If you have claustrophobia, you might want to skip this race. Just when you thought running venues couldn’t get any crazier, the town of Hutchinson, Kansas outdid everyone.
This past Saturday, the town hosted their annual Mine Run 5k. This is definitely one of the quirkier races out there.
As their website states:
This is a unique 5K cross country style run 650 feet below the earth’s surface in a salt mine. You will need to wear a helmet and bring a light. We recommend a bike helmet. Helmets will be subject to approval by staff. Every participant will receive a Tee shirt and Bib. The first 350 runners to sign up are guaranteed a medal.
In order to accommodate the number of runners, waves of 30 were dispatched down the elevator. To put it in perspective, this race occurs at a depth underground that is taller than the space needle.
The initial start is well lit and easy to navigate. However, the later legs of the run are nothing short of maze-like. On Reddit, one runner counted 66 turns into the abyss. Occasionally, he almost missed the turns because they were buried in salt. Moreover, the latter half was done in complete darkness (hence, the need for a light). The runner captured his entire journey on video.
The adventurous Redditor gave some final parting thoughts on the overall experience:
This race was everything I expected it to be, and totally worth the whirlwind trip to Kansas. Given that this is a fairly small event that is primarily a fundraiser for the salt mine museum, I’m ok with the fact that they didn’t have chip timing or official results. However if they were to ask me what would attract more runners, I would suggest:
- Chip timing with results and awards.
- Tech shirt (the race shirt was your standard cotton tee).
- Longer distances – either by looping or extending the course. We were told there are about 150 miles of tunnels in the mine, but I don’t know if the grid layout would make it too difficult to create a longer non-looping route. Or if other areas aren’t so suitable for running.
- My wife also suggested playing music out on the course. This might be fun, but I kind of enjoyed the solitude along with the darkness.
Even if they never do any of the above, I think it’s a fantastic event and would recommend it to anyone who wants to go. All of the above would increase the cost, which could drive away casual participants, ultimately undermining (hahaha) the primary goal of fundraising. It was pretty great as-is.