Costumes at October races are expected. The same is true at any Disney event. But now, people dress up for St. Patrick's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and even non-holiday races.
Why? Because costumes make any race fun for both runners and spectators. And, the race distance doesn't seem to matter. I've seen costumes in 5Ks, halfs, marathons, and trail races.
There's no reason you can't PR in a costume. But, if your outfit malfunctions it can ruin your race. Keep reading for tips so that doesn't happen to you.
Disclaimer: I'm promoting Pumpkins in the Park 5K as part of being a BibRave Pro. It has me thinking a lot about race costumes. Learn more about becoming a BibRavePro ambassador and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews.
Confirm Costumes are Allowed at Your Race
There are security issues at many races. Check the race rules. Are costumes allowed? Are there any restrictions?
Some races don't allow masks or certain types of accessories. Find out before you make your costume.
Brainstorm Costume Ideas
Make a Runner Friendly Costume
Once you have an idea, you need to make it runner-friendly. What does that mean?
Try not to wear a wig. Wigs are hot. If you can use temporary hair color instead of a wig, you'll be cooler. If it's a winter race, go ahead and wear a wig instead of a hat.
Headbands are okay, but attaching things to them can be a problem. They're going to bounce around while you run. See if you can adhere your accessories to a race cap for stability.
If you want to wear something like a cowboy or leprechaun hat, make sure it will stay on your head. Remember, a chin strap is annoying after a few miles.
Start with Athletic Base Pieces
Definitely wear something under your costume. Ideally, your base layer should be moisture-wicking gear. If you have a total costume fail, you can run in your base clothing.
If you can't find the right base pieces in standard running gear, check golf apparel. You may find a golf skirt or polo in the color or cut you want for your costume. Golf clothes are usually made of moisture-wicking material.
Expect to sweat more in a costume. Overheating can lead to painful chafing. If possible, add some holes for ventilation. Plan on using Body Glide or vaseline to avoid blisters and raw skin.
Create Your Own Shirt Designs
If you're skilled at Photoshop or Illustrator you can design your own costume shirt. Printing on performance wear tanks and t shirts is easy. Try a local custom shirt store, or upload your design to an online vendor.
If masks are allowed in your race, make sure yours doesn't obstruct your vision.
Make sure you can breathe, too. It can be hard to breathe through a mask. And what about drinking at aid stations? If a fabric mask gets wet it can cling or chafe.
Face Paint Pointers
Want to paint your face? Face makeup can be a problem if you sweat. It can smear, run down your face, stain your clothes, get in your eyes, etc.
It's a gamble unless you use theatrical makeup. For extra stability, use a professional setting spray to set your makeup — but keep it away from your eyes.
P.S. Bring towels to use after your run!
Do a Test Run in Your Costume
Even if you made a runner-friendly costume, it's important to go on a test run. Make sure you can see and move in it. Practice at night if you don't want to alarm your neighbors.
A test run is the only way you'll know how your outfit performs in race conditions. It's best to discover problems early and fix them.
Another obstacle can be using the port-o-lets before, during, and after the race. Can you get in and out of your costume? Practice so you're ready on race day.
Solo, Duo, and Group Costumes
If you're running solo, you can be whatever you like. Check out My Running Costumes for the ultimate one-of-a-kind crafty race costumes. They're amazing!
If you have a running friend, team up for a duo costume. I've seen some great two-person costumes — hamburger and french fries (AKA Fast Food!), Wicked Witch and flying monkey, Kermit and Miss Piggy, taco and hot sauce, etc.
If you have several runners, use your numbers. Pick a costume that looks good multiplied. Be a swarm of bees, minions, or a pumpkin patch. More is fun!
Want to Buy Your Running Costume?
If you're not interested in a making costume, it's easy to buy one online.
GoneforaRun.com has a large selection that covers everything from princesses to pumpkins to patriots. You can buy all the pieces, or just one.
Or, have someone else make your costume. Search Etsy for some excellent choices. I'm in love with the Tigger race outfit shown below. It's by the talented Etsy artist/seamstress at iglowrunning.
It will cost more to have someone else make your outfit, so weigh that against your budget. Another option is to check thrift stores and resale shops.
Race Costume Contest Prizes
Your random Saturday in May race costume probably won't get you a prize, but most Halloween races have legit costume contests.
The Ram Racing Pumpkins in the Park 5K has prizes. Prizes are awarded for the Best Original Costume and Best Group Costume. The race also has an Elite Division with cash prizes for the fastest runners— in or out of costume.
Have Fun Racing in Costume!
Don't take your costume too seriously. It's suppose to be entertaining for you and the spectators. There's no need to stress out over it. Just have fun.
Consider that you may need to remove part or all of your costume if it malfunctions, hurts, or becomes dangerous (can't see, trip, etc.). Drop things at aid stations without worrying about littering.
Don't be surprised if spectators comment and cheer as you pass. Decide if you'll stop and take pictures or not. It can be fun to stop for selfies — especially if you find a matching or rival costume.
Wearing a costume may slow your pace, but the bottom line is to have fun!
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