I'm still working on my full recap (I'll have that tomorrow! Still working on scanning in pictures!) but I've been getting questions from Twitter friends and facebook friends and the like about the event itself, so I've decided to very helpfully post my advice on participating in the Color Run.
Now, this was my very first 5K ever so I’m far from being an expert. But even as a newbie (or, perhaps, more importantly, AS a newbie), I’m going to go ahead and offer you my super solid awesome advice and helpful observations.
2. Read the race info on the website before you go. Blah blah blah, rules, details, etc – you’re not too cool to follow the directions, and the information on the website is VERY helpful. It’s also a rather entertaining read (see: the FAQ.) It will save you a lot of confusion later because there are a LOT of people and it’s a much smoother experience if you kind of know what the heck you’re supposed to be doing and where you’re supposed to be going.
3. Get there early. Coming from out of town, we weren’t able to pick up our race packets in advance. So we dragged ourselves out of bed at 5am and stumbled over to the check-in, got our loot, and got a primo spot in the first wave. If you can be in the first wave, be in the first wave. You’re the most awesome and it’s guaranteed that they won’t run out of color (though they might be a bit stingy because they have SO MANY people to colorfy). (I heard that one of the events out west DID run out of color. It could happen!). There were 15K people that participated in the Kansas City event on Sunday alone – over 30K for the weekend, making it the largest Color event to date. Get there early and avoid the massive crush of people.
4. If they move up your start time because of the heat, be appreciative. I complained a bit when they moved up the race time an hour and a half. I am NOT a morning person. But it was wicked hot by 8:30 which was a half hour before the original start time. It was awful. I’m glad we started when we did.
5. You will get color everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Even my underwear was multi-color by the time I went to go shower.
6. You will get more color from the post-race festivities than the race itself. I have pre-race, post-race, and post-post-race photos. The color from the race itself is pretty mild… it’s the color packets they hand you to throw at each other afterwards that will get you intense color. And that will get you covered from head to toe. That said... stay in the "high color zone" on the edges - the whole point is to be rainbow'd, otherwise, why even bother? Soak up as much color as you can!
7. NO CHEATING. When they tell you to save your color packet for the post-race color festival, SAVE YOUR COLOR PACKET. There were some girls waiting at the starting line who opened one and were smearing it all over themselves and nearby bystanders. That takes a lot of the fun out of it. Wait til the end. Trust me, it’s more fun that way.
8. You probably won’t look like the promotional photos. If you sweat at all, your colors are going to start to run together. Also, if you get covered in a multitude of colors, they’ll kind of muddle together to form a brown color. So you kind of look dirty instead of rainbowy. (Avoid orange and red if you can – they will make you look the most grungy.)
*As I go through my photos, I've discovered that the secret to looking like they do in the official photos is to get covered in purple. Purple stands out and looks pretty. Orange? Orange does not. I wasn't terribly keen on the green, either. (You know what happens when orange and green get mixed together? IT IS NOT AESTHETICALLY APPEALING.) I've now solved this mystery. You're welcome.
9. You’re going to want pictures. BUT this powder is as invasive as glitter. I brought my “real” camera but only used it before the race and after the race when I was far enough away from the powder-throwing. Keep your camera in a plastic bag or you’re going to get powder all up in its cracks and crevices. I went ahead and got two disposable cameras for use DURING the race, which probably saved my digital camera from some unfortunate early death. And since I’m on my fifth digital camera and it is my favorite one that I’ve ever owned, I wanted to keep it alive.
10. If nothing else – take a before and after picture. It’s fun to see the difference.
11.Target still does same-day film development. Wal-Mart does not. Film is getting rarer and rarer and Wal-Mart has to send theirs away. Which is annoying when you want to see your pictures RIGHT AWAY because you’ve been spoiled by digital photography. I mean, if you go the disposable camera route. (Also: I picked up Fuji cameras at Wal-Mart and my sister picked up Kodak cameras at Target… the Kodak ones cost a bit more, but I think she ended up with better pictures.)
12. Even though you’re outside, use the flash when you’re in a cloud of color. It’s really hazy and you’ll need the flash the cut through said haze so you can actually see the people that you’re trying to photograph.
13. It’s damn near impossible to photograph the actual color cloud when you are inside it. It will just be blurry. Sometimes it will at least be a colorful blur, but mine frequently just looked gray. It was sad. (PS – the clouds of color are really cool, but I felt like I was in the middle of a smoke bomb. Slightly less pleasant than I was expecting, but if you’re up for it, I totally recommend participating.)
14. Close your mouth when running through the color zones. The color powder tastes gross and feels gross in your mouth. I learned this the hard way. (It’s really hard to do this during the post-race color extravaganza because you’re excited and all “wooo!” but for each “woo!” you do, you’ll probably get a layer of rainbow in your lungs. Be advised.)
15. If there is free water available, take it. If for no other reason than to rinse the color out of your mouth. But also: hydration is important, especially if it’s hot out.
16. If you raise your arms while you run through the color (which I could not seem to help but do), you’ll get lots of color in your armpits. FYI.
17. Sunglasses will not 100% prevent you from getting color in your eyes... but they do help. I got blasted on the face with a shot of orange powder in one of the zones and it got in my eye and it BURNED. I recommend maybe closing your eyes during those moments. Either that or safety goggles.
18. Sunscreen. You know how much sunburns hurt when you shower with them? Now imagine showering with a sunburn while vigorously scrubbing off the color.
19. Throw color powder at strangers (nicely). Ask them to throw color at you. (“Can I get some purple? Thanks!”) Collect all the colors! The more color the better! Except orange and red, like I said earlier. I blame those two for all the brown I ended up with.
20. Not all the color will come out right away. I washed my hair twice, scrubbed my face three times, and took the longest shower in recent memory. I still had some pink and blue splotches on my forehead (which I couldn’t bring myself to scrub again because it hurt from all the prior scrubbing), a little patch of teal in my hair, and a teal colored wrist. My nail beds are still a bit sketchy and I’m reasonably certain I still have a jumble of color in my nose. So, maybe don’t plan anything where you have to be super clean and professional-looking for the next couple days. (Don’t worry, it will wear off eventually.) The Color Run website has a handy link to a PDF with tips for getting all cleaned up after.
EDIT: Using makeup remover wipes works fantastically well for getting the color off your face/skin. I tried this out after my second Color Run and it worked like a charm. I highly recommend them! They don't have to be anything fancy, either - I just used the Target-brand wipes.
21. If you’re traveling, request a late checkout. You will take a supremely long shower.
22. If you find one of the clean-off stations (a dude with a leaf blower, essentially), it will help take some of the excess color off which may or may not help you later with your showering attempt, but: it will blow a lot of color off your shirt, too. It took off the “pretty” colors and left me with the grungy colors that had actually worked their way into the fabric. I was a bit sad by this but I think it would have been even harder to scrub all the color off, had I skipped that step. (I might see what happens if I skip it in Des Moines this fall.)
23. As per the tip on the website, if you want to keep the color in your shirt, spray it with vinegar and iron it. Calee brought a spray bottle with vinegar and we used the hotel iron (and some old towels that she was smart enough to bring) to attempt the preservation process sooner rather than later. Just, uh, be advised that your shirt is going to then smell like vinegar until you wash it. Mine is currently hanging in my entryway to air out. (Sorry, neighbors.) Also, if you wear a moisture-wicking, dri-fit, Under-Armour-esque shirt, you probably won’t get much permanent color. If you want it to stay, wear cotton.
24. You probably won’t ruin your shoes, so go ahead and wear your good running shoes. You’ll be doing lots of running and walking and you’ll want adequate foot support. My shoes were relatively unscathed by the time I got home – the shoelaces have some color in them, but otherwise, they’re fine. My upper body took the brunt of the color assault.
25. Be ridiculous. Wear a tutu. Wear a gold sequin fanny pack (yes, I own one. yes, you should be jealous.). Wear crazy neon shorts or socks or accessories. Because remember: this is a fun run. It’s not really a race. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Point #1 stands as the most important piece of advice I can give you. HAVE FUN.
Stay tuned for a more in-depth recap post and, of course, more pictures. The pictures are the best part. Naturally.