Dream Race: Ikea 5K

As a runner, I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting races to participate in. Just to clarify,  when I say “new and interesting,” I’m talking about events with unique themes or ones that take place in exceptional locales, like the 5K I recently ran at SafeCo Field. I have ZERO interest in shaking up my race routine with extreme distances. There are plenty of people out there who enjoy a good marathon or the even more ridiculous ultramarathon. But that kind of self-flagellation just isn’t for me.

I don’t always sign up for these offbeat events, but I still like discovering them and knowing they’re there. My wife and I spend more time than I care to admit planning out weekend trips to cool cities based around half marathons we’ll never actually run.

However, I recently imagined a dream race that I would 100% commit to participating in, if it existed. This bizarre event would perfectly combine our country’s love of box store shopping with its newfound infatuation with bib numbers and finisher’s medals.

This dream race is the Ikea 5K!

See? The Ikea 5K is already mapped out.

Could there be any more natural location for a race than an Ikea? While I haven’t measured it, the Ikea maze feels never-ending, so I have to assume it’s at least three miles long. And even if their linoleum trail comes up a little short, the organizers can simply add mileage via the acres and acres of parking lot. There’s at least a full kilometer between where I usually park and the entrance to the store.

Additionally, the Ikea 5K would be extremely flat and easy to follow, thanks to all the arrows that usually escort zombie-like customers to the end of their brightly lit labyrinth. The Swedish Food Market would provide a perfect midpoint for the race, where participants could recharge with cookies, choklad, and apple soda.

The course would be a tad narrow, so running separate heats is a must. The last thing even the most enthusiastic competitor wants to see are other runners sustaining gruesome injuries because they got hip-checked into Ikea’s very angular desks and workstations.

The real challenge of an Ikea 5K would be the will power it would take for consumers runners to make it through the entire store without stopping abruptly to look at non-functioning bathrooms and ridiculously shaped lamps. This would be less of a problem for me, but a real issue for my wife. She’d have to summon every ounce of strength in order to avoid abruptly stopping and wandering into the “cookshop & tableware” section.

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Walls of boxes mean the finish line is close.

Participants in this ingenious race would get that “almost to the finish line” high when they reached the self-service furniture area. Once they entered the valley of corrugated cardboard, the adrenaline would surge, allowing them to dig deep and find that final kick to get them to the finish line.

And what a finish line it would be!

One of the only things that feels better than completing a race is finishing an afternoon trip through Ikea. There’s that euphoric relief that washes over you when you reach the registers at the maze’s end; a pleasure which is further heightened if you manage to spend less than $200. Combine these two blissful moments and you’re looking at rapturous experience that could alter the way you see the world.

After being awarded a finisher’s medal made out of compressed wood, runners would partake in a post-race snack that would forsake the usual bananas and bagels in favor of Swedish meatballs and vanilla froyo.  And if you’re awaiting the arrival of a slower-paced friend or family member, simply pick up the kids from Småland and spend some time perusing the “as is” section for great deals on slightly blemished merchandise.

This race needs to happen and we need to make it happen.

Write your congressmen, call the Swedish consulate, tweet at your local Ikea store!

Låt oss köra en 5K!

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