August 6, 2012

The Color Run (Race Report)

Many of you have probably heard of these "color runs" that seem to be all the rage lately. When my friend learned that the series was coming to Sacramento a few months ago, she insisted we sign up. I figured it looked pretty cool, and being in the midst of hardcore Ironman training, it was nice to consider a race that was not only short but also whose focus was on fun. That friend then up and moved to Colorado (boo, Erin!), but fortunately a couple other friends from work had signed up, too.

As I've mentioned a few times, lately running has not been going so smoothly. My body hasn't bounced back as quickly as I'd hoped post-Ironman, and my motivation has been M.I.A. Even though this was a 5k, and it wasn't even timed (in fact I'd say the majority of people walked a good chunk of it), I still had some apprehension going into it, like I have with all my runs lately. Basically wondering, "Is this finally going to be the run where it clicks again?" When something that usually feels fairly easy and natural becomes challenging, it becomes hard to enjoy. I only mention this because it most likely influenced my opinion of this experience.

Anyway, I met up with Courtney and Bethany in midtown and we decided to drive halfway and park so as not to worry about parking downtown. We made it with plenty of time to spare and immediately were surrounded by thousands of people dressed in (temporary) white. We wanted to start close to the front to avoid the crowds and not have to wait around all morning, and we lucked out when we spotted a coworker at the Girl's on the Run booth. They were gathering the GotR group to start in the very front to kick off the race, so we hopped in with them and found ourselves in front of the start line!
the before shot

For those of you who may not be familiar with the Color Run, it's a 5k where volunteers at every kilometer squirt you with a different colored powder, leaving you very colorful by the finish line. It's a very casual run, certainly not a race, and it attracted nearly 15,000 people of all kinds. As I mentioned before, these kinds of races have been getting a lot of hype, but for a few reasons, I wasn't very impressed.

The race started out fine, and was surprisingly not crowded at all. I know this was mainly because we started at the front, but also because we ran the whole thing whereas a lot of the other participants walked some or all of the course. While I thought this would actually be a good thing, it actually made it feel kind of lonely, especially considering the type of run this was (the more the merrier!). A few times we found ourselves running down the middle of the street with virtually no one else around us! The first color came up pretty quickly: yellow! You could see the cloud dust of color up ahead and as we approached we just closed our mouths, squinted our eyes, and made our way through. It only lasted maybe 20 yards, and when we emerged on the other side we had a nice dusting of yellow powder.

The rest of the race went by pretty quickly. I didn't wear my Garmin and there were no markings on the course, so I had no idea where we were, other than by kilometers based on the colors. One thing I noticed after the second color (pink!) was that these powders have a not-so-cool reaction to sweat. They turn into something resembling food coloring, bleed together, and leave you looking more dirty than colorful. The pink on my face turned into a red, giving me a lovely zombie look to sport. The powder also had a knack for getting into unwanted places, like the mouth, ears, nose, and cleavage.

We finished around a half hour and came down the finish chute all alone, meanwhile thousands of people were still waiting in waves just to start! Apparently one of the best parts of these events is the finish festival, but since so few people were done, there wasn't much to see or do. We were about to leave when we saw a crowd growing by the stage, opening individual packets of color and releasing them into the air! It was actually a pretty cool sight to see, so we decided to stay for a bit and enjoy the music and dancing. Honestly I felt pretty gross at that point as my colors had dried into a brown mess, so I was happy when we called it quits and walked home.
the aftermath

Anyone else done one of these events? What are your thoughts?


  1. Glad I could read a first hand account of the race. My friends wanted me to do one of these in Seattle but it just didn't grab me. I've done the Warrior Dash which was fun but the idea of getting colored powder in my eyes just didn't hold the same appeal. At least you can say you've done it and cross it off the list.....moving on!

  2. Nice pics. never done a color run...but looks pretty fun.

  3. Thanks for the honest commentary! i was asked to do one but the entry fee isn't really in my budget (although it's small Ironman killed me!). Now that I've read your recap I'm kind of thinking it'll be ok if I skip it!

  4. The whole concept really turns me off. I sweat like a beast when I run so I can't imagine what I'd end up looking like! Thanks for the candid review, will avoid this fad :)

  5. I wanted to do the Color Run sooo bad! Just for some reason it didn't match up with my schedule.. Boooo!!! Looks like you had fun though!! :)

  6. Ah - that looks so fun! I'm bumbbed I missed it! But more importantly, you're in the Bay now right? Drinks soon?