You may associate 5Ks with getting up way too early and digging out that active-wear you use, well, not as often as you should. No more. The growing popularity of themed runs such as The Color Run, Diva Dash, Superhero 5K, FroYo Run, and many more are changing the face of fun runs.
These production style events are drawing crowds in the thousands. Runners are, in some cases, traveling across the country and signing up sometimes 10 months in advance to participate. Almost all of the races give back to local charities but the events are becoming big business. The Color Run, in it’s 4th year coming to Columbia is continuing to attract participants, add more cities to their tours, and increase the size of their courses each year.
If you are coming out to join in the madness at the Columbia Color Run, here’s what to expect on race day.
Each of these themed 5K races puts fun first and fitness second by offering plenty of distractions and attractions throughout the race course and hosting elaborate pre and post-race parties. The atmosphere at these events is electric and fast-paced but you don’t necessarily need to bring your Nike’s to keep up.
For example, The Color Run, coming to Cosmo Park in Columbia on August 27th, does not post race times. Its focus is on happiness, health, and individuality. The theme must be resonating with runners and fun runners alike because, according to its website, The Color Run is now the single largest event series in the world, offering races in over 35 countries in 2015 and growing in 2016.
Normal races encourage a basic level of runners’ etiquette but at The Color Run, participants come armed with colored powder and navigate a course filled with volunteers who are out to get them. The course has different color “zones” and introduces a new color of powder at each 1K checkpoint. Runners start the race shiny white and end looking like an art project gone awry. It’s all in good fun, though and has marketed itself as the “5K Vacay” or “The Happiest 5K on Earth.”
Happiest 5K on Earth may be a bold claim but The Color Run backs it up on their website with this fun fact: “Color runners have found love! TCR has witnessed 87,410 love at first sightings, 9,607 first dates, 654 proposals, and 35 weddings!”
Part of the fun that comes with the new wave of fun runs, like The Color Run and The Blacklight Run, is the opportunity for participants to rally around a theme or create their own for their team or group. The Color Run gets you started by equipping each participant with a Tropicolor themed kit. There are 3 tiers of registration for The Color Run: Classic, Classic Plus, and Deluxe. The main difference besides price is the amount of swag that comes in your registration kit and whether or not you want your kit mailed to you.
Classic registration is $34.99 and you’ll need to come to packet pickup either the day before or the day of the race. Classic Plus is $42.99 and ships your packet to your door. Deluxe registration is $54.99. It’s shipped to your door and includes extra goodies like wayfarer style sunglasses and trucker hats.
If you really want to stand out, take your outfit to the next level by choosing a specific neon color for your team or creating a character. Coordinating funky costumes with your teammates is not required but it certainly adds to the fun. You are sure to see people skipping around in tutus, capes, glowing bodysuits and more. While technically the powders being hurled around during the race are washable, expect to leave the race with more than a few colorful souvenirs on your official Color Run t-shirt.
The Big Day
Because The Color Run is focused more on the overall experience rather than on speed, the race is a good fit for every age and ability. Avid runners can enjoy themselves alongside families and park walkers. Children and strollers are allowed to run the race with a paying adult participant – pets are not. Small lockers will be available on site at Cosmo Park for $5 and large lockers for $10.
Pre-race packet pickup is from 10:00am to 6:00pm Friday the 26th at Kohl’s on Green Meadow Drive. Check in starts at 8:00am on Saturday the 27th at Cosmo Park. If you chose to have your packet mailed to you, you do not have to check in. Just put on your race bib and head to the starting line. All registered participants receive a t-shirt, headband, tattoos, and race bib. Medals and additional color packs for the after-party are handed out at the finish line.
Pre-race festivities start at 9:00 am with waves going every few minutes, and the skipping, dancing, and smiling continues throughout the brightly colored race course, ending with the finish festival at the brand new Rainbow Beach. Fair warning that there is actual sand at this beach, so if you are bringing kids, be prepared to hose them down when you get home.
Each Color Run event contributes to a local charity partner as well as cancer research and encourages race participants to share their stories about using this event as a platform to find hope, health, and happiness in the fight against cancer. This year the Color Run is partnered with The Huntsman Cancer Foundation and the Sigma Chi International Fraternity to be the generation to end cancer.
A themed 5K may not be a serious runner’s cup of tea, but that is kind of the point. It’s a race for people who may not love running, but they love fun. If that’s you, get yourself to Columbia next month, and see what they hype is all about. You may not leave with an engagement ring, but you are sure to leave with a smile, a messy t-shirt, and some great memories.
Katie Dillman is a Communications Coordinator with Premier Glow, an online retailer of glow products. She enjoys working with businesses through copy writing to share ideas that connect with their audience.