One of the weirder races you can get yourself into, the Worst Day of the Year Run is held on loops of gravel track at McMenamins Edgefield, in late January. It’s a costumed event in a fun crowd of people, so you’ve got plenty of entertainment. For much of the race, I was behind two runners dressed as beekeepers and their bee-costumed compadre. Did I pass them? No! But I kept trying! Shortly after finishing, I noticed the most awesome chili pepper, just standing there looking effortlessly cool in some brightly colored sunglasses. “Drat!” I thought, “Why didn’t I bring any sunglasses?” (Because in my post-race haze it was obvious THAT was the one thing that would have made me cool). Then, as if by magic, we found the folks at the REI tent were giving away sunglasses in mix-and-match colors. Ahhh. NOW I am cool.*
*not at all.
Distance reviewed: 5K
Elevation gain: About 180 feet
Size of field: Around 133 finishers
The Brews: Beer from McMenamins
Flexible Start Time – The perpetually late person’s dream! You can choose to start at 9:00, 10:00, or 11:00. Want to start at a different time than you signed up for? No problem. You don’t even have to let them know. Just show up at the start time you like best.
Medal for a 5K – Seems like just a few years ago, you couldn’t get a medal for finishing anything shorter than a half marathon. Then you could find races with medals for 15K. These days more races are offering medals for the shorter events. Maybe they’ve noticed that we like the bling. The Worst Day of the Year Run gives you a medal for finishing a 5K. Sweet!
Awesome vibe – It’s quirky and fun. The crowd was good-natured and dressed in all manner of sweet costumes. From a Christmas tree to Price Is Right contestants complete with podiums and Princess Leia wearing a sign that said “Join The Resistance” there was plenty to look at. Part of the race circles the golf course, and it really added to the surreal ambience that our entire herd of costumed revelers passed within 20 feet of a couple of golfers.
Indoor staging area – And thank goodness, because it was cold and windy out! There was plenty of indoor space to hang out while you waited for your start time, or to enjoy your chili and beer after finishing.
Free Hat – Did you notice all the sweet Columbia winter hats in the slideshow? They included a free hat for the racers this year!
Not a fast course – OK, so due to the hills and the gravel, this course will probably not yield your fastest 5K finish time ever. But really, if you came to the Worst Day of the Year Run looking to set a personal record, you’d be missing the point.
Singletrack – Some of the course is singletrack, narrow enough just after a crowded start that you can’t pass. Which can be cumbersome when you’re sharing the race with groups of revelers who may be walking, adjusting brilliant costumes, and congratulating one another on said brilliant costumes.
Definitely don’t do the Worst Day of the Year Run at McMenamins Edgefield if you’re too serious about finish times, or if dodging beekeepers and chili peppers would bum you out.
The repeats of hilly loops on gravel are a trip, and the wind can be a bit challenging. By which I mean, the damn wind smacked me in the face as a reward when I got to the top of the hill.
But this race is perfect if you want to indulge in a little quirkiness, check out some cool costumes, challenge yourself on a few hills, and need a good dose of that brisk Gorge wind.
The Worst Day of the Year Run didn’t feature any rain this year, but odds are it will in 2018! Get some tips for running in the rain.
What’s your favorite oddball run? Let us know in the comments!