This past weekend, I participated in the Color in Motion 5k with my girlfriend, Kayla. It's a color run, and it was her first 5k. Our goal was to make good time and run the whole thing. Looking back, I have to laugh at our hopeless naivety.
I laugh, of course, to keep from crying. Crying multicolored tears.
I had never done a color run before, and the event was unbelievably busy. Thousands milled around the race area. Since attendance benefited the Special Olympics, this is of course very good. And, in general, I would recommend color runs to people who want to have fun and not worry about running. For runners who take races in any way seriously, however, I would caution you to stay away.
To clarify: a color run is where everyone gets bags of colored powder, wears white shirts, and throws the powder everywhere until everyone is a rainbow-smeared mess. But since not all the powder hits people, much of it stays hovering in the air, like an LGBTQ-friendly haze of mustard gas creeping through the barbed wire fences and over the muddy trenches of a WWI battlefield. When you run through these colored clouds, the powder gets in your eyes, your mouth, and, after a while, your very soul.
In fact, there are several moments before and during the race where you are specifically directed to throw your powder in the air. But for a tall guy like me, this was not always ideal.
So after the first three groups of people were allowed to go, Kayla and I got started (this was half an hour after the official race start time).
So, here's why this color run was not good for people interested in, you know, running. First off, most people did not run. Those that did usually did not do so for long. Now, this would not be a problem if the race was at all organized to separate the running group, or had pacers set up. Of course, it did not. Because of this, half of our energy and time was spent dodging oblivious walkers who had apparently never heard of staying to one side. In fact, some of them seemed to have practiced getting in the way of people who needed to pass.
But the worst hell of all? The color gates. I don't know if that's what they're actually called, but there were four of them throughout the race, and each one was worse than the last, for two reasons.
The first reason has to do with what the color gate actually is. It's a ten or so foot stretch of path that is plastered in one particular color. A handful of people have thousands of bags of that color that they constantly beam people with as they pass. As a result, the color gate looks like a part of the world that didn't load in a video game, so instead of grass and path and trees and sky, there's just a blank patch, one solid cloud of color that swallows people up. If you ever read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, think of it like that nightmare-cloud thing that floats around the sea and is filled with unimaginable horrors. Think of it exactly like that.
The second reason is partly tied with the race's lack of organization I talked about earlier. There is not separate race or time for the kids; they run with everyone else, and, for some reason, being surrounded by rainbow colored clouds, free candy, and adults encouraging them to throw things has them all riled up. In the color gates, dozens of them sprint back and forth to get covered in the powder, forgetting momentarily that this is a race with hundreds of people needing to get through.
Near the end of the race, exhausted from the run and with our lungs probably looking like Easter eggs, we came upon the blue gate. I'm still not sure what exactly happened in the blue gate. Children were running, screaming. They flew through the air like mortar shells.
We barely made it out, listening to the faint giggles of the child predators that now hunted in the blue gate. We knew, then, that we had not made it out. We had been allowed to leave.
So yeah, our time wasn't great, and it was clear that the race was not designed for actual runners. It should be called a color mosey.
But of course, everything was for a good cause, and I'm hopeful that one day I'll be able to look at the color blue again without getting a panic attack. Small steps.