Monday, 5 October 2015

Event Review : Run or Dye

I lent out of the car window, brandishing a ten pound note at the gentleman in hi-viz, for the privilege of parking in a field. "When you've parked up, head towards the pink flags over there", he gestured to the right. I peered past him into the fog. There were no flags to be seen. "They are there, I promise, put them there myself earlier!" he was apologetic but didn't give me any change from my tenner so I drove on, parked up and wandered in the direction he'd indicated, following other equally tentative souls.
Foggy castle grounds
It's 9:15am on a Saturday morning and I've forsaken my usual parkrun in favour of the 5k event Run or Dye at Hever Castle. Almost identical to the Colour Run, this is a non-timed 5km fun run during the course of which you pass through a number of colour stations and get pelted with coloured powder, turning you into a veritable rainbow by the end. I'd entered alone but most people were there in small groups, all ages, all abilities and all revved up to have a good time.
After what felt like a very long walk from the car park I arrived at check in as the warm up was under way. I collected my race pack; a drawstring bag, race bib, wrist band, temporary tattoo, dye pack and white cotton t-shirt with the Run or Dye logo on the front. I quickly changed and realising I didn't have enough time to get back to the car again headed over to the bag drop. As I approached I was informed that it would cost me £2 to leave my bag. There were no signs and I'd left my money in the car so I resigned myself to carrying it around with me. Ho hum.
To get into the spirit of the event I doused myself with the contents of the dye pack and got to the start area. The MC cranked up the music, threw some t-shirts, headbands and other goodies out into the waiting crowd and soon we were off! Although we were being set off in waves, it was all very informal, you weren't allocated a set time or divided up as such. I'd ended up near the front of the pack so had lots of room to actually run. I wasn't gunning for a time, I wasn't even wearing my Garmin, but it was nice to have the option rather than having to walk.
Channelling my inner Braveheart
The course wound around the grounds of the castle, through woodland and around a lake. I think at one point I did spot the castle but it was so foggy I could have been almost anywhere, which was a real shame but just one of those things. The colour stations were approximately every kilometre, the only way to track your progress around the course as there were no markers, and I found another benefit of being out in front was that you got the full force of the paint throwers! I *may* have shouted "give me your best shot" as I jogged through the stations, arms raised high above my head.
Enthusiastic paint throwers
Event the flowers seemed to want in on the action
It was all over far too quickly... but not so quickly that I was able to join the back of the pack and go round again, which I must confess I considered doing. In the race village the MC was valiantly trying to start building up to the after party as the first runner returned. Cups of water were given out, food vans touted their wares and finishers snapped "after" photos in all their multicoloured glory. No medal at this event, just the joy of having run and feeling a bit like a kid again.
Particularly unflattering post-run photo

I wandered back to the car, with mixed feelings. I'd enjoyed the experience, despite not being able to see the castle, but I felt unsure that it was worth the money. I'd have felt more comfortable with a £5 parking fee, and I'm aware that some of the entry fee goes towards Help for Heroes but still... it's not a cheap event. Fun for the kids, and groups who are newer to running, but next time I'll rack up another parkrun instead.

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