Two years ago, after moving to Maine on a bit of a whim, Jake Holz dressed as a beer bottle to run the Portland Trails' "Trail to Ale" 10K.
Later, he dressed as pie in honor of National Pie Day and ran all over his new hometown, Portland.
When he was hired as a receiver and driver by Cuddledown, the bedding and home goods maker, Holz laid out an unusual pitch: "I've made suits before and run, and it seems to do well . . ."
That brings us to Phill Power, the running Cuddledown pillow, and last month's Dempsey Challenge 10K.
"I suggest everybody should dress up and run through the city of Lewiston and have everyone think you're great," Holz said.
More from the man behind the pillow.
Name: Jake Holz
How many uncostumed miles do you average running a week? 18 to 25 miles a week.
What's the Cuddledown suit made of? The Phill Power pillow costume took about three weeks to design and make. We went through three different designs, finally opting for a cardboard structure with two batting layers followed by a cloth layer (for) the finished pillow, and finally covered with the Cuddledown pillowcase. The first race was a small disaster, but with some modifications for the Dempsey Challenge things went much smoother. None of this would have been possible without the help and guidance of Linda Beaulieu. She was the linchpin that kept the entire project on track. Her knowledge of down and bedding products will not be surpassed!
A "small disaster"? In our first race, our design had one crucial flaw, which was that the pillow suit had two separate movable pieces, a body and head. We covered this up with one giant sheet of fabric with my head sticking out of it. When I was running the head would fall backwards and the neck hole rode up into my neck. Not ideal running form but really hilarious now that I'm thinking about it.
How comfortable is the modified pillow? The suit is made for colder temperatures so a fall/winter race would be ideal. Now that the temperature has dropped I could see myself wearing it all day.
What's the most common reaction when someone sees you? People love it. Kids come up and high five.
Highlight of your Dempsey Challenge experience: The amazing amount of positive feedback I received from the city of Lewiston. Everyone should get that much encouragement when they run. Every other person came forward to shout some words of encouragement. I don't think my feet ever really touched the ground!
Playing on your iPod during a run: I definitely like to listen to upbeat, fast-paced music when I run. I've been listening to a lot of Mastodon.
How much work does it take to cultivate your mutton chops? The chops started growing in early August and just kind of happened. They were great for a short bit of time but I've cleaned up my face since.
So you've been a beer bottle, a pie, a pillow. What's next? For Halloween I went all out on a zombie suit that came out wonderfully. After that, the only ideas I have kicking around would be to make a giant scissor suit (. . .running w/scissors, Ha!).