July 15, 2014
I ran The Colour Run in Mississauga on Sunday, July 13. It definitely wasn’t a typical race, but it was quite an experience. This post will feature my report and LOTS of photos. Click on any photo to see a larger version. A special thanks to Kris and Sharon for sharing the photos you took during the race.
A Blank Slate
I know a lot of ‘hardcore’ and ‘ultra’ style runners don’t speak highly of mud, color, foam and other fun races. I have mixed feelings about these kinds of races myself, so I’m glad I was able to experience one first-hand to report on it.
I was reluctant to do this run in the first place. But, peer pressure got me to sign up. We were team Dye Hards! 11 runners strong!
It seems rather odd but I was more worried about this 5k than a typical half- or full-marathon. I suppose it’s because I know what to expect out of a marathon. The preparation for a colour run is completely different: There’s no long taper, carb-loading, or nerves about setting a personal best. I did have to carefully select gear to ‘sacrifice’, and have post-race cleanup organized.
I’m being dramatic and exaggerating saying I’m was sacrificing gear. I was warned that anything I wear may get stained, and electronics may be badly damaged. So, no Garmin, no phone, no camera, and no iPod. I dug down to the bottom of my gear drawer to get some of my least-loved gear: I got a white shirt I haven’t worn in a year, shorts that I are way too long, and a pair of running shoes that were way over their 500km limit last year. As recommended, I bought a baseball cap and sunglasses from Dollarama to protect my hair and eyes. As it turns out, my shirt, hat, shorts and socks washed out and looked almost as good as new after a run through the washing machine, and the hose cleaned up my shoes pretty well too.
A Clean Start
The forecast for race day was for high humidity, strong winds, heavy rain and potential thundershowers. Hours before the race, the whole team was nervously messaging each other wondering if the race was going to be cancelled. By about 7am there was no indication that the run was going to be cancelled so I had my breakfast and walked to the rendezvous point.
All 11 members of Team Dye Hards got together. Our team Captain Kris was amazing! She got us a bunch of stuff from the dollar store including leis, and whistle-like party things. After taking a group photo, we loaded up into the carpool cars. I’m very thankful to the drivers who ‘sacrificed’ their cars to drive us. But, they were very careful. The car I was in had all the seats, seatbacks, and headrests meticulously covered with garbage bags and then towels.
We got to the Hershey Centre about 45 minutes before the race was supposed to start. The entire parking lot was blocked off for the race, but we found parking across the street. It looked like the rain was holding off, but it was windy and very humid.
I was impressed by the restroom facilities for this run. There were lots of porta-potties, and even hand-washing stations, which aren’t a regular sight at races.
There was a tent selling things like sunglasses, shirts and tutus, which would have been nice, but I don’t imagine many people brought their wallets for fear of them getting damaged/dyed.
It was a different kind of crowd than I’m used to seeing at races. There were lots of families together for the run. This reminded me of the atmosphere for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 5k I did last fall. There were also an awful lot of young people. I didn’t know Mississauga had all through young people? Where do they hide? Maybe they’re all in high school…
After taking a lot of goofy pre-race photos, we headed to the starting area. I’m glad we headed to the starting corral early because the ‘waves’ system they had wasn’t very quick. The first wave went off about 10 minutes late, and then later waves were sent out in 10 minute increments. We kept taking goofy photos in the start corral, but were quickly getting anxious to get running.
We were in the 3rd wave that was sent out around 9:40am. Without a Garmin I don’t know how fast we were going, but it felt a little uncomfortable due to the fact I wasn’t warmed up and it was really humid.
We reached the first dye station (Pink) shortly after starting the run. After approaching the station we understood why the waves were so far apart: If the runners were continuous they would quickly run out of dye powder. The waves meant that the volunteers can conserve the powdered dye until a group goes through the station.
I was originally resistant to the idea of getting too dirty. After the first station, I realized that it was inevitable so “in for a penny, in for a pound” and just embraced the mess. It would be silly to go into a colour run and expect to come out clean!
Our group started breaking up shortly after the first station. We stopped once or twice to consolidate, but eventually we broke into a group of 9 in the lead with two taking an easier pace. The second dye station was blue, but looked more like purple. Either way, it made a big impression.
I’d say this was about half-way into the run, and we were starting to notice a lot of people walking. As we weaved through a group of walkers, I heard someone tell their friend “you have to train to be able to run like that.” I thought that was kinda funny. The 9 of us running together train regularly, so an easy jog like this was comfortable. I imagine that untrained athletes would need to take some time to catch their breath.
I got a good dose of colour at the yellow colour station.
As we passed by the last station (purple) we noticed that they were starting to run out of colours. I think the high winds were scattering the powdered dye much more than expected.
As we left the last (purple) station, we noticed the pink station again right across the street. Some of us keeners went back to pink and got dyed again, and then back through purple AGAIN! Why? Because why not?!
A Colourful Ending
There was a nice set of arches heading to the ‘finish’ line. My watch said it took 38:22, a fair time for an easy 5k. However, I have my doubts that the course is actually 5k. I tried tracing it with Google Maps and MilerMeter but some of the out-and-backs were on soccer fields, side paths, and parking lots that don’t measure well.
Right after crossing the line, our team Captain Kris produced little medals that were probably from the dollar store too. It was a nice touch! She was so good to us!
Not long after we crossed the finish, it started to rain, A LOT! But, I suppose it was welcome to cool us off and start to wash off the dye. Once you’re wet, you don’t really care.
We headed to the post-race party. It was actually pretty cool. They had a DJ on a stage and there was a kind of mosh pit/dance floor in front of it. Some of us danced because, again, why not?! My favourite part was when they did colour releases. They would toss unopened packets of dye into the crowd, and after a countdown, everyone would open the packets at the same time. The effect was really awesome, and you got even dirtier!
Would I recommend this run? Yes! It was as advertised and what I expected. It really was a happy5k.
Will I do a colour run again? Probably not. I liked the ‘fun’ aspect of it, and it was nice to comfortably job past the ‘casual runners’. But the mess is too much! There’s so much prep to a colour run like having to properly protect vehicles, cleaning gear, and then showering out the colours.
Special thanks to Kris and Sharon for sharing these awesome photos!