Run Free’s Fake Marathon Provides Laughs but Offends Some Runners

Marathons are difficult. They can be exhausting, sweaty, even humiliating. Sure, they come with the satisfaction of knowing you did the hard work of running a marathon, but when that’s not enough to get you to tie up your laces, the creative people at came up with another idea: stage a fake marathon.

The event, being staged in February, is counting on participants to snap pictures of themselves preparing for the race, showing off their race gear, and pretending to run, then compile all of those online to make it seem like the race really happened. It comes complete with T-shirts, race bibs, medals and race times, just no actual running. That’s why it’s called Run Free 2023, because the race is run-free. Participants are instructed to promote it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media to spread the word and get people talking about “the greatest race that never was.” hosts all of the information about how to sign up. Backers who pledge certain amounts of money get special race packets that include the Run Free gear. Their goal was $999, but they reached their fundraising goal in under an hour, and ended up raising more than $15,000 to fund the project.

The concept is more of a social experiment than anything, bent on finding out if something can be proven simply by providing photos and evidence. But is it offensive to real marathon runners?

The creators say that it’s not. In one comment left as a reply to an angry marathoner on’s coverage of the project: “We’re not trying to offend runners at all. In fact, we’ve actually got lots of real marathoners signed up for the race, and I myself am training for my first half marathon in the spring. It’s not at all meant to be a slam on marathons or running…it’s more of a playful commentary on what makes something “real” online,” wrote Kyle Scheele, one of the event organizers.

So if Run Free 2023 is a playful jest, is it doing any good beyond providing a laugh? The creators explain in their Frequently Asked Questions section on Kickstarter that they won’t be getting a lot of proceeds from the project, as they have to produce all of the race paraphernalia and send it out. Even if they did, Kickstarter doesn’t allow funding of charities as they strictly want to help fund the endeavors of creative artists.

Something Run Free is participating in as a sort of charity is Kicking it Forward, which will give 5% of their profits to other Kickstarter projects, and they’ve said they may give more than that if they have more profit.

Maybe there’s a good balance to each viewpoint of whether the run is offensive or not. Sometimes doing something ridiculous can be a lot of fun, and you may meet some interesting people along the way. For those who join the movement, go out, get creative, and have a good time. Just remember to also support actual causes that benefit those who need help, and at some point, do some actual running because we all need the exercise.

Also Read:

New York City Marathoners Run Anyway in Race to Recover 

Race Medals as Christmas Tree Ornaments

5 Running Lessons from a Boston Marathon Finisher

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