Running a 5K certainly doesn’t appeal to everyone. But if you provide some beer, blast some upbeat jams through 120 speakers throughout the 3.1-mile course and enlist the infamous Left Shark to cheer everyone on, some initial skeptics might be more willing to participate.
By Kaitlin Reid
That was the strategy the Music Run adopted this weekend. Founded by Fresh Events Global, the course aims to create an interactive and fun running event for everyone, everywhere. After successfully orchestrating 12 events in nine countries and involving 100,000 international participants, the Music Run made its Austin debut on Saturday.
Running, jogging, walking — and even dabbing — were encouraged, as long as the movement resulted in crossing the finish line. Participants were also encouraged to help curate the playlist by voting for their favorite songs on the Music Voting App, created in conjunction with Spotify. Each kilometer of the 5K featured a different genre of music (rock, pop, hip-hop, country and dance) and played the songs that received the most votes from the audience prior to race day. The course culminated in a “music festival” featuring local musicians and DJs to celebrate the end of the race. One of these performers was DJ Manny, a local artist and co-owner of the record store DJ DOJO, performed at the Travis County Exposition Center on Feb. 20.
For Tom Lapcevic, executive vice president of 24 Hour Fitness, one of the Music Run’s primary sponsors, the event was all about blending fitness and fun in an interactive way. "The Music Run is an experience that's encouraging people to live an active and healthy lifestyle that's fun. It represents a new generation of fun run events, where participants can actively shape and share in the experience they have at the event," he said in a press release. "The Music Run combines music and running in an immersive and social way, leaving runners feeling energized and uplifted."
The founders recognized that although some runners bond over the experience of exchanging various running playlists and soundtracks, others find running with headphones polarizing and lonely. They sought to combat this issue by making the Music Run a collaborative, hands-on experience. “I think The Music Run made it a more cohesive experience because there were people singing along and running to the beat, while most of the time runners isolate themselves by listening to their own music,” participant Sydney Benator says.
But despite its efforts, the Music Run failed to generate the same attendance locally as it does internationally. According to the Facebook event page, 727 people were “interested,”, but only 326 actually attended.
Some participants questioned the Music Run’s advertising strategy. “I wouldn’t have known about it if it wasn’t for the organization I’m in,” volunteer Lexi Kennedy says. “It was just a volunteer option that I signed up for, but I hadn’t heard about it anywhere else.”
Still, there are hopes that the Music Run will make a triumphant return to Austin next year. “I have never seen anything that extravagant at a run before,” volunteer Natalie Miroballi says. “The MC did a great job getting the crowd involved, and everyone really seemed to be enjoying themselves.” Miroballi even adds that she would take part in the fun next year — under one condition: “I think it would be fun to participate in next year, if I could convince a few of my friends to join me.”