Yesterday morning was my first Color Run. Marketed as "the happiest 5k on the planet", runners and walkers work through a course lined with color stations with the intent of getting color blasted along the way. To mix things up a little bit, The Color Run created a "kaleidoscope" theme for old and new runners alike.
Packet Pick Up
The packet pick up "party" was held at Butler Field right behind the Art Institute. There were two days for in-person packet pick up, an race day pick up and a mailing option. With over 15,000 participants, the options were welcomed. Since I work in downtown, I decided to do the in-person pick up on my lunch break.
Going with members from our team, we arrived to find a line but didn't have to wait for more than five or ten minutes. Pick up was super fast and we were out in less than five minutes. The gear was really nice for the investment (we did have a small discount for registering early as a team). Swag this year included a shoulder sling bag, t-shirt, headband, wristband and tattoos.
The shirt is cotton but it's really soft!
I heard from former participants that a color packet is usually included but because people were not saving them until the finish, we had to redeem a strip from our bib this year to claim one at the end of the race.
I feel like a lot of thought had to go into this race because of the color powder. So here are my quick list of things to at least think about:
*You don't have to have sunglasses for your eyes or a bandanna for your mouth. It's totally useful but not necessary. Just be aware of the big color bombs.
*Sandwich bag for your phone and small personal belongings. I taped the excess plastic around my phone because I knew I wanted to take [fuzzy] pictures.
*Color gets everywhere so don't even bother trying to avoid it!
*Baby wipes will help make your hands usable and face presentable so grab a travel pack from your local drug store.
*Don't try to run the entire thing. Seriously.
In traditional fashion, I laid out all of my items the night before. I woke up at 5:00am (eek!) so I would have plenty of time to get ready and hop on the bus, which I was hoping to catch at 6:10. I decided to sport most of my Color Run gear; I got my tattoos on and even added a colorful hair tie to the ensemble.
I went out the door and made it just in time to catch the 6:10 bus. It was a bit chilly out this morning; overcast and in the low 50's. I didn't bring an extra sweater with me because I figured I would be warm enough during the run and plus, I wouldn't be able to wear it afterwards.
And that's when it started getting crappy. The bus made it to the train station in record time but because it was Sunday morning, trains were way less frequent. What is usually a 2 minute wait became 8 minutes but I wasn't sweating it because I was already early. Shortly after, the train announced that it needed to share a single track so we were further delayed. I started getting antsy but I knew I was still super early so I tried not to think about it.
Once I was nearly at the office, I got a message from our team leader that she was unable to attend. When I found a teammate, I had learned that our other team member dropped out so it was just the two of us!
The dazzling duo
I ran over to Starbucks to grab a quick sip of coffee and off we went to the race site. The party was held at Butler Field/Petrillo Shell and after seeing the crowds of people, quickly made our way over to the start line. There were no time specific corrals and we lined up "first come, first serve". Antsy to get a head start, we made our way to the start line. We were definitely towards the front but even then, didn't get started until 8:19am!
And off we went! We found that walkers generally stayed to the right which was really nice as we were able to run our first mile without major traffic issues. Once we got closer to the color stations, however, we could barely walk so running was out of the question (and that was okay with me!). The colors this year included pink, orange, blue and purple.
After the final color station, we decided to finish strong and ran all the way to the finish. Almost. We had to walk through the finish line as there was traffic due to finishers trying to pick up their color packets. Note to The Color Run organizers: I'm totally okay with picking up my color packet afterwards but you should move the color packet pick up 100 feet back, rather than having it directly at the finish line. That would help clear the chute.
After grabbing our color packet, we went around to claim our water bottle, KIND bar (maple pumpkin seed, mmmmm), Honest Tea samples and loofahs. Yes, loofahs. Best idea EVER. Despite knowing that thousands of people were running the race, the party never felt too crowded (except for the finish chute). We made our way up to the stage to participate in some color throws and soon called it a day.
I was really happy to know that it really DOES look like the pictures!
I headed out to grab some brunch and finally retreated home to tackle the issue known as my skin. What was I to do??? I slowly took off my layers of clothing to find blue EVERYWHERE on my body. But after one good shower and with the use of my handy [free] loofah, I got 99% of the color off of me.
Is this a bucket list race? Definitely.
Would I do it again? Only with a group of friends.
What was the coolest thing? People were just genuinely darn happy.
What was the worst thing? The race distance was short, by a third of a mile depending on your GPS. The map was definitely a 5K but when I was on the path, I found that several corners were "cut", resulting in a difference of 0.1 to 0.3. Obviously this isn't a competitive race but come on guys, move the starting line up and the finish line back!
What was something I heard about that surprised me when it was true? Your nose will be blowing rainbow colors for at least a day!