Why do we run charity events in fancy dress?

People across the country are constantly putting in training for some of the UK’s biggest running events, such as the London Marathon.

Road races are taken extremely seriously, requiring a lot of preparation, the right nutrition and the best kit. Participants are bound to be putting in some early morning sessions, working out at the gym or paying hundreds of pounds for supportive trainers to ensure they are fit enough to make it around the course in one piece.

Whatever steps they are taking, you can be sure that a vast majority of participants will be making the difficult decision that is picking a fancy dress costume.

Yes, you read that correctly – fancy dress. It’s likely that those who are not professional or semi-professional runners will be at the start line in a costume. In fact, it’s almost the law – but why?

Here are a few of the reasons why we like to run in fancy dress:

Garners more valuable support and attention

The majority of people that run in fancy dress are amateurs, raising money and awareness for a particular cause. By wearing a costume, participants are able to attract more attention, be it on the day or in advance when fund-raising. We Brits seem to appreciate people making a fool out of themselves in the name of charity. Consequently, we are far more inclined to support someone that is not only putting themselves through a gruelling physical challenge, but is doing it dressed as a Ninja Turtle or human-sized banana. It’s funny, it’s humbling and it can make a real difference to the charity coffers.

Makes it fun for the children

Whether they’re taking part in a junior race, watching their mum or dad or simply cheering on all of the race participants, wearing fancy dress makes the whole event much more fun. Donning a princess costume or a superhero outfit can boost the child’s confidence and help them perform better. An outlandish costume will make it easier for them to spot their parents in the throng and quite frankly, it’s funny to watch a pantomime horse or a giant tin of baked beans run past. It’s also quite amusing for the other race participants.

Boosts the runners’ mood

There’s something about fancy dress that lets you be someone different – most of us have experienced this at costume parties and it’s the same on race day. Pulling on a costume can make an amateur feel more confident and throw caution to the wind. Who cares if you don’t finish within two hours? You’re a fairy!

In addition, hearing people cheer on your costumed persona (“come on, Tinkerbell, you can do it”) is much more personal than a general “keep going”, thus the costume also provides some much-needed morale boosting, especially at the later stages of a race. Take it from a fairy who knows.

Part of a collective community

Wearing fancy dress, stupid as it might sound, can help an amateur feel as though they belong. They’re not the only one going through this challenge, they won’t be the only one that struggles. Their outfit provides them with instant membership of a collective community.

There’s something about being part of a group like this that makes people friendlier, too. Complete strangers will chat at the start line, in the queue for the porta-loos, even as they run round – with conversation sparking over their respective costumes. Wearing fancy dress makes the runner feel like they are part of something really big and important.

Media attention

There are some people that hope they are much more likely to be picked out of the crowd by the awaiting television and newspaper crews if they are in fancy dress. It’s not a bad plan and one that can work if a costume is particularly original, thereby raising greater awareness of a cause.

We run in fancy dress for many reasons, but the biggest is to make more money for a charity. Such runners know they look silly, but if it earns them an extra fiver in sponsorship, then it’s been worth it.

Article written by brand journalist and blogger Ash Curtis on behalf of UK fancy dress supplier A2Z Kids. Ash’s favourite running costume is a monkey suit, because it makes him “agile”, apparently.

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