I’ve done a couple “novelty” races in the past (both nighttime “glow” races with glow-stick necklaces, bracelets, etc), but typically, the running events I sign up for are chip-timed and my goal is to finish and hit a certain time. However, since I’m currently coming back from taking a long break from running, I don’t really care about my pace, so I was curious about doing an untimed fun run, and color runs seem to be pretty popular.
The Color in Motion 5K has been held in Chicago for a few years, but this year, due to conflicts with the Pride Parade, they were forced to leave their usual location (Montrose Beach) and move the event to the Lake Couty Fairgrounds. Not exactly a quick trip from Chicago, but since I have a car, it was doable for me. There was an option to pick up race packets in Chicago (at Fleet Feet Old Town), but since raceday packet pick up was also an option, I decided to skip making a trip to Old Town.
I arrived at the race site shortly after 8am for the 9am start, was directed to parking, and got in line for packet pickup. The line looked long, but I think I got through it in 10-15 minutes. I changed into my gear (this is one of the few times you should wear the race shirt during the race) and did some people watching.
The crowd was a little bit different from what I’m used to at races. There were lots of teens and tweens, groups of friends, families, and parents with small kids – some pushing strollers. Basic registration included a bib, t-shirt and a packet of colored powder. “VIP” registration also included a bandana, sweatband, and sunglasses. I received free VIP registration in exchange for promoting the race, so I used everything I received, plus an additional neck gaiter that I brought, to avoid getting powder in places. (Eyes, nose, mouth, ears specifically.)
There were no assigned corrals or start waves, however, since it was an untimed race, no one seemed concerned and there was no pushing or climbing into the start area. There was a small corral that the race emcee would have people fill to capacity, and then get the group hyped, shoot the color powder gun, etc, and then that group would take off, another group would fill the corral, wait a few minutes with the same cheering and what not, and then take off, repeat until everyone was through. I think I started with the fifth group.
Given the original location for the race (Monstrose Beach), I assume this event was supposed to happen on the Lakefront Path. (Although maybe it would have been in the fields up there?) There is no similar path at the Lake County Fairground, unfortunately. The first stretch of the cource was on a sidewalk, however, it then cut into grass and alternated between grass, gravel and “chunky” gravel (grass/gravel/chunks of asphalt). It was not the most ideal footing for running, or for stroller pushing. I passed many families struggling with pushing strollers over the terrain. The course also included a lot of out-and-backs, and it would have been very easy to cut the course. Since it was untimed, would it have mattered? Especially with the strollers and small children … I kind of hoped they were cutting to shorten the distance.
There were 4-5 “color stations” on the course, where you run through people throwing more colored powder on you. There was also one water stop about halfway through.
The finish line was back near the start, and finishers did receive race medals. I really liked the rainbow color design on the ribbon.
As you can see … I didn’t go crazy with the color. I had plans to meet up with Anne for lunch and wanted a quick transition to be presentable. I didn’t stick around for too long after I finished. Back at my car, I wiped down with a washcloth and some water, changed my shirt and took off my socks.
Overall, I think events like these can be a lot of fun for families, teens, and groups of friends. It would be a good way for a non-runner or newer runner to get some experience, however, this is definitely not a typical timed running race.
If you go, keep in mind that there is powdered color (like chalk) flying all around. I did see a few people get it in their mouths, and I can imagine getting it in your eyes would be pretty uncomfortable. Definitely have a plan for covering your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth – bandana, neck gaiters, sunglasses all worked well. Have a change of clothes ready in the car, and bring shower wipes, or a washcloth + bottled water to wipe down. Having a towel to sit on in the car isn’t a bad idea either. And of course, don’t go into the race expecting a certain time. Not only was the race untimed, but I ran around lots of groups walking 3+ abreast.
Would I do another color run? Maybe, if I could get my nieces or nephews to join me.
Have you done a color run? What did you think?
Note: If you’re planning to run a Color in Motion event in another city, you can use code MAGGIEMILE to save 5%.