The Red Dress Run

red dress run

The Red Dress Run

Sponsored by the Hash House Harriers, a self-proclaimed “drinking club with a running problem,” the Annual Red Dress Run through the French Quarter and Downtown is a uniquely New Orleans event that doubles as a fundraiser for breast cancer research and other charities.

Open to men and women alike, the run is somewhere between three and four miles. (No one knows, because no one clocks it exactly.) Participants begin assembling, registering – and drinking – at 9 a.m!

There’s live music before and after the race, which begins at 12:30 p.m. If you’re over 21 and have a good sense of humor, you can participate. Also: you must recognize that August in New Orleans is HOT. Wearing a red dress is an absolute requirement, even for men.

(Don’t worry, if you didn’t pack a red dress, the Hash House Harrier Haberdashery is sure to have one in your size.)

Known as NOH3, the club’s main purpose is to have fun, celebrate the joys of the city and raise money for worthy causes. Members are known for their love of drinking while wearing outlandish costumes, singing raucous songs and using any excuse for a party. They run (although not always in a straight line) every weekend of every month.

The race got its start when the Harriers were in Southern California in 1987. A lady wearing a red dress and heels was introduced to the club. She wanted to run, but she was told to ‘wait in the truck’ due to her attire. So she ran it anyway. The next year, the members all ran the race in a red dress and heels. And the Red Dress Run was born.

Only a race by technicality, this is more of a pub crawl. A small percentage of people ever finish the race at all.

Things to Know

  • Because it is so hot in August, hydration (not just alcohol!) is absolutely necessary.
  • Parking is available across from Armstrong Park for a fee, but as always, we suggest taking an Uber to make things easier on yourself. The race may actually be in Crescent Park this year — it’s kept a secret until the day of the event.
  • Your ticket into the park entitles you to unlimited food and drink, so enjoy yourself, but pace yourself if you plan to actually run.
  • Serious runners might want to be patient with revelers — this has historically been a “race” that rarely involves any running. Let the event be fun for the people around you, and try to enjoy it for what it is.
  • Wear sunscreen and sunglasses. (And a red dress.)
  • Your race fee includes access to a dress, so unless you really want to make a scene with a nice one, don’t spend the extra money.
  • Port-o-potties are available, but might not be when you need them most. Make a note of where they are and anticipate.
  • You may want to bring a backpack to store your goods — especially men who are used to always having pockets. Those dresses don’t have any storage!
  • Rain is always a possibility in New Orleans, so be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. (Red poncho, anyone?)
  • This event almost has a Mardi Gras vibe with the streets packed shoulder to shoulder … except for this time, it’s a sea of red, instead of purple, green and gold.

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