It was your typical Saturday morning in Austin that started like this…
And quickly turned into this…
3 of my friends and I decided a couple months ago to participate in the Austin Color Run. It basically takes the concept from the Hindu holiday, Holi (March 8th this year), and combines it with a 5k and fundraising for Habitat for Humanity. The concept of Holi, in the least amount of words possible, is to cover everyone in pigment so we all look the same and no one can see our differences.
So we came up with a great team name, The Violent Lovers (thanks to a Wu Tang Clan name generator…) and bought awesome tube socks from Target for $1.50. I ran with my friends Marcy, Mary, and Cliff and while it was a harrowing experience, I couldn’t have chosen better teammates.
Because of the random drought-busting storms we’ve been having lately, Austin is muddy. But we were prepared and everyone had a towel and some extra shoes and we figured we’d be fine. We were happy and hopeful. We’d gotten emails from The Color Run, who does a great job of communicating pre-race, about a change in location because of the overwhelming interest. Well, despite changing the location, it still caused a 5 mile back up on the road leading to the park. We were on track to get to the park by 8:15am for the 9am start when we hit the traffic. It was horrible. I went 1 mile in 40 minutes. We ended up pulling into a nearby neighborhood around 9am and walking over a mile to the race.
We finally got to the venue and even though we were a little chilly and bitter about the traffic situation, we found out that nothing was on time because of the traffic and other planning failures. I admit I am a little upset about the lack of organization at this point. If the logistics of the race caused them to move venues, perhaps they should have been more prepared for the huge amount of people they were expecting… But we got in line, about 3/4 of the way back, and waited for the staggered start of our “wave”.
We did not cross the start line until 10am (an hour after projected) but we tried to smile and jog to warm ourselves up. But the congestion was awful. People were stopping at every person who had a bucket of the color (an eco-friendly pigment powder) and we walked the first 5 minutes. There were spectators with color, but at every kilometer (of the 5-kilometer race) there was a “color zone” so we figured we’d get color there and dodged our way through the crowd, color-less. The course started to get muddy, but nothing a little washing wouldn’t fix later, so we stayed together and trekked on.
Unfortunately we got to the first color zone to find out they had run out of color. We were all cold, muddy, and not covered in yellow powder yet so the 4 of us started to get a little grouchy. At this point the mud had gotten so bad we could not even attempt to run. Our shoes got stuck and Cliff and Marcy had to physically pull my leg out several times. We started slipping and sliding (see above picture) and people left and right were cursing, losing shoes, and complaining about how there was no color left.
We found a quick cut-through and decided to knock off about .5 miles of the course. At this point I looked at my Garmin watch to find out we had only gone .75 miles total, in over 20 minutes. There was no way I was going 3.1 in those conditions. We start hearing from the chit-chat happening around us that none of the zones have any color left at this point, that it was all used up in the first few waves. People were getting angry. I was getting upset. At some point, Mary and Cliff got separated from us and Marcy and I grumbled and climbed our way through mud. We ended up taking another huge short cut and rounded the bend, seeing the finish line ahead of us. In 38 minutes, we traveled 1.48 miles and I think I used the phrase “They should have rescheduled” about 38 times.
We ended the race with no color on our bodies and found a tent where they were giving 1 bag of color to every participant in exchange for a wrist bracelet. This was the first color we’d seen all morning! We grabbed our bags, miraculously found Cliff and Mary, and we all covered each other in powder.
At the end of it, our shoes were ruined. We ended up throwing them in a box that subsequently went into the dumpster at my apartment (coincidentally, the same dumpster that had to be stepped into when we realized, hours later, that Cliff’s camera — where all these pictures are from — was also in that box.)
We were cold, in terrible moods about the lack of organization from the Color Run and full of complaints. With our shoes quite wet and heavy, we trekked back to my car, tried our best to rinse our hands and feet with water from water bottles, and sat on towels. Bloody Marys and mimosas followed and our moods lightened up a bit. We ended up having brunch at Austin Java and cleaning ourselves up a bit in their bathroom.
All in all, I have mixed feelings about the race. It was an adventure in many ways and it was great to spend my morning with friends, but because of the horrible mud situation and the poor organization at the race itself, I felt like I wasted a morning and $40. If the Color Run is coming to a city near you, I would recommend signing up because I think it could be a really great experience. I think they’re learning from their mistakes and hopefully there won’t be a giant rainstorm for the 10 days prior to your race. I honestly think I want to do the September event in DC, since I’ll be living there by then, so I can give it another chance. It has great potential, but Saturday stunk.