A race used to mean anything from a 5K to a marathon. When things got crazy it was because the runners were wearing flannel or the race was at night. Now the excitement is getting cranked up, with runners slogging through mud or dodging flames, paint and even zombies.
Welcome to the world of adventure races, which combine exercise with general craziness. It’s kind of like the producers of “Double Dare” decided it’s time to revive the theme now that we’re in our 20s and 30s.
Sleepy Hollow Sports Park has had a full summer of Warrior
runs with themes like water, mud and this weekend’s fire. It merges a three- mile run with obstacles that make the race a little bit more exciting — assuming your idea of excitement includes huge pits of mud or fireballs.
In October the park will host the Run of the Living Dead. It basically combines your favorite zombie movie with your fear of exercise, then adds a hoard of undead chasing you across the finish line.
In April, Boone hosted the first Boonecrusher, a 40- or 60-mile race that included running, mountain biking, paddling and more. Earlier this month teams wolfed down local food before running, swimming or biking at Devour Des Moines.
In September, the Great Ames Adventure Race returns, combining running, biking and canoeing or kayaking.
In October, Des Moines will get its first Color Run, a 5K race where the runner is doused with non-toxic colors by volunteers.
At the end of the run you’ll look like a sweaty work of spin art. It’s coloring outside the lines of normal races.
And Nov. 17, the granddaddy of such events, The Living History Farms Off-Road Race returns for the 34th run, combining costumes, natural terrain, mud, often miserable weather and perhaps the most hellish hill a race has ever ended on.
After a few of these races your standard 5K probably won’t thrill you any more.