Themed Races: The Future Of Running

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Jun. 24, 2013
  • Updated Jun. 24, 2013 at 11:41 AM UTC
Color Running is a new trend with runners. Photo: U.S. News and World Report.

New themed races provide participants more than just racing from point A to point B.

Not so long ago, runners who wanted to race trained for a specific distance and then showed up for an event to see if they could achieve their goal.

These traditional races are still a dime a dozen, but it appears a new trend in the industry is taking root.

Specifically, “theme” races are surging in popularity.

U.S. News and World Report published an article about this trend. A race that comes to mind is the “Color Run,” in which participants are doused with non-toxic powders during their jaunt, typically a 5K.

The Color Run started in 2012. Within one year, the series spread to 50 cities with 600,000 runners in total taking part.

This year, that number is expected to climb to one million.

“What’s gone on in the last decade or so, is that the space was really fragmented. There was a host of local events, and you had some bigger marathons — the Marine Corps, the New York, Boston, that would appeal to various groups … and then you had some local marathons,” says Scott Rosner, who teaches sports business at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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