by Nikole Weber
Launa Kressin, a junior Communication Studies major, cannot help but smile as she looks to the cluster of friends standing beside her, each doused in a unique pattern of colorful paints. Though The Color Run has ended, the ground throbs to the beat of the music, a reminder of each rhythmic stride that was completed.
For students like Kressin, The Color Run is an opportunity to go just a little bit wild.
“When college students have a free day, they want to do something out of the ordinary,” said Kressin, who was influenced by her thrill-seeking roommates to participate in The Color Run for the first time her freshman year.
The Color Run, widely known as “The Happiest 5K on the Planet,” proved so enjoyable for Kressin that she completed it twice: first in Los Angeles, and again while studying abroad in South Africa. The untimed fun run has swept the globe in the past two years since its inception, and has hosted more than 170 events in 30 countries. It is also a bucket list item for many Chapman students.
Themed races are a worldwide trend, featuring challenging obstacle courses, playful costumes, and unconventional props. While traditional races praise athleticism and speed, many of these hybrid events emphasize camaraderie, happiness, individuality and fun.
For The Color Run, participants arrive garbed in white clothing and are splattered with chalk-like paint at designated color stations throughout the five kilometer course. Each one of the four stations is dedicated to a specific color that race officials toss at passersby. Athletes are also given bags full of paint of used to adorn fellow runners’ clothes, hair and skin with vibrant hues.
“It’s like a little community because you’re all there for the same reason,” said senior Screen Acting major, Emma Turpen, who went to a Color Run in L.A. last year. “It’s a good vibe of everyone wanting to celebrate together.”
At the end of the race, participants come together for a celebration complete with music, food trucks, beer gardens, and massive color throws. Turpen described the after party as a “physical concert.”
“In the South Africa Color Run, they exploded colors off of the stage right when the DJ dropped the beat. By the end, you’re just a big colorful mess. Everyone just gives each other a high five and takes pictures and has a really fun time,” said Kressin.
Alternate races offer more opportunities to get messy while exercising, as senior Athletic Training major Blaire Buckley experienced when she romped through the Mud Run in the California city of Corona as part of a team brought together by a friend’s birthday celebration. While the muddy setting was not quite as vibrant, the atmosphere and people still were.
“Everyone’s really friendly and they want to know what your teams about and why you started the team,” Buckley said.
Although the event was challenging, Buckley deems it suitable for anyone seeking an entertaining way to get fit. For instance, beginner boot camps registered for the race as in teams to conquer the Mud Run as a milestone in their fitness journey together.
Buckley described the Mud Run as an easier and shorter version of the infamous Tough Mudder that has gained a reputation of being extremely strenuous and risky. The obstacle-course based Mud Run Buckley competed in included ten hurdles, many of them that required crawling or running through mud pits.
“Instead of just trying to exercise to lose a certain amount of weight, lots of people exercise so they can be in shape and be ready for this certain event. Even though it’s just a 5K, it is still a big accomplishment,” she said.
Just like Kressin, Buckley also itches to do more adventure runs in the future.
“When you get involved in something like [the mud run] it makes you want to keep doing more because it makes you feel good. It’s a good stepping stone to 10Ks and half marathons,” said Buckley.
Once time allows for more serious training, Buckley hopes to successfully finish the Tough Mudder.
Kressin also competed in the Mud Run with her high school cross country team a few years back. She recalled that the course was more difficult than she expected, but that there was no pressure to outperform one another.
“I could have done a lot more for the Mud Run as far as weight training, but by the end I just thought, ‘Whatever, I’m just going to have fun and get muddy,’” Kressin said.
Themed runs extend far past just mud and neon chalk, however. Other runs in Southern California include aspects such as bubbles, foam, glow sticks, costumes and even food.
Events like The Color Run and the Mud Run are popping up all around the globe, and the competitive nature of 5Ks and 10Ks has shifted to fit a wider range of athletic ability. There is a sense of community that runners feel when they come together for a common purpose. And in this case, the objective is simple: to have fun.