Night Nation Run blends a 5K with an EDM festival


At the EDM-fuelled 5K Night Nation Run, you have to jog for your right to party.

Well, you don’t necessarily have to jog — you could amble, dance, skip or sway along the course at Woodbine Racetrack on July 23, when the event billing itself as the first “running music festival” streaks through Canada for the inaugural time.

With three DJ booths scattered about the course and a pre-race bar full of beer (belch while you stretch!), serious distance runners probably won’t need to uncap their Bodyglide. But for EDM fans ready to work up a glow before the show: this might be what you came for.

“If you’re trying to get your personal-best 5K time, this might not be the event for you,” said Carly Moskowitz, Night Nation Run’s vice-president of marketing and sponsorship.

“Most people are there for the party or fun.”

In its third year, Night Nation Run started with three U.S. cities in 2014, expanded to 20 last year and will race in more than 30 this year, including later engagements in Vancouver and Montreal.

Past runs have averaged around 12,000 racers, with bigger cities drawing up to 16,000. Moskowitz believes Toronto will be “one of the larger events of the year.”

So what to expect? The pre-party begins as the afternoon heat dies down around 5 p.m. with music and “glow-item” giveaways. Once racers are herded to the track, a second “start-line party” breaks out featuring tunes spun by DJ Oso Grande, a “six-foot-six big 350-pound guy in a big bear suit.” Along the course, there are three DJ booths, selfie stations and lasers and lights galore (plus, don’t worry, water).

Across the finish line lies the after-party mainstage, which always features two opening DJ sets (mainstays include Chris Schambacher and Tony Styles) followed by a mystery headliner.

“You really feel like you’re at a large EDM concert,” Moskowitz vowed. “We’ve got cryo cannons and confetti and the dancers are throwing stuff off the stage. The energy is out of this world.”

The Night Nation Run’s average racer is 26 years old, though Moskowitz stresses that the neon-splashed social is kid-friendly (children 8 and under are free). Once they had a 74-year-old racer.

So there isn’t a wrong way to run it — just don’t imbibe so much before the race that you need someone to lean on.

“Anything goes — anything safe and healthy goes,” she said. “Some people already have their drink in hand as they’re crossing the start line.”

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