I’ve written before about the fad of themed runs. They appeal to a wide range of tastes, some for fitness, and some for a good time with friends. Unlike most fads, this one doesn’t seem to be fading. If anything, it’s getting bigger! So perhaps it’s time to retire the “fad” label, at least for now. With that mind, how does the Wipeout run stack up to events like the Spartan Race or the Zombie Run?
Wipeout Run has been around for a few years under a different name–R.O.C., which stands for Ridiculous Obstacle Course. They teamed up with the people behind the ABC game show Wipeout, and it’s a natural fit. The course is littered with huge inflatable obstacles, all of which are designed to make crashing as much fun (maybe more!) as getting through them. Oddly, this is the first year the actual Wipeout TV show has not been on the air since its debut in 2008. In the show, if you fall off an obstacle, you land in pool of water, so a skilled runner could stay dry. In the Wipeout Run, that’s just no an option. Even if you navigate all the obstacles, many of them end with you splashing into a pool of water as the only way out. So there’s no point trying to avoid it!
When I arrived, the weather was warm and there were swarms of people, many in brightly colored outfits and silly costumes. Wipeout Run advertises itself as a crazy, carefree event, and the participants took that to heart. I might have seen more weird outfits that day than I did on Halloween! This is a good thing; it all adds to the fun atmosphere. Spacing the starting waves out was a good idea to prevent bottlenecks at the obstacles. Most could be conquered right away, although a couple of them ended up with long lines anyway. The challenges were mostly of the goofy variety, with very few that I consider to be skill-based. I think this is what most participants expected, although I confess to hoping for more of a challenge. There was one balance obstacle that most people failed, and I was please to successfully navigate that. The Big Balls obstacle, though, I believe is nigh impossible for anyone. There were many people with phones and cameras, including GoPros like the one I wore, making this the most electronic-friendly run I’ve ever done. And I saw a ton of people posing with a variety of backgrounds after the race. It’s absolutely great for a fun time with friends.
As with anything, there are things that could be better. The video on their website shows the obstacles in a field, with grass and dirt, which is a good environment for a run. This one, in Irvine, was in a big parking lot, so the setup was rather ugly. I know the LA area is not known for wide open natural spaces, but having it in a parking lot was disappointing. There were also at least 3 obstacles listed on their website that were not on this course. The site DOES say that obstacles vary by location, so this isn’t anything they did wrong…but it looks like all 3 that were missing were skill-based. Which was (for me) disappointing, since as I mentioned above, I wanted to be challenged. Two of the obstacles had really long waits. One even involved putting on a life jacket! For forty inches of water! I know this is probably a legal thing, but it didn’t make sense. Everyone already has to sign a waiver. Just make sure people know there’s a water obstacle, and you can skip the life jackets for water that only comes up to your stomach.
Overall, I think the less of an athlete you are, the more you will like this event. Runners would probably not get a lot from this, since the running is interrupted so often. And obstacle course racers, like the Spartan Race I linked to above, would find this too easy. But for the average person, for whom this would be their first themed run, it fits the bill. Just looking around at all the people having fun with their friends proves it. So if you have a hard time getting off the couch, you can definitely enjoy the Wipeout Run. They’re done for the season, but look for their new schedule in 2016 at www.wipeoutrun.com!