Since 1986, on the Tuesday before Halloween, those who dare step out onto 17th Street Northwest in Washington, D.C., are ready to begin one of the most extravagant running events the District has to offer.
No – this race doesn’t involve the typical running sneakers or athletic shorts.
What this competition requires is only your best high-heeled stilettos, an outfit to match and the endurance to strut your stuff to the finish line.
Thousands of spectators gathered to Dupont Circle in D.C., to celebrate the 28th annual 17th Street High Heel Race Tuesday.
The event, which strictly requires a two-inch heel minimum, featured costumed drag queens running from P to R Street. Some of this year’s costumes included Tina Turner, Dorothy of the “Wizard of Oz,” Sailor Moon and all four Mean Girls.
Michael Littlejohn, of D.C., said it was his third year at the race.
The 28-year-old described the race as a wonderful opportunity to meet people from all walks of life.
“There’s so many people [and] so many types of people,” Littlejohn said. “It’s so entertaining to watch.”
With temperatures in the 70s, participants arrived as early as 6 p.m. to get a good view of the parade, which began at 7 p.m. Afterward, spectators are free to meet the glamourous participants from “Miss America” to the “Playboy Bunnies” as well as take pictures.
Audience members sat on each other’s shoulders hoping to catch a glimpse of the queens running by.
Jackie Naranjo, 27, of Arlington, Va., said she attended the race for the first time this year.
“My roommate told me about it, but I always seemed to miss it,” Naranjo said. “I’ve lived in the area for six years, and now I finally get to see the famous high heel race.”
First-time racer Khayal Guliyed, 33, wore his high heels, a red dress and a blond wig all for the first time Tuesday night.
“It’s so tiring. I feel like I now understand women more,” Guliyed said. “High heels are the worst things to happen to the human race!”
Guliyed is new to America, let alone D.C. He arrived from Azerbaijan two months ago.
“I’m enjoying the freedom because I could never do this type of thing in my country,” Guliyed said.
Feeling like a celebrity was the highlight of Guliyed’s evening, he said.
“Everyone wanted to take a picture of me or with me,” he said. “I loved it!”
Guliyed said he enjoyed his experience so much that he’s made plans to participate again next year.
Nora Tarabishi is a senior journalism major with a minor in Arabic and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.