Monday, September 7, 2015

MDRA vs Team Ortho

The running community sure does have it's sub-cultures.

There are a handful of organizations around the twin cities that put on races, and of course a bunch of groups that do their annual town race or similar one-off type races.

MDRA (Minnesota Distance Runners Association) is not only a race organization but a running community.  They have socials, a quarterly magazine, running training and so on.  I'm a member because it's a a good deal just with the magazine itself, plus if I participate in a couple discounted races it practically pays for itself.  MDRA has been around for over 50 years.

Team Ortho organizes some of the largest races in the state.  I believe Monster DASH has had had close to 20,000 participants in years past.  I believe they are national organization, but have been doing races in this state for about 5 plus years?  I run an organization that benefits from their volunteer program and have paced a few half-marathons with them.

MDRA races are affordable if not free or dirt cheap, sometimes include a free t-shirt, maybe are chip-timed, and usually take place in suburban neighborhoods.  Victory 10k is one of the biggest races they do and has about 500 participants (more if you count the same-day 5k).    

Team Ortho races are expensive, chip-timed, usually include a nice running jacket or a sweatshirt (sometimes additional SWAG).  The half-marathons and one marathon are always paced (sometimes by yours truly ;) ).  You can expect a beer tent, food trucks, pizza and out right party at the end.  All of the Team Ortho races are in downtown Saint Paul or Minneapolis.

When I show up to MDRA races, I can expect to park within a short walk of the start, pick up my bib and basically be ready to go.  The attire of the day is running club singlets, t-shirts quoting Prefontaine and men in their 80s but in nothing a pair of tiny running shorts.  Conversations heard are something between discussion of highschool track days, "who hopes to age-group?", and "how many years have you been doing this race?",  "Will you be participating in next weeks race?" and "do you hope run even more miles later today?"

Team Ortho races are actually two events.  It will be expected that you pre-party (go to the expo to pick up your packet) and then party again (the race)!  Attire is brightly colored designer athletic clothing worn for style and comfort.  Popular T-shirts include jokes about 'the beer at the end', 'how running is torture, but how bout dat ass' and 'your mom'.   Also, don't forget, beaded necklaces, head bands with antenna, face paint and a tutu.  Race chatter includes "Did you hear what kind of beer they are serving at the end?", "who hopes to finish?"  and "What do you plan to 'eat on the run'?"

There are things I hate and love about both these groups, but I think it just makes me laugh to think about how many different kinds of people are runners out there.

EDIT: corrected number of participants in Victory 10 k.


  1. I agree! I'm kinda intimidated by the MDRA ones and I feel like I can blend in with the Team Ortho ones because there are lots of "noobs". I do prefer the MDRA prices and locations though, going downtown all the time is hard, plus the packet pick ups for Team Ortho can get kind of annoying!

    1. I think they definetly embody the opposite ends of the spectrum of the running community. I can get intimidated by MDRA folks too, but everyone is always kind when I talked to them, so it's probably in my head.

  2. I'm interested to check out an MDRA race, as I think I may be aging out of the Team Ortho races.

    1. Well, you are definitely aged in (or under) to MDRA, I feel like the predominant demographic is men in their 50s.