The Color Run 5K Chicago

Before and After the Color Run

Before and After the Color Run

Last weekend, I finally got to run the Color Run 5K in Chicago. This is a very popular race that sells out very fast and it’s given rise to lots of other color/graffiti type runs all over the US and internationally. We signed up for this race in February (!!!) so it was very exciting to finally get to run it. Before running it, I tried to look up some info online about how to best prepare for it, and I managed to gather a few tips from the Color Run website and a few blog posts. I figured I would share how to have a great time at this race if you’ve already signed for it and some useful info for those who are thinking about signing up.

1. This race is mostly for fun as it is not timed, but you can still run it and maybe even get a PR (if you’re timing yourself) if you start in the 1st or 2nd wave! Since it is not timed there are no corrals and it’s mostly first come first lined up, but we were lucky to find a break in the fence and managed to start in the second wave. It was a great choice as the waves got more and more crowded and filled with more and more kids and strollers. Here is a picture showing how close we were to the beginning of the second wave and then the actual Start line further in the distance.

wave 2

wave 2

2. it does start on time! there was some confusion as the email said the start window is 8am-8:45am and some people were planning on showing up for a 8:45 start, but that’s the absolute latest time people can start since the race only has the streets closed for a certain period of time. Now, I am not sure if the 8:45 deadline was followed or not, but my advice is to show up early, at least 30 min before the beginning of the start window.

3. best running conditions are in the middle! we all know walkers don’t obey the stay on the left advice and you will have people walking on both sides (after biting my tongue a few times, I did tell some girls “walkers on the left” after a group of 4 of them were blocking the middle of the street!!!). In addition, most of the dye throwing people are on the sides, so if you want to run fast it’s probably best to avoid inhaling too much dye. They dye is safe, but it is dry so if it’s hot it will make it hard to breathe if you inhale too much.

4. as the name implies, this run is all about color! The color is safe and it does come off eventually, but if you don’t want it in your hair, you should either wear a hat/bandana and/or cover it with conditioner (coconut oil and olive oil are also advised, but I prefer conditioner :-)). There are ways to avoid getting covered in too much dye (avoid the dye throwers, don’t join in the post-race dye throwing by the stage), but what’s the fun in that? πŸ™‚ I wasn’t too colored after the race since I lifted my t-shirt over my face to avoid breathing in the dye, but after the dye shower by the stage, I was all covered in dye! Here is proof:

Color Run finisher post dye shower :-)

Color Run finisher post dye shower πŸ™‚

5. speaking of color again, the dye is very fine and gets into everything!!! most people choose to not bring their phones/cameras, but if you want pictures you can wrap your phone in plastic foil and/or place it in a ziploc bag. This worked very well for me and I am happy I got to snap a few pictures at the race.

6. select your clothes and gear carefully. I chose to wear the race shirt since it was a lower quality them my dry fit white shirt, but still light enough to be good for running. I highly recommend sunglasses/goggles and some people also choose to wear a bandana over their face. I just tried not to breathe too much during the dye showers and used the t-shirt to cover my face. Don’t bring your fancy watch/GPS gadgets/cameras as the dye can ruin them.

7. not sure about other cities, but there was NO gear check in Chicago. Part of the race packet, is a color pouch that you’re supposed to use at the end of the race. Make sure you bring something to hold it in together with your valuables. I managed to fit everything in my SPIbelt.

8. Run with friends! This race is a lot more fun run with other people and the organizers are encouraging this by giving a discount if you sign up as part of a team. We had a pretty big team, and while we couldn’t all run together for the entire course, it was a lot of fun to goof around in the color post-race πŸ™‚

The Rainbow Penguins Team!

The Rainbow Penguins Team!

9. Rinse, rinse, scrub, scrub, rinse πŸ™‚ Best way to get rid of the color from your skin is to rinse with lots of water and then scrub with some soap/shower gel. There were still a few difficult spots that I gave up on, but overall I cleaned up pretty nicely πŸ™‚ The shirt also cleaned up quite well and I’ve been able to wear it again. I soaked it cold water, rinsed and repeated it a few times. After most of the color rinsed out, I soaked the shirt overnight with some detergent and Vanish stain remover. Next day it was spotless (well, almost, there 2 tiny color stains, but they are not noticeable at all :-)). You can of course choose to throw it in the washer after rinsing the color out.

10. Be happy! It is the Happiest 5K after all πŸ˜‰ I finally managed to have a smiling picture snapped by a race photographer πŸ™‚

Happiest 5K

Happiest 5K

Hope you will to find a few useful tips in this post! Feel free to ask questions if I missed anything πŸ˜‰

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2 Responses to The Color Run 5K Chicago

  1. You look so happy and colorful! I had no idea that the dye wasn’t good to breathe (at least, not a lot of it…), it seems counter-intuitive for a runing race, but it seems like there are ways to keep yourself breathing mostly fresh air! Great tips! Sounds like such a fun day!

  2. that’s why it’s not timed πŸ™‚ I mean, nothing will happen to you if you breathe it, but it won’t be pleasant and it will make it harder to run. It got quite hot during the race and the dye is pretty dry since it’s cornstarch based, plus you have to make it through 3 waves of dye before the water station! Still, all worth it for a fun morning πŸ™‚ Probably the most fun I’ve had at a race!

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