The Happiest 5k on the Planet: The Color Run

24 Apr

The Color What?

For my 21st birthday, my friends and I decided that we were going to celebrate in a unique and exciting way. One of my best friends, Holly, and I have birthdays that are just a few days apart. What could we do for our 21st birthdays that is awesome and unique and fun? Well, after a short Pinterest session and a call to our friend, Emily, we decided that we were going to run a 5K.

Now, let me start off by saying I am not a runner. I repeat, I am NOT a runner. But The Color Run, is not your average 5K. With considerations for everyone, The Color Run website boasts that participants can run, walk, crawl, or cart-wheel through the course and come out splashed in yellow, orange, blue, and pink no matter how fast or slow you choose to go. Participants are told to wear white, wacky costumes and get ready to be doused in color. The color is just colored corn-starch that is natural and safe. It comes out of  most clothing, though why would you wash your free Color Run t-shirt and headband, I’m not sure.

Preparing for the Run

This sounds like a fabulous idea. Get our exercise on and come out with some sweet pictures and a bunch of free stuff. No problem, right? Slight problem. The Color Run planned for the weekend between our birthdays was in Nashville, Tennessee. Thankfully, a road trip was right up our alley and we started planning the six-hour drive from Westerville, Ohio to Nashville, Tennessee for the weekend.

My friends and I do not frequent 5K events, and honestly, I don’t frequent the gym. Holly found an app for her iPhone called “Couch to 5K” and started training so she could run the route. Emily and I were content to sit on the couch with our besties Ben & Jerry and walk through downtown Nashville instead. We planned to wear flowers in our hair, bought the proper attire, mostly white of course, and set off on our adventure. Check out our route below!

On the Road

So, we’ve got a six-hour drive to kill some time, and I’m sure you’re wondering why we chose to do a 5K for our 21st birthdays instead of the usual celebratory festivities. That’s a great question. Holly, Emily and I are highly involved on campus and live rather conservative lifestyles. That’s not to say we don’t enjoy the spontaneous Margarita Monday, but turning 21 was more about being single, independent women and less about being able to purchase alcohol.

Even though The Color Run is a for-profit event, each run is partnered with a local charity in the city where The Color Run is held. For our run, the partner organization was Amputee Blade Runners, a nonprofit organization located in Nashville. When I first heard about the charity partner for our run during our planning process, I was all in. I knew I wanted to work with nonprofit organizations in the future, and putting together corporate partnerships like this one would be just amazing. The Amputee Blade Runners organization sponsors amputees and provides them with the prosthetic equipment they need to run and encourage active lifestyles.

You Are Here: Nashville, Tennessee

Emily Edwards, Katie McClain (that's me) and Holly Bruner after completing The Color Run: Nashville 2012

Emily Edwards, Katie McClain (that’s me) and Holly Bruner after completing The Color Run: Nashville 2012

When we arrived in Nashville, we were able to visit some really cool tourist attractions including B.B. King’s Restaurant and Blues Club  for dinner and a night on the town on Day One and The Loveless Cafe on the second night, where we ate until we couldn’t eat anymore. I skipped the best part, though, and that’s The Color Run. The run was led by representatives who received prosthetic running gear from Amputee Blade Runners, and it was so heartwarming to see them lead us off.

As officials released all 400,000 runners in waves of 1,000 for the safety of the runners and to spread out the color, we anxiously awaited our turn to go. Did I mention the race was sold out and registration was completely booked? What an encouragement! When it was finally time, Holly took off and ran her first, but definitely not last, 5K. It was a birthday present to herself, and we were so proud of her. Emily and I walked the course together in beautiful downtown Nashville. If you ever get a chance to visit, I’m sure the city would welcome you with open arms like it did for us. It was quite a sight. The course wrapped around through the city and around Titan’s Stadium with five stations of color ready to cover the participants. We crossed the finish line together and celebrated with the other color runners in The Festival of Color long after the run ended.

Why It Worked

So not only did I want to share my experience with The Color Run because it was awesome and fun, but the organization itself does a great job attracting runners, enthusiastically promoting the event and partnering with other organizations. Holly and I originally found The Color Run on Pinterest. Today, many organizations use this resource sharing website to promote their business, but in April of 2012, that wasn’t always the case. I give major props to The Color Run for advertising via social media to gain runners. As we visited the website, we realized this was right up our alley because the site is hilarious. The Color Run all ready looks like a blast, but the sarcastic and witty FAQ page and registration process helps runners feel at ease, and frankly cracked us up. The website and promoters alike were all super psyched about the run. From the emails runners get leading up to the race, to the free stuff they gave away from the moment we arrived until the race began were all ways to get the crowd pumped. And it worked. Loud music and a festival of color rounded out the event, so even if you got color in your eyes, all you remember is dancing on stage with the live DJ.

Partnering with nonprofit organizations could have been a PR move, and I’m sure The Color Run receives more press than it would if it was solely a for-profit 5K. As runners, though, we heard about Amputee Blade Runners all through the process, and the representatives who ran the 5K were treated more like celebrities than charity benefactors. I felt the connection was genuine, and learned a lot about the organization through The Color Run. My passion for  nonprofit organizations may shine through here, but I think this is what makes The Color Run worthwhile.


Sound Like Fun?

I never would have imagined that I would take a road trip for my 21st birthday, let alone participate in a 5K event. But not only was the experience a blast, I was really glad I was able to raise awareness for such a worthy cause in the Amputee Blade Runners. Interested in The Color Run? Register for some color-tastic fun across the country, or even in your own backyard. The Color Run has expanded to new cities each year, and are even returning to Nashville in October of 2013.

I’ve taken the liberty of finding some other awesome 5K events that. Some benefit local charities, but others are for-profit events that have themes that look awesome.  Check them out!

  • The Electric Run– Instead of color, try neon lights and electric music! Running in semi-darkness with light shows all through the course, this 5K is next on my list to try. They accept all runners and walkers alike. Similar to The Color Run, a partner charity organization is chosen in each city.
  • The Foam Fest– A self-described mud run and car wash for people, this run is so clean, it’s dirty! First get trampled in a mud run and then get squeaky clean with foam, soap and bubbles! Similar to The Color Run, a partner charity organization is chosen in each city.
  • The Krispy Kreme Challenge– Looking for a road trip? How about to beautiful North Carolina for some donuts! This 5K donates proceeds to North Carolina Children’s Hospital, and runners consume over 2,000 calories a person as they munch their way through the course.
  • Redlegs Run– Are you a Cincinnati Reds Baseball fan? Come out and support the Reds Community Fund in this fun 5K and support your favorite team. Wacky costumes are encouraged, and don’t be surprised to see some Cincinnati Reds players along the way!
  • Night of the Running Dead- Even though this for profit 5K is still in its planning phase, how much fun would it be to chase a group of humans as a Zombie? Or maybe run for your life…literally! This race to benefit the Huntsman Cancer Foundation is sure to leave you breathless as you not only run the 5K course but escape zombie runners or turn human runners into a zombie like yourself!

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