hate to find out that your Santa Claus costume is too hot and stuffy to run in once you’re a mile into a 10k race. Do a test run or two in full costume so you can make alterations if needed.
- Survey your running wardrobe. Running in a costume doesn’t have to be uncomfortable, though. Look at your stash of running clothes and see if you could turn any items into a costume. Say you want to be a cat – black running capris and a moisture-wicking tank or pullover would be a great base for your costume (you’d just need to add a tail, find a headband with cat ears, and invest in gloves).
- Have a back-up plan for other weather conditions. I’ll never forget the story of a friend who planned on dressing as Ariel from the Little Mermaid for a marathon. She spent hours making a cute green skirt and a seashell sports bra so she could look the part. Unfortunately, it ended up being unseasonably cold on the day of her marathon so she wasn’t able to wear her cute costume. When brainstorming your costume, try to settle on an idea that requires dressing in layers. Consider investing in arm sleeves, compression socks, tights, a hat, or any other article of clothing that can easily be added or removed without affecting your costume.
- Make sure you can see. While it may be tempting to dress as Spiderman or another masked character, remember that your safety is a top priority. The last thing you want to do during a fun race and fall and get hurt because you couldn’t see out of your costume. Triple check that your mask has no blind spots before you wear it during the race.
- Don’t pressure yourself to PR. If your costume is slightly heavy or uncomfortable and inhibits your ability to run normally, revisit your race goals. It may be a good idea to keep finish time expectations low so you’re not disappointed. If you’re able to set a PR in a full turkey costume, more power to you!
- Have fun. Racing is fun and racing in costume is really fun. Enjoy the experience. If you’re dressing up as a character, be that character. The crowd will love it and you’ll have a ball!
Have you ever raced in a costume?
Written (and photo) by Jen Matz.