6 Tips for Hosting Costume Races Year-Round


tips on hosting costume races any time of year

We’ve established that creating a memorable event is a key element in profitability—and doing so is its own art form. And what’s more memorable than running next to someone dressed in a banana costume? No longer reserved only for certain holidays, here are six tips for hosting costume races that are sure to delight participants any time of the year.

Get Creative

Take a good look at the calendar and keep an open mind. Let all holidays and anniversaries, whether traditionally costume-centric or not, inspire your event. If there’s no occasion in sight, just make one up!

You might plan a leprechaun run around St. Patrick’s Day or encourage patriotic attire for the Fourth of July. In the “any excuse” department, inspiring events include the over-the-top creativity of San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers and the caped crusaders at Michigan’s Super Run. Once you’ve picked your theme, choose your exact event date carefully. Keep in mind, as Turkey Trotters will tell you, that it’s risky planning an event on an actual holiday.

Find a Non-Profit Partner

The Denver Gorilla Run features some 700 runners galloping through the Mile High City in full-body gorilla or banana costumes. It benefits the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund, which also helps promote and support the well-known event. Consider partnering with the local zoo and encouraging participants to dress as their favorite species. We’d also line up to race in support of an animal rescue organization, food bank or arts program–especially if it meant donning a cool costume to coordinate with the charity.

Offer Unique Merchandise

Event merchandising is not only a valuable branding opportunity; it’s a revenue goldmine. Offering merchandise increases revenue for events of all sizes, while giving participants a way to take home a tangible memory.

Costume packages can be included in your registration fee, with an appropriate upcharge, or as an add-on at check out. The Denver Gorilla Run’s garb, for example, is included in registration, as are the Santa suits in many holiday runs. You don’t need to serve up a full ensemble to make a splash, either. Accessories like customized sunglasses, bandanas and glow-in-the-dark necklaces are always a hit.

Set the Scene

Costumed events put a playful spin on running, so it’s important not to take things too seriously. Sure, competitors can go fast—just ask Matt Gunby who holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon in a superhero costume (male division) for his 2:27:43 finish in the 2016 London Marathon. But, there’s more to the race than finish times.

Try adding an element of fun by extending the costume invitation to volunteers manning refreshment stations. Drinks and snacks themselves can carry through a theme, too. A well-placed costumed character at the finish line is also an irresistible photo-sharing moment, sure to get your race some social media attention.

Encourage Group Registrations

It’s all about ‘the more the merrier,’ when it comes to gallivanting around town dressed in a themed, group costume. Invite friends and family to register as a team—and don’t forget to award a prize for the most enthusiastic. When you show up with your friends and family all decked out like the Justice League, you certainly deserve a special medal.

Prepare for Unusual Medical Treatments

In a word: chafing. Not all runners will be accustomed to their race-day costumes, which aren’t exactly designed for heavy breathing and sweating. For all their zeal, they may become uncomfortable around mile three (or 23). They may trip over trailing costumes, overheat or be unable to breathe well. Beyond the standard medical preparation, it’s worthwhile to let your on-site medics know they may receive a few uncommon complaints.