Get Down and Dirty

Sign up for a themed run

Get Down and Dirty

Runners are trading treadmill tedium for the fun and camaraderie of themed races. These nontraditional runs range from colorful chaos to tough obstacle courses. Since most themed races cover shorter distances than marathons, both newbie and veteran runners can partake. Why not give it a go?

Health benefits

The thrill of themed races goes beyond spicing up a bland workout routine. These events allow all sorts of individuals to reap the rewards of running, jogging and walking, which can include

  • better heart health
  • improved mood
  • lowered blood pressure

Research also shows that working out with others can boost the health benefits the workout provides.

Freebies and discounts

Many themed races offer goodies with the price of admission. ElectroDash riles up runners with glowing accessories, while color runs provide packets of safe, eco-friendly cornstarch powder in a rainbow of hues. Discount hunters can also sign up with a team or find promo codes online to save money on registration. Some races reward volunteers with the opportunity to run for free.

Types of themed runs

Color races

There are only two rules for the untimed, noncompetitive Color Run: wear white; finish colorful. Color Run has grown into a global spectacle of color, costumes and chaos that has captivated more than 1 million participants—at least 50 percent of whom had never run a 5 km (3 mi) race before.

Color Me Rad is another popular choice for those who crave a side of color with their cardio. Run or Dye is a third option for dye-hard color runners.

Mud and obstacle courses

Mud Hero involves 6 km (3.75 mi) courses featuring obstacles like water slides and the titular mud pits. Natural terrain venues in spectacular and spectator-friendly locations are carefully selected.

Mud Hero is constantly evolving; past events have involved live music and even parkour demonstrations.

If color and mud sound too tame, Spartan Race and Tough Mudder may be challenges worthy of weekend warriors. These intense obstacle courses time participants, but teamwork is still emphasized over competition.

Ivana Dancova, a triathlete with four themed races under her belt, describes Spartan Race and Tough Mudder as “two different types of hard. Spartan Race was more challenging in that we had to literally run uphill in the snow … but Tough Mudder was more about endurance” because it featured a longer course.


Every step of ElectroDash’s evening race is infused with music and neon lights to create an atmosphere that is more dance party than run. Jog, walk or breakdance; ElectroDash doesn’t care as long as you’re moving in glow motion.


There’s a themed race for every type of runner (or walker). Color Me Rad’s Jerrica Hall sums it up simply: “Themed races provide an excellent gateway into the running world. Anyone can participate in a fun, noncompetitive 5K, whether they run or walk.”