When Expectations and Reality Clash (A Review of Sorts)

“Kitty! You’re back! Where have you been?”

Oh, just doing a Forrest Gump and running across the country. Except without the running. Or the “across the country”… I’ve actually just been going about my normal life with a few internet-related technical difficulties.

I did run, though.

This past weekend was The Glo Run*, which describes itself as a “sensory overload” and “a course powered with energized colors and effects jumping to music.”

 

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The description is so wildly inaccurate, they may want to be careful about getting some false advertising charges brought against them.

Contrary to the description (and any expectations you might have from the name of the race), The Glo Run is actually 3.1 miles of near total-darkness. The only light comes from the glowing necklaces and bracelets that are handed out with the race packet. In the case of my city, it was also run on an incredibly narrow gravel track. If you’re unfamiliar with this sort of thing, this means that, because there are thousands of runners in a confined space that’s covered in dust, you’re basically running through a giant dust cloud. It’s dark, so you can’t see where you’re going, and watching the disembodied glowing jewelry bobbing up and down in front of you is disorienting at best, nauseating at worst. Alone, that might have been tolerable, but the paths wound between large, stagnant ponds, with no barrier around them. With no light, the only way to even know there was water was from the smell. Perhaps that was the “sensory overload” they referred to?

There were three stations set up as “energy worlds” that were essentially tents or inflatable arches lit with blacklight. One of them had a DJ, the other two had boomboxes. Everyone stopped to take pictures, making for a nice, claustrophobic effect. This is especially true at the final “energy station”, where we had the added bonus of a fog machine on the highest setting. Yes, inside the closed-up tent. I’ll avoid talking about the DJ too much, because hey, maybe he was told to play nothing but bubblegum pop and 90’s hip hop.

The event was poorly organized, which was surprising and disappointing, as it was put on by my favorite running company. Packet pickup was a nightmare, with only a single pickup point, 40 minutes away from the location of the race. Three computers manned by surly, unfriendly staff, and a line that stretched almost the entire length of the strip mall added up to about an hour and a half wait.

The race was held in the middle of the largest park in the city, with no signs or volunteers to direct the parking or to lead you to the event. We got lucky and ended up in the lot directly by the start, so we could see the porta-potties and figured out where the race was.

The course, as mentioned, was on narrow paths rather than on the streets, despite the huge turnout. The paths went across several roads, none of which were blocked to traffic. And the end of the race actually went off the path completely, through a tent, and then… nothing. No finish line, just walk out of the tent, and wander off somewhere.

On the plus side, I did run part of it. Once we got to the total darkness, I had to slow to a walk due to lack of visibility. I also finished fairly quickly just so I could be done and go home. I guess that’s good.

The one good thing I can say about it is that, as always, the people of St. Louis were awesome and fun, and managed to salvage at least part of the evening with interesting chats and a lot of energy. I’ll keep doing races for that, but The Glo Run is definitely crossed off next year’s list.

 

*Not to be confused with The Glow Run 5K or the Electric Run, which are in no way affiliated.

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