Running with a Dash of Color

I finally did the Color Run

For years I’d heard about the Color Run, known as the happiest 5K on earth. It always looked like a blast, like the Holi festival in India but much closer. The one thing that was holding me back was up until last year, I hated running. Like, seriously hated it. The mile was the worst part about gym class (which is saying something since my class was filled with athletes who got really competitive). After I graduated from college, I decided to give it a try and found that I really enjoyed it. When there’s no one yelling at you for power walking part of the way and not running the entire time, it becomes much more enjoyable.

I found out about the color run being in the Twin Cities how I find out about most new, fun things lately: on Facebook. (The ability to be able to search events happening near you is one of my favorite and most used features of Facebook). None of the friends that I regularly hung out with liked to run. Most of my comments about running were responded to with “why? were you being chased?”. I’d laugh it off and go for a run the next day. Doing things by myself hasn’t ever bothered me but this was something that would be more fun with friends. So I put out a Facebook status and within an hour had 2 friends signed up to go. We ordered our race packets (there’s many options to choose from) and even came up with a team name: The Colorful Cobbers. (Cobber is the mascot of Concordia College. And yes it is a corn cob. We happily embrace all the mocking and puns that come with it).

On race day, we get up early to a bright sunny day. If only… Instead we woke up to a thunderstorm warning. On the Facebook event, no one was sure what was going on. We show up to the Minnesota State Fair Grounds anyway since we hadn’t heard anything about the event getting cancelled. It’s cloudy but not raining and not very humid. Minnesota can get really hot and humid in July so we weren’t complaining with the appearance of the cooler weather. Despite the fact that I’ve been running more, running in the heat is still not something that I’m excited about.

clean color run.png

(Note our very clean faces and bright white race shirts. They don’t stay like that for very long!)

Standing around at start waiting for the race to start was fun. Music was playing and people were everywhere! They were running around to get their race bibs (which I found out are the numbers that they pin to the back of their shirts) and find a friend who could pin them on without poking themselves. When that was done there were endless pictures being taken and camaraderie amongst the racers, antsy to get moving.

The closer it got to the race start time the closer everyone huddled. By this point you could hear the music better and most people were dancing or at least singing. They start with some rule which basically came down to: walk on the left, run on the right. Then had us repeat it multiple times. But the most important rule, they said, is have fun! They reiterated that this race is about fun but you can get your race time at the end. By this point most people were getting antsy, chatty, and just wanting to move. Which is interesting when you have this many people.

crowded color run.png

(There was a lot of people who showed up to run and this was only one of the three start times!)

They let off the signal and…we go nowhere. Apparently we thought that we were closer to the front than we actually were. After what seems like a minutes and was probably only a few seconds, we start moving. We jog through the state fairgrounds, weaving in between people who are walking or jogging even slower than we were. The people who were here to run take off as soon as we start and you can see them blazing ahead. But running this like it’s a race (well it kind of is but we didn’t run it that way) that means that you miss out on the really fun part: the color stations.

What’s fun about the color stations (besides the fact that you get to run through a cloud of color) is that you can get as much or as little color thrown on you as you want. The hardcore runners that blaze through the stations don’t get much color on them. But my friends and I slowed to get handfuls of color thrown on us. The people working the color stations just keep throwing on the color. Which is great if you want to get color all over you since all you have to do is stand there or turn around for complete color coverage. There’s six stations (pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple) so if you miss out on getting hit with one color (when I was going through green the color station workers were refilling their green powder) you have more chances for color. Don’t worry you will get plenty of color thrown on you, which is good since that’s kind of the point of the color run.

messy color run.png

(Told you that we didn’t stay clean for long! We’re colorful and messy but still smiling and having a blast.)

All three of us really liked the blue and purple stations. Yellow has always been one of my favorites so I couldn’t miss out on that one! My one regret is wishing that I got more green on me but they were refilling their buckets as we came through. Just over 3 miles of pure fun. And when the race is over, the fun doesn’t stop there. They give you a race medal and a packet of color to toss in the air. The only trick is getting the color packets open. Bring a friend with long nails or strong teeth. Then you can you use the color however you want. (We had a color fight). And if you didn’t spend enough energy running, there’s a stage and a DJ so you can keep celebrating.

Color Run is so much fun and we saw quite a few people who walked the whole way. So even if you aren’t a runner you can have some fun. We even saw a couple people with strollers or small children. Walk or run you can still enjoy the color. But if you are a runner who does other 5Ks just be warned that this is more about getting as colorful as possible than it is about running.

If you’re thinking of trying it, I say go for it! But here’s a few tips for you before you do.

  1. They have multiple start times (I always like to start things earlier, plus one of us had a job to get to afterwards) so you don’t to get up early for this if you aren’t a morning person. I
  2. There’s multiple stations throughout the route that have water and gatorade so no worries if you get thirsty.
  3. The color seriously gets everywhere. It’s a superfine powder so when I took off my shirt I found that the color went through it. So if you bring a phone/camera make sure to have a case or plastic bag over it otherwise the powder will be all over it.
  4. We didn’t know this before we went but the powder is corn-based so if you have any corn allergies that might affect you. Also since the powder tends to linger in the air, there were a few people with bandanas around their neck for when they went through the color stations.
  5. The color comes off easily when you wash your clothes (it doesn’t stain) and when you shower, but it doesn’t brush off. So on your way home I highly recommend covering the seats of your car. We used garbage bags but towels would work too
  6. Bring a few friends and don’t be afraid to get messy! In fact, the messy you get the more fun you have.

Check out all my Color Run photos at my Flick: inventivenessofamillennial. Or you can find the full album here.

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