A week has passed since Terri and I ran the Color Me Rad 5K near Pittsburgh at the First Niagara Pavilion in Burgettstown. We were entered in the 1:20 p.m. wave of runners, but since the run was in an area we were unfamiliar with, we left at 7:00 a.m. to give us plenty of time to get there and be able to scope out the course.
Being a bit of a color-nerd, I wanted to do this run since it combines color and running, and it seemed like it would be a lot of fun. Color Me Rad runs are not timed so there is no pressure running against a clock. Seeing photos of past events with runners splattered and coated with colored color starch inspired me to find a location near to us and sign up.
From their FAQ page: “Color Me Rad is loosely based off of the Hindu Festival of Colors, otherwise known as, Holi. Just as you usher in a new year of radness in your life by signing up for Color Me Rad, Hindus usher in a new season, spring. The festive colors used are a sign of winter’s end and springs new beginnings.” I am glad winter is over, spring certainly has been filled with new beginnings, and this run seemed like a good way to celebrate before the wheel of the year turns to summer.
Pittsburgh was still pretty mellow as we drove through it early Sunday morning. By the time we made it to the parking area of First Niagara Pavilion, there were folks leaving from earlier waves of running. We could also see a bit of the course from our car and could take in the young and old, in all phases of fitness, move uphill in a rainbow of colors. Folks seemed to be having fun with it all. It was great to see the multitude of color-transformed runner’s clothes and costumes.I was struck though by many of the medium-blue souvenir Color Me Rad shirts, and the color-nerd in me thought what a poor choice they were to wear in an event like this one. Most of these shirts ended up looking like a mix of brownish baby-food color, a few areas of splotches of vibrant color, with patches of blue shirt showing through. See, basic color theory, as well as years of my elementary school art class disasters, has that when you combine all primary colors together in roughly equal parts, they will make brown. So the bright magenta and yellow corn starch on the blue shirt is asking for disaster, and when you toss in orange, green, and purple too, well, it ends up with wonderful earth tones, but created with a lot of fun.
We checked in, got our racing bibs, sunglasses, extra color packets, and temporary tattoos and then went back to the car to get ready.
Terri coined the term “color vulture” to describe our scouring for half-empty to almost empty plastic baggies of color. Decorating each other with the remnants of powders, we combined this with picking up the discarded baggies and taking them to trash cans.
The people who put on the run made sure that the crowds were having fun by tossing color packets into the masses, having quick contests to win extra color packets, playing lots of music, and even emptying a converted color-filled fire extinguisher into the throng.
We used a disposable camera to capture photos along the course so that we wouldn’t ruin our good camera with the fine silt of corn starch.
The beginning of the run had us weave through an area of rough terrain made up of quarter- to fist-sized chunks of what looked like pumice. The footing was not good, so we took our time so to not twist an ankle. Later, the course was on sections of blacktop and loose gravel. We could see any upcoming color stations, and could plan on how we would run through these to either maximize our getting doused in color (purple station) to running quickly down the center to avoid too much of a color (orange and green stations).
Running together, we could comment on the costumes, little kids, and other runners shirts. One team’s shirts had “Lost in Pace” using the font from the TV/movie “Lost in Space.” Terri made our team “Crayola Posse” shirts, and we heard a few comments on these as we made our way through the crowd.The run ended in a huge cloud of magenta, and we just grinned together.
We made our way back to the car to clean-up as best as we could, change clothes, and then start our way back home. The colored corn starch did not rinse off very well with just water, and I am not sure what the patrons and employees at the Indian restaurant Udipi Cafe thought of us when we entered. Our waiter and a family behind us asked if we were at the Color Me Rad run, so at least some of them knew about it.
So, all in all, though I wish there it was a constant shower of color plumes throughout the 5K, it was spaced out nicely. Runners had fun, money raised went to a good cause, and we came away looking a heck of a lot more colorful than when we arrived. Juggling colors during a run like this can be a challenge, so my advice is to wear white for maximum effect of color, wear sunscreen, plot your course strategy, and have a good time!