Montreal hosted its first Electrodash this past Friday, Aug. 29 at Parc Jean Drapeau. With just over 5,000 participants, Electrodash—a 5 K electronic-themed run—partnered with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) to raise money for cancer research.
Parc Jean Drapeau’s spacious venue was a perfect fit for the event early on, promoting a light-hearted atmosphere within the large crowd. Throngs of runners in Electrodash t-shirts and fun neon accessories—ranging from funky neon sunglasses to full-on neon tutus—were greeted at the starting line with blasting electronic tunes and go-go dancers on elevated platforms beside the crowd.
“[Electrodash Montreal] is definitely a mixed bag of people,” said Zach Elfstrom, a graduate student at McGill studying Public Relations. “You have a group who is hyped up, a group that’s actually running, and the lazy people who are just waiting to party. We were definitely sold on the party aspect of it [.…] We came for the electronic music and the dancing.”
The race was created with three sections of dynamic neon designs to run through—or in the cases of many of the participants––wildly dance through. The first segment was composed of a set of 23 neon arches, followed by a section of trees shaped like asparagus, and finally a stretch of giant inflatable planets and jelly fish, complemented by the narrow path of thick trees. The lights from the skyline and bridges further accented the atmosphere of the run, and a finale by local headline DJs Royce & Tan capped off the night.
Some runners commented that they had had stronger expectations for the electronic aspect of the run.
“The DJ is very nice, but I expected more lights and music [along] the way,” said Marie-Jade Auclair, a student from Université du Québec a Montréal.
Elfstrom expressed similar feelings.
“I thought the lights were going to stretch on, but I didn’t realize there would be so much dark space [during the course],” he said. “The way [Electrodash] was marketed was definitely heavier on the electronic side than on the 5K side.”
Electrodash originated in Salt Lake City. Since then, it has taken place in 11 states across the U.S., three provinces in Canada, overseas in the United Kingdom and Korea, and for the first time next month, Tokyo. Meggan Pingree, Assistant Director of Electrodash Montreal, noted the growing popularity of 5K themed runs.
“EDM is a popular movement, so we wanted to build off of that,” Pingree said. “We call our voice ‘family friendly sarcasm’; we’re not taking ourselves too seriously [….] Our voice sets us apart from a lot of other races [….] It’s a cool way to touch your toes in the crowd without getting intimidated by hard-core runners or hard-core EDM fans.”
Since the time of its inception, Electrodash has partnered with local charities at each location of the race. LLS of Canada, Montreal, is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing funds for research on blood cancers, also circulates information and support for patients.
“[The local charities we partner with] find most of the volunteers for us, and we give a donation per volunteer whether we make money or not,” Pingree said. “There have been some runs where [Electrodash] lost money, but we still give to the charities.”
Despite mixed feelings about the course, runners were ready to dance at the finish line. The crowd in front of DJs Royce & Tan had amazing energy; neon glow-sticks were thrown up in the dark every time the beat dropped, and the participants raved to the eclectic sounds, adding to the beauty of the already vibrant city colours of Montreal.