Tuesday, September 04, 2012
The Color Run is pretty, but also an organizational mess
This "before" photo is the only picture Misty and I have from The Color Run. We'd been looking forward to the race for months, and I'd been so concerned about how we were going to get pictures of ourselves covered in color, but in the end it was raining so much during the event that I was afraid to take my camera out of the Ziploc bag I had it sealed in.
In the picture we appear to be having a good time, but I only wish that were an accurate representation. In reality, it was mostly a miserable experience. The rain surely contributed to that, but it wasn't the only factor.
The worst part was that Misty ran the race in pain. She'd woken up saying that it felt like she was dragging her eyelid over crushed glass, and she wasn't sure if she'd scratched her cornea or had a severe case of dry-eye. Running through clouds of powdered corn starch probably didn't help her eyes any.
Then, of course, there was the rain. We were drenched before the race even began, and the rain didn't let up the entire time we were there. We were cold from being wet, and our shoes made squishing noises as we walked.
Speaking of walking, that was the pace for much of the "race." It was so crowded and full of people who weren't there to run that it was impossible to run, ourselves. To be fair, the event prep material made it clear that this was not a timed race, that many people walk it, and that the crowds tend to bottleneck and slow to a crawl at the color stations. That was all true. But the prep material had also recommended that those who planned to walk or push strollers start toward the back. Few heeded this suggestion, giving the whole course a stop-go-stop-go pace. Worse, many people ran with umbrellas, paying no attention to who was around them and poking other runners in the face.
But The Color Run itself was just not a well organized event. Our team couldn't figure out how to get into the starting corral, and there was no direction on how to do so. We couldn't hear the announcer until we actually made it into the corral, and when we found that he was throwing T-shirts and Frisbees down into the crowd of runners. When I'm about to run, I really don't want something to carry for the next 3 miles. I also don't want to be hit in the face with a Frisbee. But we already had something to carry -- our personal packets of color powder that we were expected to throw at the end of the race. Why not give these out to runners as we crossed the finish line?
Since the race started about 30 minutes late, the runners in the corral were getting irritated. We were cold and wet, and people were chanting "Start the race!" Perhaps out of boredom, or maybe in protest, people began throwing their color packets in the air early. Even through we couldn't understand the announcer, it was clear that the event team didn't want this to happen. You're supposed to save your color packet for the end where everyone throws them in unison, creating a huge rainbow cloud. But the color throwing increased more and more until they finally let the race begin.
When it was over, runners were handed a granola bar -- the most pitiful post race food offering I've seen at an event. Still there was little organization letting people know where to go for the mass color-throw, and runners were tossing their packets at random. Misty and I decided not to stick around and headed back to the car to finally escape the rain.
One good thing is that I did end up getting completely saturated in color, as is the point of the event. My previously-white T-shirt turned out nicely, and my neck and chest are still stained blue. I wish we'd gotten a picture of Misty and me post-race (The Birmingham News posted a very cool Color Run photo gallery).
I wanted to enjoy The Color Run -- I really did. Other people clearly enjoyed it more than me. If it hadn't been raining, or if Misty's eye hadn't been causing her so much pain, we probably could have overlooked the event's disorganization and just enjoyed it for what it was. It's not a really race, but a chance to have fun making a beautiful mess with 10,000 other people. Given the chance to do it again though, I'm not sure I would.