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Running in unconventional attire

By Shira Springer
Globe Staff / April 15, 2011

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Feeling the urge to run 26.2 miles dressed more appropriately for Halloween than a marathon? Bring lots of Vaseline. Somewhere between Hopkinton and Boston, costume parts are going to slip, slide, and rub. Consider it the price to pay for getting all dressed up and amusing spectators and fellow runners.

During the 2010 Boston Marathon, Sam Novey completed the course dressed in a burger suit. The stretch Lycra and foam “suit’’ is a burger encircling the runner’s midsection and secured by suspenders. As far as marathon costumes go, it is relatively practical, allowing arms and legs freedom of movement.

Still, members of what is now known as the “Burger Brigade’’ — a group of 10 teams planning to run Boston this year in burger suits to raise money for the Back On My Feet charity — train in costume. Mostly it’s to raise awareness, but it also provides an opportunity to test the costume’s run-ability. For example, Novey admits the costume “creates its own ecosystem’’ after miles of running. Something nice to know before race day.

Last year, Victor Wong ran the final 10 miles of the Boston course with Novey as a super-sized sweet potato fry. His head and arms poked out from the large, orange rectangle. “Wearing the costume was a little like being a 7-foot monster,’’ Wong said. The costume shifted his center of mass and slipped off his shoulders more than he would’ve liked. This year, he’ll run the marathon as a burger.

So, just as marathon coaches advise not wearing new shoes for a race, a marathon is no time to try a new costume, whether a burger suit, a French fry, tutu and tiara, a brightly colored wig, or something considerably more cumbersome.

That said, wearing a burger suit requires as much mental as physical preparation.

“You’ve got to own the burger,’’ said Novey. “You are the Burgerman or Burgerwoman. It’s a state of mind, not a state of dress.’’

SHIRA SPRINGER

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