Over the past half-decade or so, it seemed that not a weekend went by without a run on the weekends. It wasn’t just a Philippine phenomenon—global statistics indicate that running, indeed, was at an uptick. But as the decreasing number of participants indicates, the boom is slowly running out of steam.
This doesn’t mean, however, that they’ve hung up their running jerseys and suddenly taken up knitting. It just means that runners have leveled up their game. Some want longer and longer distances, tackling ultramarathon distances instead of a “pedestrian” 21-K. Others are taking to the wild outdoors in trail runs. All of them are looking for something more than the ordinary.
Organizers know it. Many popular runs have been adding touches to heighten the participants’ experience. For example, the famous Music Run lines the course with speakers so participants have a shared sound track, while Outbreak Manila transforms a simple run into a wild dash by adding zombies that try to catch you. A simple marathon is not cutting it any longer.
That’s why obstacle courses are attracting more and more people. It’s a shared physical experience that introduces new sensations, challenges, and stories. People don’t want to just talk about the time they ran 21 kilometers; they want to tell the story of how they trudged muddy paths, climbed rough walls, and jumped over or crawled under obstacles.
Fortunately for organizers, obstacle courses don’t have to be on the level of the military-grade Tough Mudder. Remember that the experience and the story are more important than the difficulty, especially when the target audience isn’t that physically active.
A few creative touches to make the event more fun can go a long way. Try taking a page from Outbreak Manila by holding the event away from the beaten path and adding costumes. Or include games and puzzles along the course that they have to finish or solve before moving on. For additional marketing value, match whatever activation you’re planning with your brand. Muddy terrain, wires, and monkey bars are all strictly optional.
When your brand or organization is planning a fun run, don’t make it simple. Make it fun—with obstacles and gimmicks that the audience will enjoy.