I Beat the Blerch Holiday Fun Run
There are several fun runs going on during the Christmas Season. Just this weekend there was an Ugly Sweater Run and the Chase the Grinch Out of Town Run pretty close by to where I live. But I travel the extra distance because there’s only on Christmas Run that’s webcomic themed: the Oatmeal‘s Beat the Blerch Holiday Run around Seattle’s Green Lake.
The run is held just as the sun sets and it gets pitch black, which mean you gotta take extra care not to step into puddles or wipe yourself out when making a wrong step. (One runner related to me that she tripped when she hit the drop off beyond the pavement.) There’s one spot where the path narrows, and I remember in daylight that on the left side you run right into the lake if you stay off the path. So running in the dark is not without its perils.
The appeal, though, are the dress-up opportunities. Everyone’s encouraged to dress up in Christmas lights. We look like a Disney electric light parade making its way in a circle around the barely perceptible waves in between us. Of course, there are plenty of ugly sweaters — quite a few had done the Ugly Sweater run earlier that day — but there’s quite a lot of creativity on display. One team I ran into earlier were dressed up as toy soldiers. Then there was one guy who looked a little like a reindeer, but he had way more arms than was socially acceptible. So I asked him what the heck he was supposed to be, and he said, “I’m a Humbug.”
Mat Inman was there at his table with his “Exploding Kittens” card game and wearing a turkey hat. It still remains a bizarre amalgamation of interests… but it attracted over a thousand people to dress up and run around in the dark with lights awkwardly dangling from their heavy sweaters.
If there’s anything amazing about webcomics, its how they have this magic of keeping things from getting too serious. Penny Arcade sorta brought the fun back in video game conventions. The Oatmeal? The connections may be tenuous except for the Blerch prominently displayed on the participant’s medal. But they whole idea is that running should be fun, and the trappings of a humorous webcomic makes all of that possible.