With Parkrun and Race for Life injecting fresh interest into the gruelling business of running, there’s never been a better time to pound the streets. Already addicted to Parkrun’s Saturday morning community vibe, I had the urge to try something new. Described as the happiest 5K on the planet, the Colour Run had me intrigued. But was it all a cloud of colourful hot air? And more importantly, how would I get the colour out my hair for work the next day?
Preparing for the Colour Run
Zooming down to Wembley on the Metropolitan Line, I meet my eager tribe of fellow runners festooned in Colour Run headbands, face paint and “happy” tattoos. It’s certainly a far cry from the mournful faces in grey suits on a Monday morning. An air of excitement builds as the Wembley Arch swings into view. Descending into the station, it feels like match day with 19,000 runners swarming into the stadium.
Meeting up with my team inside the main concourse, we anxiously join the long queue of runners in a crawling convoy to the start line. To help keep our spirits up, we’re kept entertained by an exuberant bunch of DJs, MCs and dancers. But with so many runners ahead of us, would there be any opportunity to run at all?
Under starters orders
After a frustrating fifteen minutes, we arrive at the start line. And all of a sudden we’re off.
The pack thins out immediately and I relax as I realise there’s ample room for everyone. The route takes is a circuit around the stadium perimeter, interspersed with five colour stations where the clouds of coloured dust are emitted. Quickly getting into my stride (a slow jog), anticipation hangs in the air as dark clouds threaten on a sweltering June afternoon.
Passing the first bend, sudden swirls of blue appear as we hit the first colour station. The colour is made from vegetable dye which eventually washes out but can be tricky to remove from hair. The organisers recommend rubbing your hair in olive oil or wearing a headscarf. As I’m only two weeks into a new job – I opt for both. Not one for messiness, I approach the station with some trepidation.
Aiming to stay incognito in the centre of the road, my pristine Colour Run T-shirt is spotted immediately and the colour warriors swoop in. Once covered in dye, all inhibitions disappear and it’s a liberating feeling to be look a mess. Dashing on, I pick up speed in anticipation of the next station which is a world of swirling orange. Clashing with the glowering dark skies above, the orange dust clouds feel strangely energising – as if being sucked into a giant fruit. Sprinting on there’s red, purple and yellow still to be experienced before the final dash to the finish line back in the stadium grounds.
The fun, novelty factor of the dust provides interest and motivation in spade loads and I don’t notice any of my usual negative thoughts about when this is all going to end. In fact, it’s all over too soon and I find myself wishing the route was longer. At the finish line, goody bags are handed out and we celebrate with a bag of skittles and a quick drenching under yet more bags of coloured dust.
Donning our obligatory plastic overalls for the tube journey home, I wonder idly about bringing a few packets of colour dye with me to shake things up on tomorrow’s commute. Maybe we all need a bit more colour in our lives but sadly I don’t think my fellow commuters would share that view.
The Colour Run 2017 takes place at Wembley Stadium on June 11 2017.