How the Rave Run Failed

Tonight is the Electric Run in St. Paul. It’s a show, participation art, and celebration of life all wrapped up in a 5k light package. It’s the second of several touring party races coming through our fine Twin Cities.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a review on the Rave Run, the first novelty race of the season. It made promises of “3.1 Miles of Stunning Lights & Music with a Wicked After-Party”. While the runners I talked to certainly had a blast, that wasn’t the experience for everyone. In fact, it would appear that most people thought the Rave Run 5k Minneapolis was a major fail.

Rave Run Disappointments

After getting a handful of negative comments on my review, I asked runners who ran to share their experience on Twitter and Facebook. Here are just a few of the comments we received (edited for content).

Total BS!
They took the money and ran.
Parking was a nightmare. We were sitting there for two hours!
They ran out of shirts and I never received mine.
Long lines!
They didn’t have anything even remotely like what they advertised.
Giant lines!
Terrible course, packed too close to run.
Hardily any lights.

It would seem that the Rave Run failed to deliver on the basic principles of good race management.

How to Run a Good Race

Admittedly, I’ve never put on a race, let alone one with 8,000 runners like the Rave Run. However, I’ve run in enough to know the essential elements to a smooth race.

Registration and Communication

This needs to be clear and consistent. We received dozens of emails from race participants who had registration questions. Whether that be related to their Grpupon, or not receiving enough information from the organizers. On the day of the race, MinneapolisRunning had a ridiculous amount of web hits related to the Rave Run. I think people may have been contacting us out of desperation.


This is always going to be an issue when you put a lot of people in a small space. From what we heard, they did a terrible job securing the necessary traffic control. People were stuck in long lines waiting to get into and out of Valley Fair. One comment said they turned around and went home it was so bad. In addition to crowded parking lots, the race course was over crowded. “No place to run” is what one person said.

Over Deliver

If you want to make people happy, under promise and over deliver. The Rave Run promised to show runners an amazing race experience through a “rave” like experience. Pictures on their web site depicted tunnels of lights and something that would make Daft Punk’s Tron soundtrack jealous. More than one comment mentioned it was so dark, it was hard to see where you were running. They also shortened the race from a 5k to about 2.5 miles.

If you’re going to differentiate your traveling novelty race series from others, make sure you have the resources to do so. There’s nothing worse then paying $30 and not getting a shirt or crazy light show. I’ve personally reached out to race organizers four times via email and once through Twitter. I’m still waiting to hear back. You can try at Lets hope tonights Electric Run is smoother.

What was your Rave Run experience like? Fun? Terrible? Would you recommend it to a friend?

Nathan Freeburg
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Nathan Freeburg

Editor in Chief at Minneapolis Running
Nathan started running when he was 14. 20+ years later, he's still going. When he's not running, he enjoys exploring the city with his son, finding new restaurants with his wife, traveling, or backpacking. He loves dark beer, dark chocolate and dark coffee.

Nathan currently lives in Portland, but works in Minneapolis and runs wherever he is. Favorite Minnesota running route is anything that takes him along the Mississippi River.
Race Results.

Nathan's day job is as a senior consultant with Leadership Vision Consulting in Downtown Minneapolis.
Nathan Freeburg
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