Throw this party: The at-home birthday 5K

April 30 2014 | Guest post by Janice McDonald

IMG_0137smThis year I turned 31, and I wanted to do something special. So I planned to host a 5K run for my birthday at my house. I wanted to run 3.1 miles with my friends and family.

Here's how I did it…

1. Plan a route: I used Map My Run to draw a loop that started and ended at my house.

2. Give Advance Notice: I made sure to let people know well in advance so that they could train up for it if they had never run before.

3. Make Preparations:

  • Party Favors — I made temporary tattoos with my name in a heart.
  • Maps — I printed up small maps for people in case we ran at different speeds. I also included shorter loops for people who might get tired and wanted to quit early.
  • Outfit — Since I was the birthday girl, I needed a fun outfit. I made myself a tutu and felt "Birthday Star" crown that I can use later for my kids' birthdays.
  • Finish Lines — I had leftover crepe paper from a previous party, so I had people hold that up so everyone got to run through a finish line (toilet paper could work, too).
  • Food — I organized a potluck party so I didn't have to worry about all the food.
  • Tables/chairs — I had tables and chairs outside in the driveway and the food inside.
  • Start time — I had a start time of 11am, and then we just all ate lunch when we were finished.
  • Timed event (optional) — I used an iPad on a music stand to time the event for fun and had someone record people's time as they crossed the finish line.
  • Safety — I didn't have any streets closed down, so I made sure people knew to wait for cars and stay safe.

4. Appoint people: You need someone in charge at the home front while you are out running who can make sure the finish line holders are in place, there's a photographer, someone to yell "On your marks. Get set. Go!" and start the clock.

5. Have fun: The great thing about this is that you need runners and non-runners. The non-runners can watch the kids, cheer, hold the finish line, take photos, etc. The other great thing about a 5K is that there are some people who can run that without training for it. It was fun to start out all running together. Then some people were faster and they went ahead and the rest of us stayed pretty well together. We got a couple honks and shouts which was fun.

  1. That is a stellar idea! I jog a bit, but maybe I'll adapt this for a hike for my birthday this year ๐Ÿ™‚

    2 agree
    • Oh a hiking party sounds fun! You could get a guidebook and do some foraging too, if that's your thing. I can't wait for morels to ready around here.

      1 agrees
  2. This is such a great idea! My birthday is on a major holiday in the dead of winter and I live in Alaska, but maybe I could do a snowshoe or ski party. I love the idea of getting everybody I love together to do something outside.

    3 agree
  3. Fantastic! I love it! I wish I didn't have to wait 11 months for my birthday…

    Another thing you could think about for people who can't/won't run: course marshals. They could help direct runners at turns /street crossings while also cheering. If you have no course marshals, sidewalk chalk arrows. We totally use sidewalk chalk arrows in my workplace's 5K fun run. ๐Ÿ™‚

    2 agree
    • Yes, PLEASE use chalk and not paint! The trails on the park by my house still tell me where to go from the rUN Dead race held last year. Funny concept, don't need it permanently marked in the park…

      But that would be a fun rip-off idea for a Halloween-themed 5k party or a "OMG I just marathon-watched the Walking Dead and now I need to do some walking/5k/marathoning myself" party.

  4. I LOVE THIS! I'm not a runner (my excuse is that it's too damned hot here, but let's be real: I wouldn't run even if I lived in the arctic) BUT! this could be adapted in so many ways. Make-shift roller rink party? Tour de Your Neighborhood biking party?

    1 agrees
  5. Also a great idea for a kids' birthday party! Maybe not as long, but if you had a good neighborhood you could make little activity stops every so often so that they were basically running from activity to activity (off the top of my head: a make your own lemonade stop, a make a running number thing stop, a tie dye a running shirt stop, a get a snack stop, etc). Oh my god, they wouldn't have to even been in the house at all! Win!

    • Yes, it could work for kids! The station idea makes me think of gym class. It's great to get kids active! And yes, keeping them out of the house is a big win! ๐Ÿ™‚

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