I had the best time last year at the Gray Ghost 5K, a race run in conjunction with the Halloween parade the fourth Saturday of every October in Anoka, the Halloween Capital of the World. It's funny to remember that last year my brother was the one who actually suggested it and convinced me to join him. And by that, I mean the exchange went like this (per last year's recap):
Brother: Hey, want to run the Gray Ghost 5K next weekend?
Me: No, I'm still too slow from the marathon.
Me: Okay, that sounds fun after all.
This year, I also had an idea that it would be really fun to run the race with family and friends in a group costume, and I had family members who were on board. The first plan was to do Wizard of Oz, but then my sister and her boyfriend found out they had another commitment on race day, so the group became Josh, my brother and me. We brainstormed trio costumes that wouldn't be too uncomfortable for running. We considered Star Wars and Mario, Luigi and Peach before settling on our final choice: superheroes!
The bottom line was that I did not want anyone in our group spending loads of money on a costume. Part of what was such fun about last year's Jessie costume was thinking about how to cobble together the costume without buying lots of stuff I'd never use again, so I wanted to try to do the superhero theme that way, too. I headed to the fabric store and left with about $10 worth of felt and cotton fabric. My brother and Josh ended up buying basic shirts and/or shorts they'll wear again, I bought a green t-shirt, and Josh bought a Batman mask and a black sheet (more on that later). I think that's it.
I started piecing together the costumes, beginning with my Robin tunic. I made the little R out of black and yellow felt, and made a super basic and rough little tunic out of the red cotton fabric.
My brother needed Superman's S on his blue shirt, so I used a stencil I found online and hot-glued the S with the leftover red fabric and yellow felt:
And in addition to a few other accessories like belts, of course, we all needed capes. I finished a yellow cape for me and a red cape for my brother. Josh's Batman mask had come with a flimsy black cape (child-sized to boot), and one of my favorite moments of the whole costume assembly project happened on Friday night, when we were picking up my green t-shirt and in the aisle of the store, he asked very sweetly (and a little sheepishly) if it could be possible to make him a better cape. Voila! We snagged a basic flat black flat sheet, and it was done.
My favorite accessories, for whatever reason, were the little wrist cuffs that Batman and Robin wear. It turns out that they are called gauntlets and are a popular accessory for protecting one's forearms whenever one has to go into battle against villains. (Who knew?) My gauntlets were bright green. Josh's were black, and to preserve the accuracy of Batman's gauntlets, I cut out little pieces of felt to give them the extra edge.
Along the way, we picked up a fourth superhero: my friend Kate! She had been thinking about going as the Green Lantern even before we talked about the race and our superhero theme, so it was pretty much meant to be. Our group represented four members of the Justice League of superheroes.
On Saturday morning, we all met up before heading up to Anoka together for the race. Before we left, I thought it was very important to get a photo of my two favorite interpretations of Superman ever.
And here is our fab group:
We got to the elementary school that hosts race registration, got our packets and relaxed in the hallway to stay warm before the race started. The weather ended up being a little chilly for standing around but perfect for running - and even a little toasty if one was decked out in a mask and cape and gauntlets. I think it was about 40 degrees, with bright sun, during the race.
Hanging out in the hallway also gave us a chance to practice our collective game face. We were torn between tough faces and smiley faces. Kate went for "tough" in this one - and in another group photo, Josh and my brother chose tough while Kate and I went smiley. These are the decisions with which superheroes must grapple, I suppose.
We made our way out to the start on Main Street and got into the crowd:
The race got underway, and the first mile was just as fun as I remembered. It seems like we saw pretty much any costume you could imagine.
Tons of families lined the course, and it seems like kids will shout out the name of any character they recognize, which is unbelievably fun for the runner being identified. It doesn't matter that they might have just seen a Batman or two - they seem to get just as excited about seeing the Batman who's running by them at that moment. "Superman is running with Batman!" we heard one boy say. "Yeah! We're friends!" Josh replied. You're waving and laughing, and the first mile flies by.
Most runners wear costumes for this race, so the people-watching in the race field is pretty great. We even had dueling superheroes groups, thanks to some of my brother's friends! My favorite group costume, hands-down, was the Paul Bunyan and Babe group. You'd think that'd be a duo, right? Well, not when Paul and Babe are sized true to legend!
They're both on wheels and there are people running inside the structures. Pretty amazing, right?
Midway through the race, my brother started cracking jokes about kryptonite and being faster than a speeding bullet.
Right at the end, our whole race was made even better when we passed a runner and he said to his friend, "I think we just got passed by the Justice League." It was the first shout-out to us as a group instead of our individual characters! We crossed the finish line as a group, collected our t-shirts and cider, and made our way back home.
I'm so glad I came back to this race for a second year. Who's with me in 2013?