ARLINGTON — To participate in this race, you need to have some backbone.
What’s up with that?
This spine-tingling event is to create the Largest Cardboard Costume of a spine for a Guinness World Record.
On Saturday morning, a group of chiropractors, runners and ordinary folks can attempt the record at the World Record 5K hosted by Arlington Runners Club.
Participants will be decked out as spinal bones or as nerve tissue. All supplies are provided. Show up at 9 a.m., an hour before the run, at Arlington Municipal Airport to be part of the historic feat.
“It is roughly 500 feet,” said organizer Sarah Kotlerman, a chiropractor at Averio Health Institute in Mount Vernon. “It should be a sight.”
The spine will be “anatomically correct, to some extent,” she said.
Volunteers made the 24 vertebrae using banana boxes, paint and duct tape.
“It was like a giant craft project,” said Ginny White, Arlington Runners Club president.
The supersized spine is a fundraiser for Washington Chiropractic College, which is slated to open in 2024 in Renton and will be the first school in the state to offer a graduate chiropractic degree.
“It is to raise community awareness about the new chiropractic school and about spinal and neurological health,” Kotlerman said.
The field has faced criticism from the broader medical community since its founding in the late 1800s by spiritualist and magnetic healer D.D. Palmer. Still, it remains an increasingly popular form of alternative health care, with an expected job growth rate of 10% predicted over the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Chiropractic care is covered under most health insurance plans.
“People who want to become a chiropractor have to go several states away, so if you have a family you have to pick up your whole family and move for four years,” said Kotlerman, who has a Doctor of Chiropractic degree.
She went to a college in San Francisco. Her father, two brothers, husband and nephew are all chiropractors.
There are more than 70,000 chiropractors in the United States, according to the ACA.
“Not enough chiropractors to meet the demand,” she said. “If I could hire two tomorrow, I would.”
White plans to attend Washington Chiropractic College. She was an office manager for a chiropractor until returning to school to get the 90 credit hours required to enter the college.
A lot of runners go to chiropractors, she said.
But a giant spine theme for a run?
“At first it was hard to envision,” White said. “It’s different than anything we’ve done. I was like, ‘Let’s go out of the box.’”
The spine uses a template from Wisconsin chiropractor Tom Potisk, known for his flamboyant spine foam creations for parades, patient appreciation events and health fair booths. He sells big spine kits of vertebrae body pieces fastened by Velcro.
The group’s cardboard vertebrae costumes are about 4-feet-by-3½-feet-by-3-feet, Kotlerman said.
The project cost about $250 for white duct tape and spray adhesive. Fred Meyer donated 100 banana boxes, which were cut and painted white.
Kotlerman plans to keep the spine pieces after the run to use in parades.
The run’s World Record 5K T-shirts are yellow.
“Neurological tissue is almost always displayed as yellow,” she said. “Going back 100 years, nerves were displayed as yellow, that’s what they looked like when bodies were opened up and put in formaldehyde.”
Saturday’s event will have raffles, food trucks and vendors.
Prizes will be given to those crossing the finish line in fifth, seventh, 12th, 24th and 33rd place.
The significance is for the body’s five lumbar bones, seven cervical bones, 12 thoracic bones, 24 total spine bones — and 33 for the number of chiropractic core principles.
Kotlerman submitted an application with Guinness World Records and will supply the documentation of the giant cardboard formation. It could take six months to be notified if accepted.
To register for the race, go to worldrecord5k.itsyourrace.com. Cost is $40. People can also participate virtually.