Lace up your cross-trainers and pound that pavement: Vancouver is set to host a series of fun runs that could tempt even the most reluctant jogger.
First on deck is Concrete Hero, a nine-kilometre obstacle challenge at the Strathcona Oval Track today that is being held in the city for the first time.
The following weekend (Oct. 5) will see UBC's Thunderbird Stadium host Color Me Rad, a five-kilometre run in which white-clad participants douse each other in coloured powder.
Then on Oct. 11, the PNE will host ElectroDash, a half-run, half-dance party that will see registrants hit a course to the tune of pounding electronic music before arriving at a DJ show.
Fun runs such as these are rapidly growing in popularity around Vancouver. Color Me Rad is already sold out, while last June's Tough Mudder obstacle challenge in Whistler drew around 19,000 participants.
Douglas Nelson, CEO of the BC Cancer Foundation, which is using Concrete Hero as a fundraiser, said these events are so popular because they foster a strong sense of community.
"People want to do something that is fun, out of the box and make a difference with it," he told The Huffington Post B.C. "We're seeing people that have done some of those events that are raising hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to be part of Concrete Hero."
Obstacles in Concrete Hero are named after British Columbia landmarks. The "Lions Gate Lockdown" forces runners to leap over cars and climb over buses; "Lost Lagoon" challenges participants to swing over muddy waters; the "Chief" sees them scale a two-storey structure made of shipping containers.
"We wanted to give people the experience of some of the Spartan Race and Tough Mudder, but do it right in their city," Nelson said.
"It's run two years in L.A., there it's done for an HIV/AIDS charity, but we know that here in Vancouver people want to do something that's a lot of fun, a little out of the comfort zone and do something that has meaning."
Over 1,000 people are expected to attend.
Check out photos from fun run events like the ones that will hit Vancouver this fall. The story continues after the slideshow:
Meanwhile, Color Me Rad, which is raising funds for Keep A Breast Canada, is holding an event in Vancouver for the second year in a row, with 8,000 participants expected this year. Last year's event drew 5,500 people.
The fun run was inspired by Holi, a Hare Krishna festival in Spanish Fork, Utah that sees thousands of revelers spatter each other in bright colours, race director Shane Crandall told The Huffington Post B.C.
"You start out wearing a white shirt, and then every kilometre along the way you get doused with a new colour," he said of Color Me Rad.
"We have three powdered stations and two liquid stations, and at the powder stations, you get the best explosive pictures of powder shooting off of your chest as you run through. "
The run concludes with participants exploding colour bombs on each other at a central stage area.
Anyone who wants to join can sign up for a waiting list on the Color Me Rad website. Late registration costs $50.
Some of the organizers behind Color Me Rad are also producing the second-ever ElectroDash, which is raising funds for Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver.
Orem, Utah-based race director Wyatt Grow put on the first ElectroDash for around 4,000 people in Toronto on Sept. 6 and he expects a similar number in Vancouver. Registration costs $50.
He began ElectroDash in Canada in an effort to bring more fun runs north. Many such events begin in the U.S. and take a long time to cross the border. The Warrior Dash obstacle race, for example, was first organized in 2007 and didn't come to Canada until 2011.
"We just wanted to bridge that gap and have it arrive sooner," Grow told The Huffington Post B.C.
He described ElectroDash as an audio visual spectacular. Runners decked out in neon run a course flanked by illuminated pillars, fog and laser displays.
He said people are attracted to fun runs because there are no winners or losers.
"Tons of people run to stay in shape but would never dream of competing in a traditional 5k or 10k because they'd be so out-classed by the elite athletes who dominate those events," Grow said.
Fun run participants in events he's organized are usually between the ages of 18 and 35, he said. Women constitute 75 per cent of registrants, and fewer than half of all runners have ever done a five-kilometre run before.
But do the events encourage people to be fit?
"Not everyone who has a conversion story about running writes in to tell us how training for or participating in ElectroDash helped them make the lifestyle change," Grow said.
"But we've had more than a few fan letters to thank us for inspiring them to be more active."