A few years ago, frustrated by high race fees and subpar aid-station snacks, my friend Lauren decided to turn trail racing into a DIY adventure. She flagged out a course through the woods, invited everyone she knew and baked a bunch of pies for the finish line.

It was the most fun race I’ve ever done, and it’s become a yearly event.

Start it off. Photo: Julia Raasch

She’s the kind of special snowflake who also hosts her own art shows, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something similar. You can, it’s fun and here are her tips to making it work.

Commit to a time and place

Plan, then have fun. Photo: Stephen Arnold

Waffling right off the bat leads to a lack of inertia. Sure, you want to have allll your friends come, but you’ll waste a ton of time trying to figure out a weekend and location that works for everyone.

Act like a race director: Commit. Send the invite. Make it a reality.

Make a plan

Make it fun. Photo: Luke Porter

Now that you’ve invited people, you actually have to figure out what you’re going to do. And it can be anything: a bike race, orienteering, some kind of batty multisport race. The crucial thing is to have a plan.

Make a course, make sure you know how people are going to get there and figure out if you need a permit for crossing private land or anything like that. Wrangle in a few non-athletes to staff aid stations, run timing (if you’re into that kind of thing) and blast “Eye of the Tiger” at the finish line. Hammer out the details early so you’re not scrambling on race day.

Make it fun

The party is the point. Photo: Tegan Mierle

That’s the cool thing about guerilla racing: You can make your race whatever you want it to be. Think there should be a swimming element in the middle of the run? Line ‘er up. Costumes? Sure, why not. Everyone needs to stop at the midpoint for a dance party? Make it so.

Make the juice worth the squeeze

Perhaps you, like Lauren, were underwhelmed by the sad banana-and-stale-pastry situation at a lot of races. And perhaps you, like me, mainly exercise so you can inhale milkshakes after. Make sure your after-party is on par with the event.

Turn it into a potluck or order a bunch of pizzas. Ice cream and beer are never a bad idea. And neither are music or campfires. Above all, it should be a celebration.

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