Like many Americans, one of the NYE resolutions I set for 2014 was to get into better shape. Having once been an Ironman triathlete and avid marathoner, I thought merely getting back into shape would be a piece of cake. The motivation for an epic comeback started off very strong earlier in the year, but started to fade once the craziness of the year started to set in; I currently had one of the busiest schedules I’ve ever had (a good indicator overall however) , but I was unfortunately left without a lot of time to train. Although my work ethic was certainly still present, my motivation to hit the gym or run outside (the brutal Chicago winter certainly didn’t help with this) was starting to fade…
Then I got an unexpected e-mail invitation from a company called Red Frog Events, an Athletic planning company with an office in Chicago. It cordially invited me to sign up for the Bacon Chase 5K, where for a mere $45 entrance fee, I would get a chance to eat UNLIMITED bacon bits all along the race course, UNLIMITED bacon at the finish of the race, drink one free bloody Mary after the race (with of course, bacon strips included in it), and they would even give me a souvenir t-shirt that was chemically scented to smell like bacon.
Did I just die and go to bacon heaven? I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of this race at first. Then, after sharing this event with the Facebook world, I started to realize that I actually wanted to do this race. Who can argue with the thought of such a delicious food? And besides, all registered runners will be completing the 5K, so all race finishers will have felt as though they deserved to indulge in a grand feast afterwards, right? I signed up the next day.
Contemplating the origins of the Bacon Chase 5K is an interesting subject. Having completed many road and trail races in my life, I feel like the Bacon Chase is taking the athletic planning spectrum to a whole new level. The actual completion of the running portion of the race itself is clearly taking a backseat to the fun-filled theme of the race, allowing the Bacon Chase to reach a bacon-loving audience that may not have been otherwise interested in completing a 5K (3.1 miles).
There has been a many decade long history of organized races using motivational strategies, such as registration fees going towards non-profit organizations, to supply runners with the determination they need to not only register, but also complete a sometimes grueling athletic accomplishment. However, the introduction of races with fun-filled themes has been relatively new, and has surely taken off in terms of demand for the races and also success in bringing athletes of different walks of life and levels of fitness together for a specific purpose: to have fun.
This large level of success means an increased athletic focus for advertisers and other businesses alike. As more and more friends, family, and coworkers start to become intrigued by these fun-themed races, and the demand for them continues to soar, the correlated demand for the creativity not only in developing, but also organizing these events become ever more paramount in ensuring their success.
Some of the other events Red Frog Events organizes are the legendary Warrior Dash, where registrants hurdle over (and sometimes under) challenging obstacles, and also the Great Urban Race, one of the world’s largest scavenger hunts.
With a mass metropolitan audience in Chicago, I am sure that other athletic planning companies are developing similar fun-themed events in the future. I am currently planning on completing a different themed race every 2 months in order to stay successfully motivated for the rest of the year. These include the 5K Dance Party (glow in the dark race that occurs at night), Dikta Dash (everyone dresses up as Mike Dikta and finishes on the 50 yard line of Soldier Field), and the Santa Hustle (you guessed it, everyone dresses up as Santa).
I just may need to lay off the bacon, starting after the Bacon Chase that is.