- Posted August 27, 2012 by
Team iReport featured this story
Explosion of Color and Joy
- dsashin, CNN iReport producer
A new phenomenon called the Color Run is exploding across the nation. The event lets runners and walkers of all ages navigate a 5K route as they are doused with different colors at check points, culminating in an explosion of color at the finish line. As the event brochure says, the Color Run is “based less on speed but about enjoying a color crazy day with your friends and family.” This iReporter decided to enter the Milwaukee Color Run to see what the buzz was all about. It turned out to be 3.1 miles of spectacular color and pure joy.
An avid middle-aged runner, I arrived at Miller Park to pick up my race packet a few hours before the start. At first hundreds and then thousands of people, decked out in white T-shirts, multi-colored socks, and colored accessories began streaming into the area. As I waited in line for my race packet, I looked around and realized I was the only entrant wearing a blue oxford shirt and khaki pants. No one seemed to notice. I made a quick dash to the car to change into my white “Color Run” T-shirt and running gear, and quickly tried to blend in with the masses. I began hydrating and ate my energy bar. I was ready.
By 6:30pm I was at the starting line, waiting for the journey ahead. As I looked behind me a long line of humanity quickly grew in length. I could no longer see the end of the line. My race bib number was 86459, and I wondered if that was the number of people attending. As the countdown to the start continued, a D.J. got the crowd energized by starting one of many “body waves.” As I looked behind, the wave disappeared far into the horizon with a few color packs exploding in the distance. Next to me two young guys painted color on their faces like two Spartan warrior preparing for battle.
In a few moments the race started, the music blared, and a huge chorus of cheers erupted. The line almost imperceptibly moved forward, as people jockeyed for what little space was available. As I headed off, I kept repeating, “It’s the journey, not the destination.” Finally I navigated the sea of humanity and sprinted towards the first color check point. The line behind me seemed to stretch for miles.
As continued I looked for the first “cloud of color.” Running through a corridor of people “shooting” yellow pigments all over you was exhilarating. I encouraged the volunteers on both sides to “pour it on” and continued on to the next color wave. It became more fun to slow down to get doused with color rather than checking my watch for my running time. As I made it through the orange, blue and pink check points, I soon became a moving canvas of art. I raced to the finished line in full living color. Greeting me was my colleague Matt who quickly snapped a few shots, one with me jumping in celebration.
I grabbed my camera and began snapping photos of a wide assortment of color-doused walkers and runners of all ages. One girl, Kylie Nelsen-Freund, a Marquette University student sported a blue, green, and yellow face. She said this was her second Color Run and she loved it. Several teams wore tutus and posed in a sea of color. Andy Seiter and Victoria McShane sported yellow and green masks of colored and could not stop smiling as they talked about the event.
As more people crossed the finish line, the announcer encouraged the growing throngs to gather around the stage for the famous “color explosion.” On cue, as the announcer counted down 5-4-3-2-1, everyone exploded their supplied bags of color pigment into the air, creating a huge cloud of color. As the music blared, people danced, sang, and cheered. In a word, it was a mass of pure joy. Every 15 minutes, as the crowds continue to grow, more “color explosions” filled the air. Tens of thousands of people continued to fill the parking lot well into the evening.
For this iReporter, the Color Run helped to remind me the journey really is more important than the destination. The Color Run, as they say, “is the happiest 5K on the planet.” Truly it was an explosion of color and pure joy.