Sunday, November 4, 2012

Race Review: The Color Run San Diego

The Color Run San Diego - November 3, 2012

  • Location: Qualcomm Stadium
  • Distance: 5k
  • Surface: paved, parking lot
I'm addicted to Color Runs.  I hate mud and obstacle courses, but apparently running through gauntlets of people throwing colored cornstarch are just fine.  I've run three in 2012, and now I'm very interested in the upcoming Neon Run in 2013.

I ran my first Color Run in Sacramento, CA with my extended running family.  The differences in that race in April and the San Diego Color Run make it apparent that the race's organizers have found quit a bit of success.  First of all, there were 30,000 people signed up to become human rainbows.  That's enough people that they needed two waves, a 9a and a 1:30p.  It's also a record number of signups for the Color Run.  

image credit: The Color Run        
Wave 1 wrapped up around the
stadium parking lot!
The second indication that these runs have been profitable for the organizers is the introduction of their mascot: Runicorn.  A rainbow-maned unicorn wearing running shorts and a Color Runner Headband, he's definitely not necessary for a race.  But he and the t-shirt cannons and Color Throw Stage all add an element of "festival" to the event.  And this is definitely not a race for Serious Runners.  It's a gateway race into running for those who haven't found their reason to join the rest of us.

The sheer number of racers made it impossible to start of at a decent pace. The race organizers make no attempt to keep walkers and people with strollers or slow moving children at the back of the corral.  But again, this isn't a race for serious runners.  Once you get past the walkers and the strollers and the beefy young men who don't realize that 5k is longer than they've ever run (and so they're sweating and wheezing and walking), you can run at your pace . . . .  Until you hit the Color Zones.  

When I ran the Sacramento Color Run, there was a good deal of humidity, which seemed to keep the color dust under control.  At the San Diego Color Run, the Color Zones were a COMPLETE blinding experience.  The organizers did suggest that runners stay to the left, walkers to the right.  But I did NOT feel safe running through the Color Zones with the lack of visibility.  I didn't see anyone run into a volunteer, but I came close a few times.  

The After Pic                              
image credit: Jeffrey Hoffman
The location of Qualcomm was good.  There was ample parking, along with the availability of the SD public transit system.  The trolley system here in SD is great for events at Qualcomm, as there's a trolley stop for the stadium itself.  The parking lot provided space for both the pre/post-race festival and the race course itself.  The actual SURFACE of the race wasn't very good though.  The parking lot is riddled with potholes, cracks and metal gratings.  All increase the chance of turning an ankle or tripping.  And these hazards were not marked off with neon paint or cones, which have been present in other road races.  

The Finish Line provided water and granola bars, sufficient for a 5k distance.  My running buddy noticed that they had brought in a tanker truck for the water, which I had never seen before but seemed like the BEST IDEA for providing water at such a large event.  Kudos to the organizers for taking that extra measure.  

Color Toss Finale
Image Credit: The Color Run
The best part of the Color Runs is the COLOR TOSS Finale.  Not many race experiences give you the opportunity to come together as a community is such a grand celebration of effort.  For many people, the Color Run is their FIRST 5k, and hopefully its not their last.  In 15 minute intervals, starting from when the first people cross the finish line, the DJ at the Color Stage count down to the color tosses.  With music blaring, you all open up your color pouches (provided in your race packet) and toss the colored cornstarch in the air.  The scene from a distance is fun, but being in the color cloud is almost euphoric.  It really encompasses the feeling of "I JUST RAN A RACE!"  It's a physical manifestation of Runner's High.  

Will you likely get a new PR at a Color Run?  No.  Will you have a fun, colorful time with some of your favorite runner friends??  YES!  

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