This morning I participated in the first official Color Run in the Southern Hemisphere. Melbourne played host to the Australia’s debut Happiest 5km on the Planet, attracting a sold out crowd of more than 12,000 happy runners.
Coincidentally, the race took place at the racecourse I’d been to for the Melbourne Cup Carnival only a few weeks ago and I even went past my old tote house! I’m starting to feel pretty familiar on those grounds.
The Color Run originated in the United States. It is a different kind of fun run, where people of all ages, abilities (and disabilities), babies in prams and strollers, gather together to run, walk, dance, skip and hop their way for five kilometres passing through colour dust at each kilometre mark. Each kilometre you get sprayed with colour by volunteers and each K is represented by a different colour. The basic idea is that you start off clean – everyone in a mandatory white t-shirt – and end up completely covered in colour, making it the happiest run of your life.
For me, it was my first fun run ever. I’ve wanted to be able to run for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never had the fitness nor the technique to be able to master more than five minutes without losing my breath and needing to stop. Since July, I’ve slowly started to train myself, making a consistent effort to work my way up to being able to run a five K. If I was to be honest, I cannot come out of today and say the run was easy. I had many moments where I thought I should just stop and walk, particularly in this event as many of the other participants were making their jolly way at a snail’s pace. But I’d said to myself that I wanted to run it, for myself. And run it, I did.
The beauty of The Color Run is that nobody gets timed. There is no winner and the waves start every five to 10 minutes so people have as much fun and get covered in as much colour as they can. I was probably in the 10th wave. At the start line there was music, an enthusiastic host and free giveaways. The idea was that if by the end of the race you weren’t covered in enough colour, there was an After Party, where colour throws were happening every 15 or so minutes.
During the race, I kept a fairly even pace. But it was great to see so many people enjoying the colour storm, rolling in the blue, red, yellow and pink dust, families and groups of friends taking photos and some even having wheelbarrow races along the way. I didn’t take my phone into the colour because I knew it would get ridiculously dirty, but plenty of people decided otherwise. Judging by the dirt/dust in my shower, I think I made the right decision.
What originally attracted me to this fun run was its resemblance of the Hindu Holi Festival. A few years ago I saw pictures of the festival, primarily celebrated in India and Nepal, where coloured powder and water are thrown on others in what is a Festival of Colours. Some may recognise this theme in Ke$ha’s Take It Off film clip. Anyway, I’ve wanted to experience Holi ever since hearing about it and so The Color Run seemed like my first taste of what may lie ahead if I eventually make it to India.
After the race everyone gets given their own packet of Color to throw and spray on each other. There were sponsors giving free foot massages, photo booths, a Boost stall, crepes, strawberries and fruit, as well as Nova FM Casanovas, as a massive dance party.
The event was extremely well organised and I’ll definitely participate again next year. It’d be great to travel to other locations on the Australian Tour (or elsewhere) to see how their races compare but I’m sure each Color Run is as unique and as special as the last. The money raised through this event is going towards The Australian Paralympic Committee and paralympians themselves were part of the fun.
Be sure to look out for a Color Run near you. You can check out when the run will be coming to your city here.