Running in Costume: What to Consider Before You Run in Costume (Part 1)

This series was initially published by us in 2013 - prior to us moving over to our current web format. Maryalicia was a costume-running guru, and with the Holiday Half coming up, we thought we would re-post these through November. 

Maryalicia running the Inaugural 2011 Portland Holiday Half Marathon

Although I run in costume all year long, historically October to December timeframe tend to be the time when Costumed races come out in full glory! Running in Costume can be a fun and amazing experience. Why? Well besides the fact I already mentioned (its fun!) it is also a great way to stand out and spectators love us! Running in costume is a great way to stand out in a sea of runners, get easily recognized by family and friends, and provide fun and amusing eye candy and flair to everyone in attendance whether running or watching. But running in costume takes some consideration and preparation. First things first! When wanting to run in Costume, you need to consider a few things. Answering these questions will help make you running in costume experience much more pleasant!


Jonathon Seville wears a 17Kg costume and completes the Brighton Marathon.

1. Starting off, consider how far are you running.  Some costumes are doable at 5k or even 10k, but not so much at 13.1 and greater distances. Although some will do it anyways! One gentleman race walked a marathon in a 37lb+ Donkey Costume (Donkey Racer’s Blog Recap), but not everyone can do what he did. Just something to consider when you are planning a costume.

2. Next, don’t forget about the weather and time of year you are running. Is it hot out? Cold? Is it the rainy season? Running in a costume that is too hot can lead to pieces dropping a long the course. The farther you run, the hotter you will get. If it is raining, wet costumes will weigh you down. Especially a full fur costume or cotton fabric will make you feel like you added 25+ pounds to your ensemble that you never planned to run with. Rain also make costumes bleed and chafe worse than I have ever been chafed before.

3. Then consider whether you are running or racing? By all means – you can race in costume and even win. Camille Herron made the Guinness Book of World Records for her 2:48:51 marathon while wearing a Spiderman costume and Kellie Nickerson won the Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon wearing a Tinkerbell costume, but most just like to enjoy running at an enjoyable pace when in costume. If you are racing – you will want to practice ‘racing’ at your race pace in costume. You will want a material that moves with you and is not cumbersome. However, for most, a PR is not in the cards for running in costume. Almost everyone I have ever talked to mentions that running in costume lowered their ability to PR and or even the ability to run even remotely fast. 

4. Think about time. How much time and effort do you have to put into the costume. I have known many a runner with intentions to run in costume, but time slipped away and they did not finish their costume (some never even started). Time can be a factor that leads you to buy a costume instead of making one, and even then you have to ensure you buy it in enough time for it to be to you and tested before race day!

5. How ‘Full’ is the race? Is the race congested with thousands of runners? If so – think about what type of costume will be least annoying to other runners. For example wings. You will do better in a small race than a full one without taking precautions. In a sea of people, you may find your wings are hitting other runners in the face or snagging on others. Think about using kid’s wings instead, smaller and safer, you can pin them to a sport’s bra and have less movement. Think about this for other costume props and pieces that go beyond your body zone and how they may affect other runners. Some costumes are difficult in busier races. You can do it – just be considerate of others. 

6. Finally – Think about cost. A costume can be made on the cheap or can be very expensive. How much are you willing to spend to get the costume you want? Also, are you doing an adventure or obstacle Run? People are loving the gimmicky races and fun outrageous costumes, but mud runs and obstacles tend to ruin costumes. Do you want to spend a lot of money on a one time gig?

Did I miss something to suggest or consider before racing in costume? Let us know!


Melody Ortiz at the 2012 Inaugural Portland Rock and Roll dressed as Melvis (Mel + Elvis)


Melody Ortiz at the 2012 Portland Shamrock Run

About Run Oregon Guest Blogger (627 Articles)
Posts like these were submitted to us by someone like you - a Run Oregon reader! If you want to submit a preview, recap, gear review, or just your thoughts on running, click on the "Contact Us" tab on the homepage and select "Submit a Guest Post". We will take care of the rest! Happy running!
%d bloggers like this: