I wanted to share with you a new running experience that happened last week. I had the pleasure of sharing the experience with (newer) SFFR members Dustin Finkle and Mike Meola, along with new acquaintances Matthew Hernandez and David Gebhart. It was called the Color Run 5K and it was probably the most fun I have had running in a long time, if not ever!
To begin with I thought of the Color Run 5K as a "mud run for beginners." A sort of less dirty, not so difficult, no obstacle course that really had the prime idea of training you to get soot in your face and move on without making a fuss about it. But in reality it belongs in a whole new category separate from mud runs/obstacle races and road races.
When they said that the Color Run 5K was a fun run, they really mean it. I have done fun runs like a turkey trot or Bay to Breakers, and run a race with a friend at their pace (making it non-competitive for me), and even been in low key races like the DSE races that involve a chalk line, stop watch, and a ribbon for the winner but even those seemed competitive by comparison. Not only was there no chip timing and no bib timing but there wasn't even a clock! And frankly, why should there be? In mud races there is a heavy emphasis on fun but one can still challenge themselves and enjoy the course while pushing themselves to the limit. But if you were to push yourself at the Color Run you would miss the whole point of the run: the color!
The required uniform was a white t-shirt so everyone went from pale sea of cotton to a brilliant rainbow collection that resembled varicolored marbles that any 10 year old would envy by the end of 5K. At each kilometer of the run volunteers would coat the runners with a powdered natural dye, made primarily from cornstarch. Although not poisonous to eat it taste a lot like chalk and I wouldn't recommend keeping your mouth open.
But that didn't stop many people from going to extremes to get really dirty. At each color zone the ground was covered in colored dust. So much so that if a runner didn't get enough color splattered on them by a volunteer a few adventurous types would roll around on the ground! Even that was a bit much for me, but I did compromise and roll myself on the hood of a car that some poor soul parked far too close to a color zone (it will certainly need a carwash later).
At the end of most road races and mud runs you get a feeling of victory and a well deserved rest on a runners high. Usually they have a DJ playing music and everyone lays on the grass sweaty and tired from their efforts. Not at the Color Run! The party is just getting started. Here, after the race, the race volunteers corral you into the "party zone" which instantly catches your attention as more volunteers hurl packets of dye into the air for runners to catch. Of course as part of your race packet you get a small packet of dye and this was the time to use it. Most, like me, used it ahead of time. I accidentally squeezed my pink dye packet and blew it into Dustin's face on the count of 1 when we were supposed to go to 3 (I like to say I gave him pink eye ;). I will say we got just a messy and colorful in the party zone as we did on the course.
The amazing thing about the party zone is the energy that the crowd brings with it. Without too much energy being spent on a hard effort you have so much more to spare and when you pack happy energized people into a densely populated area magic happens. For example, I am not one to dance at clubs. I hate being crowded or getting people's sweat on me. However, packed in their with dirty sweaty people and awesome tunes I jumped up and danced like someone put a gun to my head! I can honestly say I have never finished off a race in such high spirits and in such a good mood.
The truth be told this is the first race I have ever run that took all the competitive elements out of it. I had always reveled in the victory of achieving a new personal record, or when it comes to mud runs that you can't compare, taking pride knowing that you gave a great effort. But in this case I never really knew just how much fun a run could be when you take all of that away. Although I haven't been racing for decades or anything like that I can say I am genuinely surprised to find that I have overlooked such great aspects of running. I'm sure the dye helped though ;)
You can check out the member profiles of myself, Dustin Finkle, and Mike Meola for more pictures of this fantastic event. Hands down, most fun run ever!
p.s. Happy Birthday to Dustin who turned *cough cough sneeze* years old on that day.