Normally I’m fairly opposed to large, national, for-profit races. Historically, road and trail racing has been a very local-spirit-heavy sport– you race against your community peers in an event put on by members of your community with funds raised by local businesses and participants. Of course, based on my race history, you might not know that preference.While I’ve never run a Rock n’ Roll (just too pricey), I have run a Nike Women’s event, the Mustache Dache 5k, and the Color Run 5k.
If I had to rank those three events in order of awesomeness, Nike and Color Run would come in for a tie for very different reasons. Nike is great– what woman doesn’t want a tuxedoed firefighter handing you a Tiffany & Co. necklace at the finish line? But you can take those San Francisco hills and shove ’em. That’s a lot of hard work for 26.2 miles, and a lot of very specific endurance training.
Enter the Color Run, an easy breezy 5k of untimed fabulous fun that calls itself “the happiest 5k on the planet.” The Color Run has only two rules: wear white at the starting line and finish plastered in color.
When I ran the Color Run in Little Rock, Arkansas in November 2012, I’ll admit that I was a bit of a distance snob. The half marathon was my go-to monthly distance, I ran one marathon annually, and I only ran a 10k once a year as a special exception to the general rule, because my BRF (Best Running Friend) and her mother-in-law ran it every year. To the best of my memory, I had never, ever run a 5k in my toddler-aged tenure as a runner.
Once I got over my patently worthless snobbery about running “just” a 5k with a rag tag team of regular runners, retired runners, and rarely runners, I opened up my heart to this event and realized that it was strikingly similar to the Hindu holiday I’d always wanted to experience, Holi. The whole idea of Holi is beautiful– an ancient spring festival of color and love where people gather, sing, make music, and play, chasing each other with dry powdered color called Gulal as well as water guns and colored-filled water balloons. As Wikipedia succinctly stated via a collection of three different sources, “[t]he festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair ruptured relationships.”
Notwithstanding the arguments that Color Run co-opts this religious tradition, I had an absolute blast at the 2012 event and as I found myself walking NW 23rd in Portland last fall and saw the literally trademark white cotton shirts covered in multi-colored cornstarch walking my way, race envy flooded me and I swore I would attend the 2014 event. Don’t believe the hype? Apparently tens of thousands of other runners and walkers agree with me, because Color Run is now the single largest event series in the United States, hosting more than 170 events in 30+ countries in 2013.
Dates for the 2014 Color Run 5k Kaleidoscope Tour have already been announced in 91 cities including Portland and Medford, with dates to come for 38 more cities. Four cities’ races have already sold out, and as is typical for the Color Run, the Portland and Medford races will sell out as well. For context about how rapidly these races sell out, the sold out races are not in March or April– they’re in May, June, and August. Fair warning, Medford– your event’s in May.
If you’re thinking of doing Color Run this year, registration is now open for Portland and Medford, and you need to get it while it’s hot. Here are the details:
WHEN: Saturday, September 6, 2012, 9:00 AM with numerous wave starts
WHERE: Portland International Raceway
TEAM $$: $35/person until May 31; $40/person thereafter. You don’t need a full team to get started– just sign yourself up and then peer pressure everyone else into doing it. (Fair warning: creating a team does not hold or reserve spots.)
SOLO $$: $40/person until May 31; $50/person thereafter.
WHEN: Saturday, May 17, 2014, 8:00 AM with numerous wave starts
WHERE: Medford, OR – Course Map TBD
TEAM $$: Team of 4+ runners, $30/person until February 28; $40/person thereafter.
SOLO $$: $35/person until March 1; $45/person thereafter