The Color Run (a.k.a. if a unicorn could hurl)

Happy Canada Day! I’m usually pretty patriotic on July 1st. I’m talking decked out in red and white, covered in maple leaf tattoos and sporting a comically large hat. This year for whatever reason I didn’t get a chance to let all my patriotic colours shine. Boo. Disappointment. So instead I’ll entertain you with the happenings of this past Saturday, a day when I did live in full colour. It’s a productive weekend when I can check something off my bucket list. Run in “Color* Run” Check mark symbol

Clean white shirts at the starting line. (Notice all the bubbles!)
Clean white shirts at the starting line. (Notice all the bubbles!)

In theory I’ve always wanted to do one of these. This is not a long race. It’s only 5K, and it’s not even timed. The concept is simple, but just for  kicks, let me break it down into three easy steps:

  1. Arrive in clean white shirt
  2. Start running
  3. Get colour bombed!

Doesn’t it sound like fun? I pictured myself taking a relaxing jog through a grassy trail — let’s call it a meadow! — collecting splashes of colour as I go. “It’ll be fun,” I thought, “like walking through a tie-dye machine.”

Behold one of five colour bombing stations.
Behold one of five colour bombing stations.

In reality This was the most exhausting 5K ever. I daresay this was even more exhausting than my 10K. This is why: 1) The Where It never occurred to me that a colour run would be all that different from a regular run. You just add colour, right? WRONG. When you have a group of people running through your streets in an orderly fashion, then by all means, the city is yours for the taking. But when you’re going to be coating the entire run route in a generous dusting of neon powder, suddenly you have to take your run into the boonies. That’s how I wound up driving to Middle-of-Nowhere, Uxbridge on a Saturday morning. You may ask, “Where is Uxbridge?” To which I reply, “Exactly.” 2) The Where … Again I don’t want to bog this all down with the negatives, so let’s start with the good. On the plus side, Uxbridge is far away from the noisy city. Fewer buildings, fewer people, less pollution, and the whole place is green green green. It’s all grass and trees as far as the eye can see. You can even hear birds chirping (actual birds — not the cooing, pooing pigeons of Toronto). Now the bad: just how did I come to admire this lovely view? Oh yes, from the top of a ski hill.

So. Many. Hills.
So. Many. Hills.

Turns out the whole route winds through a ski resort, which is how I found myself tromping precariously up and down some pretty steep hills. In between my huffing and puffing (I’m more of a pavement-trained runner), I was trying not to roll my ankle or break my neck. At times I wished I’d brought a sled for those downhills. “Happiest 5K on the planet,” eh? My knees beg to differ. 3) The How The colour bombing “stations” aren’t scattered throughout the race as I thought. Actually, I pictured people popping out from behind bushes like a sort of colour ambush. This, thankfully, was much tamer. There were only five colour stations, one at every kilometre mark. There’s yellow, orange, blue, pink and … glitter. Running through these stations is a bit like going through a human car wash. Colourful powder comes at you from both sides. It took me a couple stations to realize I should probably slow down and really take my time if I wanted to get properly coloured (which is why my shirt is mostly pink).

Yeah ... you'll want to take a deep breath before you dive in there.
Yeah … you’ll want to take a deep breath before you dive in there.

I was a little disappointed at how few and far between the colour stations were. My shirt was barely coloured by the time we finished! Fortunately, the best was yet to come. Redemption The best part, the one thing that (for me) made the whole run worthwhile, was the post-run colour throw. Along with the finisher’s medal, every runner gets a couple of colour packs at the end of the race. Then we all gather around the stage and …

Explosion of colour!
Explosion of colour!

Now that’s the colour I expected from the Color Run! As you can imagine, I took home a lot of that colourful powder, and not just on my clothes. I took several good lungfuls with me as well. The website assures me it’s non-toxic, and I’m no medical expert, but I’m pretty sure it can’t be good for you.

I got my money's worth of colour all right.
I got my money’s worth of colour all right.

Ah well, what did you expect? The verdict So 90 minutes of early-morning driving, five kilometres of knee-twisting running, and dozens of colour throws later, I wound up looking like a unicorn threw up all over me.

I had some serious scrubbing to do back home.
I had some serious scrubbing to do back home.

Was it worth it? Yes! The colour throw alone made it a good time. Would I do it again? Not a chance. Once was enough, thank you very much. I’ve seen what all the hullabaloo is about, and now I just want to finish expelling all this glitter from my lungs. * I’ve decided to use the American spelling for colour when referring to the actual event called The Color Run, since that’s their brand name (though it pains me to leave out the all important u). All other colours stay Canadian!

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