Monday, 15 July 2013

Event Review : London Colour Run

For about a year I’ve been aware of a race series in the US called the Colour Run. The premise is that you run a 5km course wearing as much white as possible and at different points along the course you get bombarded with coloured corn starch by spectators. By the end you’re a veritable rainbow and very happy indeed.

This year they’ve brought it to the UK with races in London, Manchester, Brighton and Belfast. I may have been the first one to sign up to the London one, I was that keen to get in! The event cost £25 plus £4.99 (not optional) and includes your Color Run t-shirt, headband, poncho to protect the world from you on the way home and a temporary tattoo. The London event was held on Sunday at Wembley Stadium and was due to start at 2:30pm with participants going off in waves.
In the days leading up to the event the pre-race information was pretty good but my race pack didn't arrive (I feel I should be refunded my P&P charges) so I had pick up a pack at the venue. We were warned that there would be no bag drop and no parking. Not being able to take wet wipes or a towel or indeed many of the usual things I take to a race was a definite negative. There was no way I was going round the course with a rucksack!

The journey to the event was kinda fun, as I went via Waterloo and saw all the British 10k-ers heading home. As I got nearer to Wembley the more Color Run participants got on the tube until we;d all but taken it over. The sense of camaraderie and anticipation was fantastic. The event was due to start at 2.30pm but I don't think we actually got underway until closer to 3pm. The start area was pretty packed and it was a very hot day. There was nowhere to get water before the start and the longer we waited the less we were amused by the lovely Virgin Active ladies trying to get us to "warm up".
Tide marks
I've been deliberately avoiding the use of the words "run" or "race" because this really isn't an event designed for running. This is a get together, a moving party, and not timed in any way. If you're trying to get a PB you won't and you won't get much colour either. I did jog between colour stations and it was liberating to run without a Garmin or with any goal but to have fun. Once we got underway the going was slow and it became apparent this wasn't a route designed for scenery. You're effectively herded around the back streets and industrial parts of Wembley, which I can understand from a clean up point of view. To be honest the course is so short and I was so excited about getting painted that I didn't really mind too much, but the course definitely felt shorter than 5k.
Yellow haze
You could see the colour stations from someway off due to the coloured haze hanging over them, as well as the big archways. They were quite short though, and there wasn't as much paint slinging as I'd hoped. You had to get right up to the volunteers (who I really felt for actually) to get splattered. A lot of people resorted to flinging paint at each other or rolling on the floor to get coloured.  The water station did get mobbed as it was so hot but I don't think in usual circumstances any more were necessary.
The after party was good fun, with music, 15-minute colour bomb calls and plenty of vitacoco to be had. You could get hosed off it you wanted or buy official merchandise before making your way back to the tube to go home. I had to resist hugging people in light coloured clothing and relished the confused looks.
Pros: Really fun event, easy to get to, inclusive, lots of loos, good warm up crew
Cons: No parking or bag drop, no water at the start, pack not arriving before the event, long wait to cross the start line
I think the colour stations could have been longer, perhaps some bands on the route and a more scenic route would have been nice but not necessary.  I really did have a fantastic time and would almost certainly do one again despite the downsides. As this was the first one I'm inclined to chalk it up to teething problems and I hope the next one goes off with a bang.

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