This past Saturday I ran the Color Vibe 5K in Eisenhower State park in Long Island NY. It has long been on my running bucket list to experience one of these races where you cross the finish line covered in multi-color dye. I came close last year until the company who was sponsoring the race went out of business three weeks prior. Since then, such a race has eluded me. Every time one is held in my area I either already had a race booked or I’m out of town.
Two months ago, I got a phone call from my cousin Leanne saying she found a color race on sale that she wanted to do. When I heard the dates I was beyond excited. I had nothing going on that weekend, so I could run this race! Hot dog, leap-frog, and holy cow! I would finally get to run a color race, and even better it would be with my cousin who has not (yet) been bitten by the running bug.
For a chance like this I decided to forgo my decision to not sign up for any summer races and concentrate just on training for the fall race season. I was determined to have some good clean “dirty” fun at this race. As it turned out, three other people decided to join us. As far as I was concerned, the more the merrier. Within ten minutes of her call, all five of us were signed up for the race.
When it came to fun, this race did not disappoint. By the end of the event my face ached from smiling. While there were some hiccups with race logistics, the folks over at the Color Vibe 5K know how to use their race to throw an awesome party. Here is how my race experience played out.
Packet pick-up was in a local Sports Authority. Entering the store and seeing the line I figured I would be there for a while. The line stretched to the back of the store then snaked around into a group of secondary aisles.
I was pleasantly surprised to see how fast the line moved. It took me a little over four minutes to get my gear. The clerk directing line traffic told us the line would be more than a 15 minute wait so I lucked out on that one. My packet consisted of a race bib, a bag of dyed corn starch that they advised us to save for the post-race party, and a sample of Tum-E Yummies: a sugary fruit flavored drink enhanced with Vitamin C. I decided to forgo buying a race t-shirt at registration.
What struck me odd was that the race bibs did not come with safety pins. When I asked about this, I was told that they would have pins available before the race at the day of registration table. For this reason I give packet pick-up a grade of B-.
To get our money’s worth we all wore white.
The atmosphere in the parking lot was quite jubilant. Everyone around me seemed excited to be there. For the most part everyone was wearing white. I also saw many colorful hair accessories and countless female participants sported tutus. It was nice to see lots of families running together.
By far the best outfits I saw were from a group of race walkers paying tribute to actor Christopher Walken, who grew up in my neighborhood.
My pre-race restroom visit went faster than expected as the people at Color Vibe provided ample amounts of porta potties. In addition to this, the park’s bathrooms were also open adding six more stalls for the ladies (by a friend’s count) plus three more stalls and seven urinals for the gentlemen. On restroom management the Color Vibe 5K gets an A+.
After that, it was time to party. The race was a staggered start. There was only a single corral, so organizers only allowed in a small amount of people at a time. To keep the participants entertained, Color Vibe threw a party that started way before the race and continued long after everybody crossed the finish line.
Here is where the fun started. Most people ignored the directions to save their color packets until after the race. We were covered in it long before the race started. A few minutes out on the dance floor took care of that.
About 45 minutes after the race started we were finally able to push our way into the corral. The race ribbon dropped and we were welcomed to the course with a cloud of red powder being blown out of boxes with leaf blowers.
Most of the serious runners had already squeezed their way into an earlier start time. I was surrounded by walkers and found it difficult to keep my intended one minute run and thirty-second walk intervals without running on the uneven grass. Many walkers were not aware of proper race etiquette of moving to the right and walked side by side four or more across making it hard to get around them.
About every quarter-mile or so we ran into another color gauntlet. Instead of leaf blowers, volunteers were throwing colored powder on the participants as they passed. For pure fun, I award the delivery of this race’s gimmick an A+.
There was only one water stop on this course. While this is the norm for many 5Ks, Color Vibe should have taken into account that this was a late morning race during the summer and provided at least one more stop. With a shady course and a nice breeze, an additional water stop wasn’t really needed on this particular day, but Color Vibe does not control the weather. Had this been a warmer day many of the participants would have needed more water. In this category I give the Color Vibe 5K a C.
With regard to water, the finish line was this race’s redeeming quality. There was plenty of it available post-race along with the race sponsored product, Tum-E Yummies. Post-race water availability earned Color Vibe an A+.
Now, I can’t be as nice when it comes to post-race refreshment. Tum-E Yummies are awful! You could not pay me enough money to take a sip of this stuff ever again. Sponsor product quality is one of the hiccups that scored a solid grade of F.
In many ways this race was different from any race I ever participated in. There was no gear check. This was actually smart on Color Vibe’s part. There was ample parking at the race site and people’s clean checked gear would have been quickly soiled when it came in contact with their owner. Yet another abnormality was the absence of a race clock. For this type of race it was not needed. One does not run this race for a P.R. I also think the powdered air might have damaged the timing equipment.
I found the last abnormality quite disturbing. The people at the Color Vibe 5K need to rethink their approach to safety. I did not see any race marshals supervising along the race route. To make matters worse solo runners without ID would be unidentifiable in the event they went unconscious during the race. Bibs were just randomly handed out to runners at packet pickup. The number on the bib was not recorded by the staff. In the event of an emergency, race staff can usually identify a person by bib number, but the team at the Color Vibe 5K would not have that luxury. While this might sound like an extreme criticism, I am a retired EMT. In my days of active EMS duty I was called upon to administer CPR to a runner. Had race officials had no way of identifying her she would have been labeled Jane Doe in a hospital. It pains me to do it but I have to mark Color Vibe with an F in regard to safety.
Enough about the negative, as a teacher I make it a point to end on a positive note. The pre- and post-race party for this event was amazing. The MC along with the DJ made everyone want to join in on the dance floor and shake their various movable parts. Every now and then they would also throw color packets into the crowd letting racers go nuts and have some fun. The party element gained Color Vibe an A+ from me.
Overall I have awarded Color Vibe four A+’s, one B-, one C, and two F’s giving my overall Color Vibe 5K experience a rounded up B average.
While there were a few hiccups along the way, I for one say bravo to the fine folks at Color Vibe for quite an enjoyable experience.
The dye came out of my white tee shirt with a little bit of bleach and laundry detergent – good as new! The only reminder of the race… I’m still getting the blue dye out of my ears!
Have you ever done one of these colorful runs? If so, what company? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below.