Dark, bobbing figures covered in glowing lights circled around the Ohio Expo Center fairgrounds on Friday night. Electric Run is similar in theory to Glow Run, a nighttime 5k race synced to electronic music.
I walked up to the starting line, surrounded by runners decked out in all the neon garments they could find in their closet, from neon colored running shirts, to colorful tutus, to socks, to light up wig pieces. The most common accessory of the night: glow necklaces and glow glasses.
At the starting line, electronic music paired with thumping bass set the tone for the next 3.1 miles I was about to embark on. The race started in waves, and once my group was to the front, the announcer began tossing more glow sticks and glow necklaces out to the crowd – none of which I managed to snag.
So the race began, and I was woefully without any glow sticks still (although I did come equipped with the brightest shorts I could find in my closet). My first mishap and only real mishap was right at the start, when I somehow managed to drop my ID out of my pocket and not even notice. Thank you to the kind fellow runner who stopped me and told me.
By this point I realized not only because I had to double back (getting a few heckles about going back for the beer tent), but because of the way the race was structured, I was not going to be making a great time by any means.
Electric Run was not about besting your last 5k time, not at all. Most of the runners were more concerned with the lighting, the blaring music and taking pictures at all the major setups the Electric Run organizers placed through the course – and with good reason.
Throughout the course, checkpoints and mile markers were made clear and obvious by the scenes set up. The first sight runners came across were hundreds of neon umbrellas hanging from trees, illuminating the path with a gentle glow, giving it a through-the-rabbit-hole-with-Alice kind of feeling. The pulsating electronic beats were ever louder at these markers, especially considering the stretches between the points were relatively quiet without any music piped in.
Following the umbrellas were colorful, blown-up arches, an area with vertical neon blowups lining the course, a neon water station just after mile two and giant slanted screens with spinning projection. Finally, most of the third mile wound its way through a smaller section of the course with more lights and hanging neon props, creating a psychedelic aura.
The finish line, glowing like the rest of the race, was crowded with runners, promoters, neon tents and, of course, another table lined with glowing cups of water. I pushed through toward the exit, not really sure where I was in relation to the start of the race and my car, and found myself in the after run, after party, complete with a bar, dance floor and DJ.
To be fair, I was winded and would have rather been guzzling water than beer, and decided to take an early exit from the party and head home.
Electric Run was a success in nearly every way. The lights were cool, the constant neon glow created a groovy feel, but there was only one problem. The parts of the path that weren’t part of the major attractions weren’t lit – not at all – and I witnessed (and experienced) several near ankle rolls. I understand that the whole point of the race was to light everything with the glow lights or the neon lights, but the path should have been lit to some degree across the entire course.
Other than that, I would gladly go back to Electric Run, but next time I will probably be prepared with crazier clothing.