a mess of color

The Color Run was a completely abysmal mess of disorganization. In the run up to the event there were hints of ineffectiveness, but Saturday was such an incredibly unpleasant experience that I will not be participating again.

Right from the start, the event was plagued by minor logistical issues and too many participants. According to numerous announcements, 11,00 people ran that day. Rumor has it that the race was supposed to be capped at 10,000 people, but they went over due to someone not properly shutting off the registration site. Rumor further indicates that 18,000 people actually showed up and raced. I’m not sure if that’s true, but there were certainly more people than they were prepared to handle.

Not that they seemed prepared to handle much. Everyone involved with the event was very nice, but the logistics just weren’t well done. The parking lot had no signs (good thing we had the exact address) and the attendants didn’t have flags; there were too many people for the buses taking people to the course; the water station at the end of the run was completely disgusting and not set up in an easily navigable way; color packets didn’t contain the color on the label; and if there was a medical tent I never saw it.

Post-race joy. I’m going to try to remember this part of the Color Run.

That said, the run itself was a lot of fun. (Having recently dislocated my kneecap, I walked the course.) There was so much joy and happiness and color, the course was easy and pleasant, there was a random bagpiper and a few residents cheering us on. I want to make sure I emphasize how enjoyable the actual race was, considering what happens next. The Color Run is just as fun as it sounds conceptually. Everyone seemed to be having a great time.


After running/walking, taking some post-race pictures, having some sub-par food and generally recovering, my team and I headed to the increasingly massive line waiting for the buses back to the parking lots. And we waited. And we waited. And we waited.

For 2 hours. In the sun.

The line was inching forward, so we just assumed that the Color Run had messed up transportation logistics (again). Then word started circulating among the runners about an accident, but there was no official announcement, at least not one audible to the back 2/3 of the line. Finally, an hour and a half in, once we’d moved slowly about halfway to the front, the Color Run decided to communicate with the crowd and told us what was going on, vaguely (an accident shut down the highway). More importantly, they started to bring us water.

An hour and a half in.

Frankly, I still don’t know exactly what happened, and what the Color Run had control over (bus routes?). What they definitely had control over, and what they botched to an inexcusable degree, was their communication with us. If they had told us near the beginning of the two hours that the roads were blocked, we all could have gone back and sat in the shade or bought beer or eaten food, instead of staying in line so we didn’t lose our places. My teammate wouldn’t have been on the ground with the rest of us pouring water on her to keep her from getting sunstroke.

But what was worse, even, than waiting in the hot sun for 2 hours, worse than the complete lack of communication from run officials, was how they handled it when they did start to communicate. They were like, “it’s all about attitude, people! thanks for being good sports, we can only do what we can do!” Which would have been great, except that this came an hour and a half into our wait and there wasn’t tons of good will floating around. The cheerful man on the mic came across as a condescending jerk, honestly, with his “guys we don’t really have any control over this, let’s keep our chins up!” (Which, I don’t know if that was actually true. When we finally got on a bus, we went entirely by backroads and avoided the supposedly-blocked highway entirely. So I just don’t know the story.) Nobody felt like being told to have a good attitude when we were dehydrated, too hot, and mostly clueless about what was happening.

At this point they also announced they were going to bring the party to us, and we’d have an awesome bus-line party and make the best of a bad situation. The way they brought the party to us was to throw some bracelets and stuff at us, and finally to bring us more packets of colored powder. Except half the line had their smartphones out, which we all hurriedly tried to put under our shirts. Also, the spectators were included in this line, ie friends and family in normal clothes, with their purses and phones, who hadn’t signed up to get covered in color. My teammate’s girlfriend and her (open) handbag got drenched in yellow powder. NOT the best way for the Color Run to spread goodwill throughout the crowd. Not well thought-out, there, Color Run, but only to be expected.

Some people still seemed to be having fun in that line, but most of us were not. I’m not sure if I’ve done an adequate job of expressing how miserable the experience was, but it took me from the joy you see in the picture to complete anger and a desire to never do the Color Run again. It was an inexcusable mismanagement of thousands of people on a hot day, people who had just completed a race, and I have no interest in dealing with that kind of debacle again. Sorry, Color Run. A good idea so poorly done is not really worth it.


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