A fortnight ago, I laced up to run in the Yarra Valley for the Harvest Run. It is the second year I have run this event and it got me thinking about what makes a fun run stand out to me and why I would drive for an hour to do something I could do at home for free – run. I’ve started thinking of these events as fun runs… with benefits.
With so many running events and fun runs on the calendar these days, organisers are doing more to stand out. Call them incentives, call them gimmicks, I don’t really mind. It all adds to the appeal for me.
Here are a few of my favourite fun runs… with benefits:
The Yarra Valley is arguably one of Victoria’s best wine regions with some incredible scenery to boot. That alone means the Harvest Run already has a lot going for it; but as well as two distances (5.5km around Yarra Glen or 13km from Healesville to Yarra Glen), what really makes it stand out is what is on offer post-run. You can pre-order a cheese platter with wine to pick up after you cross the finish line or purchase local wine, beer and cider and other local produce in the event village. Not to mention live music and a festival atmosphere. Now that is definitely worth the hour’s drive!
*I was gifted an entry to the Harvest Run by Sole Motive.
The Color Run
I have done the Color Run a couple of times now and it is great fun – but not if you want a serious run! It is a perfect introduction to running events and fantastic if you are happy to get into the spirit and get dirty. For the uninitiated, Colour Runs are held all around Australia and usually involve volunteers throwing coloured chalk at you while you run. At the end, you are covered head to toe in pastel dust but usually with a smile on your face. With such a unique draw card, it does attract a lot of people who don’t usually run so it is not the kind of event you are likely to make a personal best.
A series of three fortnightly evening runs in summer, the Sunset Series is another event with a great festival atmosphere at the finish line. There are three different locations for this series, the Tan Track, Princes Park and Melbourne Zoo. Although honestly, the stand out is the zoo – really nothing can beat running through the grounds of the zoo. There are plenty of people who take these races seriously, but I find it hard to do a great time with so many amazing animals to stop and stare at. Each event also has a few food trucks to grab dinner and a bar to quench your thirst post-run.
Wings For Life
The Wings for Life run is a unique concept with three big draw-cards that make it stand out from the rest. Not only is the course down the Monash Freeway (not exactly a typical Melbourne running track), it is a simultaneous worldwide run with over 130,000 runners starting at at the same time in over 200 countries (9pm on a Sunday night in Melbourne). AND there is no finish line; some of the runs are ‘selfie runs’ but many use a catcher car that starts driving at 15km/h, 30 minutes after the start time – when the car passes you, your run is over. Confused? Read more here.
The Sri Chinmoy events are not for the walkers (as I found out the other week!); runners only. Many participants take it seriously and some very impressive times are usually put down. These races are very affordable on the scale of Melbourne running events but it is the included breakfast of pancakes, bananas and maple syrup which definitely hit the spot post-race.
At the end of the day, a fun run with benefits might not be for you; you might be looking for a more serious run. But it doesn’t hurt to dip your toe in the pool and see what else is out there… you might just find something a new favourite fun run!