Yes, that’s right, I’m writing a blog post today. Just be cool.
On Sunday I dragged myself out of bed at obscene o’clock to head up to National Harbor for a race I quite literally did nothing to prepare for until around 1am the night before when I dug out a white t-shirt to wear. No nerves, no anxiety, no inability to fall asleep – just “oh yeah that’s happening” and then “I probably shouldn’t still be awake…oh well.”
But I wasn’t worried because the only purpose of the Color Run is to have as much fun and get as colored up as you possibly can. There’s no time limit, it’s not even timed at all, and it’s the kind of thing that’s just a great way to spend the morning.
So Kathy and I got all dressed up in our white gear and headed to the race. As per usual, I went the wrong way on the Beltway. Yes, I’ve lived here my whole life and I still haven’t mastered that beast. Pro Tip for anyone traveling in DC – if your destination is on the left, you should turn right to get there. Just engrave that in your brain.
So after a little shuffling around (and one of the most hilarious trips through the McDonald’s drive thru of my life) we got to National Harbor 30 minutes before the race was supposed to start and still had plenty of time to find parking, get all our stuff situated and ready, and walk to the starting line to take our obligatory before picture:
If you remember the last time I did a race in National Harbor you might understand why I was having a little PTSD-like anxiety over the whole situation but this was a completely different experience entirely. They let the first wave of runners go at exactly 9:03am so we were very happy to be off to a good start. We had an AWESOME time people watching while we waited our turn. There were so many fun costumes to see and tons of really cute kids.
Kathy and I ended up in the absolute last wave of runners and for a while joked that maybe we should come in dead last on purpose – perhaps stroll over to the Gaylord and have breakfast while we waited for everyone else to go by. But we weren’t the final people across the finish line and aside from a little jog at the beginning and running across the finish line at the end (because, I mean, really) we actually walked the whole way. It was a GORGEOUS fall day and we had fun just chatting and doing more people watching and dancing (sometimes dance walking) to the music they played on the course.
There were color stations set up every 1/2- 3/4 of a mile or so and as you went through volunteers hit you with powdery color. They had squirt bottles they shook at you to get the color on you. It didn’t hurt or anything, the color just felt like baby powder. The stations were set up in Rainbow order so as you progressed through the course you earned another color.
Our race packets included an extra packet of color for us to use at the finish line, which we did with a few other girls who finished around the same time as us. And then purple was waiting at the finish line in the massive group color throw:
One awesome costume example:
On our way back to the car:
It was an awesome experience and we had a ton of fun doing it – and are already planning costumes and recruiting friends to go with us next year. I definitely recommend doing one if you get a chance!
Here are some things to think about:
- This is not a race you can take seriously. I think the first runner finished in about 20 minutes but he would have had to be in the very first wave where he could break away from the crowd. It’s not overly crowded, but you’re not going to be able to sprint your normal pace. They allow kids of all ages including strollers and encourage everyone to participate even if they, like Kathy and I, plan to walk the whole way. So leave your need for speed at home!
- On that note, this is one of the most positive experiences I’ve had with a race ever. All the volunteers and staff were so genuine and uplifting. I went to pick up our race packets and the girl greeted me like I was an olympic athlete. As we walked up to the water station they said “you’re doing such a good job” and it was actually convincing – not like many other courses where you know you’re at the end and they’re all tired and want to leave already. The volunteers at the color stations were having the time of their lives, dancing and throwing color at the runners, at each other, getting kids out of their strollers and having them roll through the color on the ground already – I mean, they just made it a party. And of course at the finish line as I ran up the guy welcomed me with “GO! YOU’RE WINNING!” – so if you’ve ever wanted to try doing a 5k but are intimidated by other races, this is a great one to do. They say they welcome everyone and genuinely do.
- Color will get everywhere. I know, thank you captain obvious, and I know I’m a drama queen but this time I’m really, really serious. It doesn’t matter how many layers you have on, the color powder is fine enough that it seeps through all your clothes. Kathy wore long sleeves and her arms were still covered. It was in my underwear, my cleavage, my bellybutton, my ears – and two days later I’m still seeing blue when I blow my nose (gross, I know). So though it seems like it’s common sense, don’t wear anything you’re worried about possibly staining.
Exhibit A: What was underneath my race wristband
Our race day was decently breezy so as we walked the color tended to blow off us. Our clothes were not extraordinarily painted by the end but our faces and anywhere we were sweaty held onto the most color. My feet, for example, were black because my running shoes have porous mesh tops. I could not imagine doing this in summer months.
- Definitely go somewhere while you’re still painted up. It’s worth the looks and laughing at yourself because you know you look like a hot mess. We actually got asked if we were zombie runners, which was fun. It’s kind of a rite of color run passage that you go out somewhere after.
- Bring your friends. Kathy and I had a great time together but we agreed it would have been even more fun to have the whole gang with us. So even if you and your friends are at different athletic levels just make sure everyone has a buddy to keep them company during the race and then have everyone meet up at the end for pictures and serious color tossing.
So, all in all it was a wonderful experience and I’m SO glad we did it. If you weren’t sure you really wanted to do it, I’m telling you now that you do!