Running 26.2 miles in fancy dress is anything but easy. If you’re thinking of taking on a marathon in a running costume, check out these tips to help you make the most of your experience.

Costume running is a great way to raise money for charity - particularly the Virgin Money London Marathon , which, year on year sees thousands of runners tackling the distance in extravagant outfits in the name of charity. If you’re considering making your marathon experience even more memorable by wearing a race day costume, here are eight tips you need to know.

1. Modify your costume

Your chosen costume is probably perfect for a fancy dress party, but is it really fit for running a marathon in? The answer is ‘probably not’, but that’s what makes fancy dress running such a great fundraising idea. Try to make sure your costume is made from lightweight materials to ensure you stay as comfortable as possible when running. You might need to adapt your outfit to include extra ventilation too. You also need to ensure you can actually see and breathe in your costume. If your costume does impair your vision, it might be worth running with a friend who can guide you around the course. Another important thing to consider - how will you go to the toilet? Again you may need to modify the costume so that you’re not caught short.

2. Train in your costume

Race day is too late to find out that your costume needs alterations and isn’t suitable to run 26.2 miles in. The best way to test it out is to train in it. Complete some long runs in your costume to imitate what you’ll experience on race day. You could also try training with a weighted backpack on to mimic the additional weight of a costume. You should never wear new gear for a race - fancy dress costumes included. After you’ve trained in your costume, you’ll have a much better idea of any further modifications you need to make on your outfit.

3. Consider the weather

As the famous saying goes: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” But when you’re planning to run a marathon in a costume, you might argue against this expression. If it rains on the day of your race and your costume gets wet, will it weigh you down? Or if it’s windy, will your costume be a danger to yourself or other runners? On the flip side, if it’s extremely hot then remember that you’re going to sweat a lot more if you’re inside a costume. Unlike technical running gear that’s designed to draw sweat away from your skin, a costume will trap heat - making it harder for you to run. Bear these questions in mind and try to plan and adapt your costume accordingly.

4. Think about how you’ll get your costume to the start line

If you’re travelling to your marathon, then you definitely need to think about how you’ll get your costume to the start line. Remember that public transport on the day of your marathon will likely be busier, and you might need a hand carrying your outfit so ask a friend in advance. Nerves will already be running high on the morning of your race - don’t give yourself something else to panic about. Plan ahead to make your life easier.

5. Take on more fluid during the race

If you’re running a marathon in fancy dress, you’ll probably sweat a lot more than someone who is running in a vest in shorts so it’s therefore important that you take on more fluids. In order to do this, you need to make sure that you can actually drink in your costume. As well as practising running in your costume, you need to rehearse your fuelling strategy too. If you are going to be sweating a lot in your outfit, you’ll also need to take on some electrolytes to replace the salts that you’ll lose.

6. Aiming for a World Record?

For many runners, taking on a marathon in full costume is not only an opportunity to raise money for a charity close to their heart but also the chance to break a world record. Visit the Guinness World Records website for everything you need to know about the application process. If you’re in need of some inspiration, check out these 20 record breaking costumes from the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon .  

7. Raise more money for charity

You’ve hopefully had lots of donations in the lead up to your marathon, but once people see you running in your costume on the day, you’re sure to get even more. Let’s face it, you’re probably not going to run a marathon PB while you’re dressed as a rhino, but you will raise a lot of money for your charity. Make sure you clearly display the name of the charity you’re running for on your costume so that any spectators who want to donate can.

8. Enjoy it!

If you’re running in costume, you can expect a lot of attention and support from spectators and fellow runners. People will be cheering your name, you’ll probably be asked to pose for photograph two and the sight of your costume out on the course could be just the inspiration your fellow runners need to keep going. In short, it might be the closest to being a celebrity you’ll ever get so make sure you enjoy every second of the experience.

Picture Credit: Bikeworldtravel /