Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Color in Motion 5K race report

I remember the first time I heard about a "color run" -- an event where you run a 5K while being gradually covered in different colors of bright powder. I had recently started working at Brooks and thought, wow, what a great event for Brooks to sponsor. I mean, can you imagine if the "blue" station was all Brooks?

Unfortunately we were also then sponsoring the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series -- unfortunate in that our events budget was totally tapped out for the year -- though the head of marketing thought it sounded fun.

Fast forward a few years, and it seemed like everyone was holding "fun" runs of one sort or another. In the meantime, they somehow became a divisive issue in running... Apparently, "real runners" don't run these sort of runs. In fact, according to The Color Run -- who I believe invented the color run idea, and are holding 100 events in 2013 -- 60% of their participants are doing their first 5K.

Color runs, mud runs, foam runs, zombie runs... what's so offensive to "real runners"? One thing might be that most of these events aren't timed. And maybe "real runners" only care about time? I say, the more the merrier. Get people out there and moving -- whether at a walk, a jog, or a 4-minute mile. And if to entice people out you give them a party along the way? Awesome!

That said... I had never run any sort of "fun" race. Sure, I'd run a few 5Ks, but most of them were at the beginning of my running life. I just don't enjoy them enough -- I like the feeling of achievement after a half marathon.... Besides, for a 5K, I spend waaaaay more time getting to the race, getting parked, and waiting for the start than I do actually running the race. (And I am decidedly NOT fast...)

So this year I decided to pick out a bunch of different types of "fun" run to do. In my race calendar you'll see I have a color run, a mud run, a zombie run or two, and others I'm hoping to add in. Why not? I'm up for it!

Last Saturday Team Wil-Sun ran the Color in Motion 5K, held down in Tacoma. Yes, it was an awful long way to go for a 5K, but it seemed like fun and the date worked for us both.

Image courtesy the Color in Motion 5K
I have to admit I didn't know what to expect when we arrived -- early -- at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma.  I wanted to get there early so we could pick up our packet, since we couldn't drive all the way down to T-town on the Friday night for the official packet pickup. But we got parked, got in the fast-moving line, and exchanged our "tickets" for a bag containing a bib, a white "Color in Motion 5K" t-shirt, a couple of temporary tattoos, and a wristband. We then went back to the car to relax... and customize our shirts. (Yeah, I brought sewing scissors, didn't you?)

We passed the 90 minutes before the start by going across the street to Fred Meyer for some random, early-morning shopping. We weren't the only "color chasers" to be milling about the store! We also had a look at the orange color station -- a few dozen yards before the finish line:

all clean... an hour before the start
tubs of color!
squeeze bottles full of color
But eventually we headed back to the car, and then we made our way to the start. As usual, there were super long lines for the porta-potties... until we went over to the start, which was the front of the stadium, and discovered that the stadium bathrooms were open. Sweet!

pre-race photo (you don't often see me in white!)
We went and stood next to the starting area -- I didn't feel like I needed to wedge myself into a corral, feeling that I would just slide in when people started moving forward. The organizers had announced that they were going to start everyone in waves every 10 minutes... but they didn't close off the sides of the corrals, so people just kept filling in from the front. But we stood in the chute and danced around a bit, and tried not to get too bored. They were playing cute dance music, and announcing each start with a blast of color fired from a fire extinguisher.

milling around at the start... photo blurred by the ziplock bag we used to protect the phone!
Eventually, in either the third or the fourth wave, we were let loose. There was a bit of awkward navigating around folks with strollers, big groups of walkers, and so on, but within about 50 yards we had pretty much cleared all the other runners in our wave.

Now, three days before the race, the organizers sent out an email saying that "Due to restrictions with the City of Tacoma, color packets will be handed out at the finish line only." Wow. What did THAT mean? Did it mean that there wouldn't be any color at all? Wil and I considered actually not bothering to go, since it wasn't clear to us whether the course would still be colorful or not. (Apparently I wasn't alone in this worry -- their Facebook page had a lot of comments on it... but I didn't look at it until after the run...)

clean shirt... just waiting for color
But at the time of the start, we didn't know what was going on. We ran and ran and ran... I'd estimate that it was well over 1K... closer to 1 mile... colorless. We kept passing people and overhearing them ask each other when the color would start. But then, around a corner, I saw a cloud of color!

We rounded a corner and saw ... oddly enough ... a line. Yes, a line to go through the color station. I'm not going to lie, we considered avoiding the station so we didn't have to wait in line. But then I reminded myself that we were there in order to get colored-up, so we relaxed a bit and let the color-chasing begin!

Yellow was our first stop... we watched people drop to the floor and roll around in the color, but I just thought I'd see how much color we'd pick up by running through. Turns out, we picked up plenty:

me and ol' Yellowbeard...
I'm not gonna lie -- it was fun. Really fun. I mean, who doesn't love getting blasted with brightly colored powder?
"it was all yellow" - Coldplay
After passing that station, we had pretty smooth running the rest of the race. We never had another crowd at a color stop, which meant we got plenty of attention from the color-givers. Or whatever they were called.

The running part was a little boring -- we ran mainly through a residential neighborhood that was pleasant enough, but I did keep fretting about how much color was on their streets. Well, near the color stations, anyway. (Yes, that's why they didn't hand out color packets beforehand.) But we ran along, playing with the different colors. At the green station, Wil decided to stop, drop, and roll in the powder on the ground... after all, green is his favorite color!

The orange station just before the end was pretty crazy -- I got a facefull of power... but it was cool. We crossed the finish line in... well... who knows how long? We hadn't timed it, and neither had the organizers. I'm cool with that.

We picked up a couple of different packets of color -- though the distribution was a little haphazard. I was somehow desperate to get purple or blue powder, but never managed to get any other than a little handful from a boy standing near the finish....

immediately after the finish ... I had NO IDEA I was so dusted
The crowd was growing at the finish party -- more dance music... and lots of packets of color.

And before long, what with all the color-flinging, we looked like this:

I love that Wil's nose and forehead are GREEN
We hung around a while, enjoying the vibe... but then we decided it was time to head home. Still, we made time for a few pictures:



it's not easy being green...

I love that my glasses were covered, too 

team photo!
Did we have fun? Yes. I loved all the color and the happy people. It was fun to see kids excited to run ... you know, in the real world. But would I do another color run? Not sure. I think that the Color in Motion group put on a pretty good event, but Tacoma is too far away. Maybe if they had an event in Seattle I would consider it. Would I recommend a color run to anyone else? Sure... as long as they weren't hoping for a PR.
"after" -- the shirts hanging outside

my Adrenaline GTS kicks may never recover

Have you ever done a color run? Any other fun run? Would you recommend it?

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