For fans of fun runs, Dallas has options

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Women fall down in the mud during a Mud Run. (Courtesy of


People running from zombies, being doused in colored powders, crawling through mud and overcoming obstacles characterize the newest craze in races.

Sunday, Sept. 22, marked the first day of fall as well as a new running season. As the popularity of themed runs increases, more are being added to the schedule.

According to a survey by Eventbrite, “Themed runs … are already as popular as traditional marathons and half-marathons.”

Themed runs push participants’ physical limits in a fun environment. Many people participate in groups as well. Eventbrite observed, “54 percent of … themed run participants reported that they would do a themed run to get out and be with their friends, family and community.”

In addition, themed runs are an enjoyable way to get out in the fresh air and exercise. With midterms approaching, finding various methods to de-stress are important for a student’s sanity. Many themed runs are happening in the Dallas area this fall.

Dirty Girl is a 5K run for women, taking place at Skyline Ranch, which is outside of Dallas. The run has many obstacles and tons of mud. It is the ultimate girl power race that benefits Breast Cancer awareness. The next Dirty Girl run will take place in Houston on Oct. 12.

“Our participants are rock stars. The sense of camaraderie … is awesome,” said Katie Gohsman, the customer service manager for Dirty Girl. “Participants bond over their trials in life whether it is completing a course that they didn’t think they could complete, overcoming cancer or just getting outside of their comfort zone and getting muddy and letting loose.”

Just in time for Halloween, the Biohazard Zombie Run 5K takes place on Oct. 20 in Fort Worth. Participants literally need to run for their lives. They have belts with flags attached that represent lives that the runners have left. They must run and hide from the zombies waiting to contaminate them. The run is not affiliated with any charity.

The Survivor Mud Run 5K at Stone Canyon Ranch on Oct. 19 is a 20-obstacle course for all people who are up for the challenge. Venders, food and music make for a fun atmosphere, and participants over 21 can look forward to a free beer. They are a for-profit company, but some proceeds are donated to a charity.

The “happiest 5k on the planet” also known as The Color Run comes to Fair Park on Nov. 16. The race “celebrates healthiness, happiness and individuality,” according to its website. Participants wear white, while running through colored powder. It is the perfect event for those looking to get into a themed run because it is less competitive and not timed. The Color Run is also a for-profit event, but they are partnered with The Global Poverty Project and also work with local organizations in the areas of the individual runs.

Sophomore Molly O’Connor participated in The Color Run twice. “[It] was my first run, and I loved it!” she said. “I loved seeing how all that color was making everyone so happy!”

However, themed runs are not for everyone. Austin Michelsen, a senior who participated in two half-marathons and a color run, prefers more competitive events that are timed than themed runs. “It’s like football. The environment and the game is fun, but it’s taken seriously. That’s how I view running.”

For more serious runners, there is the Dallas Running Club Half Marathon & 5K on Nov. 3. The course takes runners around the park surrounding White Rock Lake.

Marin Powell, a junior training for a half-marathon, said, “I was motivated to run a half-marathon because I really wanted a new challenge and to push myself.” She never ran a themed race but is open to getting involved in one.

While themed runs have become more popular in the past year, this genre of race has been around since the ‘90s. Adventure races were one of the first obstacle races. They combine activities such as running, swimming, biking, and climbing with various obstacles. Mark Burnett, producer of Survivor, created Eco-Challenge in 1995. It became the first worldwide adventure race.

To search for more runs, visit for a comprehensive list of Texas races.


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