Color Run

I hadn’t heard of the “Color Run” until my daughter informed me that she’d be running the 5k in Austin this year. I watched the video trailer, which pretty much sealed the deal in terms of my decision to tag along and take photos. How could I pass up such an unusual opportunity?

As it turns out, all three of my daughters, one son-in-law and both grandkids “ran” the race yesterday. But it rained hard for two days before the event and it ended up being a complete mudfest. The mud was reportedly a foot deep in places, and I was told there were random shoes all over the place because of the quicksand effect—the mud sucked the shoes right off people’s feet and they just kept on going. Piper and Haven (the birthday girl!) were in the stroller, which ended up being quite the liability when it came time to climb a mud hill. How do you push a stroller, uphill, through cavernous sludge? In typical Austin fashion, random strangers ended up rallying together and helped them carry the stroller up the slippery, steep incline. People love an excuse to be part of a “team,”—even a spur-of-the-moment makeshift one—to help others in need, to drop normal everyday barriers and pitch in toward a common goal. Truth is, if these same folks passed on the street they might not even look up. But in this kind of setting the walls fall down.

And it’s a beautiful thing.

The question on many minds is, “Why would anyone want to do this incredibly messy race?” I think in part because it’s different, fun, and gives people a legitimate excuse to abandon the serious business of life and play like a kid again. I’m not sure how many people ran the race but one of the “official” photographers told me they cut it off at 6,500 entrants (the race commenced in heats of 1,000 runners.) I didn’t interview anyone but I can guarantee you there were doctors, construction workers, lawyers, landscapers, engineers, dishwashers and folks from hundreds of other professions in the crowd. There were probably runners who had been diagnosed with cancer, are going through divorces, or are facing serious financial troubles. On the other hand, I’m sure there were people who had just gotten engaged, learned they were finally pregnant, or recently landed the job of a lifetime. And there they were, running side-by-side, being all uninhibited and whimsical, with children and dogs in tow (all of whom for the most part seemed to be loving it. For those concerned about toxicity, the “color” was made of all-organic compounds.) How often do you see adults in their front yards having a water balloon fight, coloring with chalk on the sidewalk, blowing bubbles? Never, because we’re too busy being responsible, serious grownups. Responsibility is a good thing, of course, but by and large I think we’ve lost our ability to let go and enjoy a little carefree hoopla. Go on… I dare you.

Fun: it does a body good. 

 This kilometer marker ran out of color, so people were rolling around on the ground to pick up some pink.