I’d always been a little iffy on the idea of what I called “novelty” runs. You know, color runs, mud runs, electric runs, foam runs… Although I am not fast, I am very competitive. I want to win, I want to place, I want to PR, that’s the whole point of racing, right? Well, after reading some recaps on other blogs of “novelty” races, I decided to give it a try.
I contacted Color Me Rad and they were kind enough to give me a free race entry and three more to give away on my blog. That race was this morning. I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t that excited about it, I mean Wine & Dine is two weeks away and I’ve had an awful head cold for a week, but I signed up for the race and dad gum it, I was gonna go.
I missed packet pickup which was most of the day yesterday, so I needed to get to the race site early. The first wave of runners wasn’t scheduled to start until 9am, but they asked people who hadn’t registered online or who hadn’t picked up their packets to get there at 7:30. Feeling guilty that I missed packet pickup, I dutifully followed directions and got there just before 7:30.
It was held out in the country on a farm about 20 minutes North of Gainesville. The race directors did an amazing job with full size lighted signs with arrows where the road forked and it would have been really easy to go the wrong way and again at the race entrance. This was probably the best marked route to get to the parking area that I’ve experienced and I really appreciated it.
I pulled into the farm road just as the sun was rising and I was the only car on the rolling road through the farmlands and it was gorgeous. I almost stopped the car for a photo because it was breathtaking. It was $5 to park, which was fine for me since I got there so early, but I think having to let people stop to pay backed up the traffic a lot later on. It might have been nice to just add that to the race entry, but maybe it’s different at each race site for this run.
There were lots of race volunteers directing traffic very efficiently. I parked and went to pick up my packet. When I got there, the line was longer than I expected for so early, but within a few minutes, they had four more people set up to handle the line and it went extremely fast. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. I got my packet which came with my bib, safety pins (of course), a “RAD” temporary tattoo, a great blue v-neck t-shirt and my choice of color of sunglasses (I picked blue).
I hustled back to the car because (don’t laugh my Northern friends) the temps were:
Yes, I know I was whining about the heat and humidity ALL summer, and now I’m whining about the cold. But, really I love the cold (well this Florida version of the cold), I just didn’t want to stand around for an hour in running clothes in it. So I finished my coffee and warmed up a little and then headed out to the port-a-potties. And look what I found, a PINK port-a-potty. I just had to try it.
Well, it was still a port-a-potty but it did have a mirror inside and this picture on the wall:
I planned to meet up with some friends who picked up their packets already, so I had some time to kill and took some photos of the gorgeous scenery.
And checked out the start and finish lines.
Then, as more people arrived, the action at the stage area picked up. They had a group of three energetic fun ladies doing zumba sessions, with other contests and give-aways spaced in between. The zumba was great and lots of people joined in. It warmed up my body and my mood and I really started getting excited about the run.
And they brought some kids up for a hula-hoop contest.
The Color Me Rad guy (I’m terrible with names, but he was a lot of fun and very energetic) threw out free color packs, free t-shirts (that tall girl in front of me got one that was heading my way if I wasn’t so short!) and rubber Color Me Rad bracelets (I did get a blue one!). I loved that he asked everyone to raise their hand if this was their first 5k and I was amazed at how many people raised their hands. Then he had everyone give them a round of applause for tackling this goal, explaining that Color Me Rad’s goal is to get people comfortable with the idea of being active and running races even if they don’t see themselves as athletic, and to do it as a family. I saw people ranging from babies in strollers to ladies who looked like great-grandmas all out there getting colorful and having fun.
I met up with my friends and we headed to the corrals. They gave away lots of color packets as we were waiting in the corrals, so we were pretty covered in color even before the race started. The race let groups go between 9am and 10am in groups of 300 with about 5 minutes between each group. It worked really well and I found that there were no bottlenecks or real crowds along the course. I’m really bad at selfies, I have no idea why I look so serious!
Here, this is a much better one.
We started off with a BIG downhill, which didn’t bode well for the rest of the course. But, because the course isn’t timed and there are no awards, I was fine with taking it easy, doing a run/walk and just chatting the whole way. The scenery was still just gorgeous, with rolling pastureland dotted with hay bales all along the way. There were color stations every half mile or so, where volunteers pelt you with the color powder and two “wet” color stations where they spray you with colored water. The first one I thought it was just a water spray zone and was like, no way it’s way too cold for that. I figured it out in time for the second one though!
There was one water stop, again, fully stocked and well managed by the volunteers with lots of trash cans to chuck your cup into which was nice. I hate slipping on cup debris at races. The garbage cans seemed to do a good job encouraging people to take care of their trash.
Before I knew it, we were at the finish. I’ve never been sad to see the finish before, but I was having such a great time I wanted to do it all over again. I didn’t even wear my Garmin (I know!!!) and so I was really surprised at how fast the course went. I have no idea how long it took, and I’m happy about that. One of my goals was to do this race to have FUN, to rediscover why I love to run and I am happy to say that it was a resounding success. I ran to experience the beauty of nature, to experience the strength of my legs and lungs, and to have fun with friends. It’s been a while since I experienced that joy because I’ve been so caught up with distance and speed and trying to place or trying to prove myself to others. This was FUN. Really FUN.
My toddler loved that I was so colorful when I got home. He is already planning to be the one to throw the color next year! The only downsides are that white shirts aren’t my friends (not so flattering!) and that I had colorful snot from my head cold for about an hour afterwards (I didn’t want to disappoint my loyal readers by skipping my TMI moment). Everything else about this race was just wonderful.
So, if you’re intimidated by racing, this is the race for you. If you’re burnt out by racing, this is the race for you. If you want to have fun time at a well run race, this is the race for you. I went in as a skeptic and left as a fan. I absolutely plan to run this again with my family. The casual, laid-back approach to racing combined with a serious approach to organization and planning is a sure win. Thanks Color Me Rad for helping me find my joy in running again!