Ugh… I’m so torn on how to write about this run… do I complain for the next 500 words because it was terribly, TERRIBLY organized or do I try to find the bright spots? Am I completely mad at the organizers or am I also partially mad at myself?
Hmmm… I guess I’ll try to both find the bright spots and tell you why it was so terrible I can’t envision myself ever doing this run again (and tell you why my brother out-law is thinking about writing a letter of complaint to the organizers).
Back story: I run alone all the time. I’ve never gotten to run a race with anyone else. It’s lonely. So when I saw the Color Run (a run where they throw different colors at you every kilometer), it looked like so much fun I invited my boyfriend’s family to join me on a team. My boyfriend’s brother’s fiance, Sarah, is a runner. She was training for a marathon happening in April until she broke her foot over the winter, which obviously effed up her training. However, she’s now healed and she’s clearly a runner, so I knew I could talk her into a 5k. I also invited my boyfriend’s sister, Jen, because she keeps starting the Couch to 5k program. Jen also invited their aunt (by marriage), Jeannie, who is only 2 years older than Jen (Jeannie is 8 years older than me) and is super, super awesome. Jeannie is also a runner and regularly does races. Jen also signed her ten-year-old daughter up for the race.
I was super excited to do something fun with my boyfriend’s family! So excited that I bought decals from runnerdecals.com and made everyone a pint glass as a little gift.
Runner chick (about 1.5 inches tall) from RunnerDecals.com
Then, a few days before the race, Jeannie dropped out because the run is 3 hours from her house and her husband is super sick and she has small children.
The day before the race, Sarah dropped out because she was feeling swamped with work (and homework) and the race was about 2 hours from her house. At this point, I’m feeling really bummed. Jeannie and Sarah are the two that I fit in with best. I also learned a few days before the race that one of Jen’s friends would be joining us. By 5 o’clock on Friday, I was trying to reset my expectations, and change back to excited from disappointed.
Jen, at one point, told me that because I was the most fit, I could run my own race and they would see me at the end. But I told her that would defeat my goal. I was there to run with them, not alone, no matter the pace. We ended up walking 90% of the course. The walking was ok, but kind of boring. Oh well, right? So that’s why I might be a little mad at myself. I didn’t have a “runner’s high” when I reached the finish line. I wasn’t proud of myself for working it. It was just a leisurely stroll… that took us about an hour… (after running the 10k though, this 5k felt so short, in the good way)
Ok, now here’s why I’m mad at the organizers: first things first, their website is rubbish. It doesn’t have any race details, just explanations of how they attack you with color, etc. They never told us the address of the race, just the town: Amesbury, MA. For awhile, the website called it “The Color Run – Boston” which is really misleading… Amesbury is about an hour north of Boston on the NH border. Eventually they changed it to “The Color Run – New England” which is much more accurate. The website never had the start time of the race – they e-mailed us that 2 days before the race.
Next: e-mails! They sent a lot of information in e-mails, but some of the information they only sent to the team captain and she was supposed to send it to the rest of us. Hey Color Run, why? You have our e-mail addresses, you could have sent it to everyone! Plus, she didn’t know which we got and which we didn’t, so she didn’t send them to us.
Our group (plus one spectator – 6-year-old nephew) before the color run – still in the parking lot. We were team Pixel Pixies – Jen made us some really cool wings to wear.
My main complaint: traffic and parking! In many of the e-mails, they told us that “a lot of people” would be attending this race, but never said how many. They just warned us that we should carpool. They should have said what “a lot” meant. 2,000 runners? 20,000 runners?
We also weren’t allowed to park at the race (which wasn’t a loop – the finish line was legitimately 3.1 miles away from the starting line). We were assigned to a parking lot 7 miles (and 3 highway exits) from the finish line. There was another parking lot 12 miles away from the starting line. School buses would drive us from the parking lots to the start (and from the finish back to the lots).
The race was scheduled to start at 10 am (with waves until 10:45). At 9 am, we were one mile from the parking lot. At 10:30 we arrived at the parking lot! In our car, we all carpooled (as recommended), we were surrounded by hundreds of other people in their carpools. We jumped out of the car, hit the port-a-potties (EWWWW) and hopped on a bus. We made it to the starting line around 11 (and there was still at least one bus behind us).
Jen and her friend run through orange, the first kilometer marker
The finish line was visible from the highway and there were tons of rubberneckers trying to figure out what was happening there… woo congestion!
The course was beautiful. A couple of minor hills and it was mostly along a wide river. Simply lovely. And the color zones were fun! And being with T’s niece (and his 3-year-old nephew in a stroller) was great.
One downside, there was only one water stop (in the middle of a hot day in JULY)! Quality planning…
At the finish line
So we get to the finish line around noon and the line for the buses was at least 1/2 mile long and 10 people across. We ate lunch for an hour (we had to buy a Powerade because the water at the finish line tasted like pool water – chlorine and dirt!). Then we got in line ourselves… where we waited for 2 hours. We didn’t get to our car until a bit after 3 pm.
We were too late for the “color parties” so we made our own!
Getting to the race was stressful and congested. Then we were alone on the course. Once we got to the finish line we were stranded there. The buses couldn’t even get to and from because of accidents on the highway. It was so poorly organized! In other states, the Color Run might be ok, but having us park so far away and then be stranded was a poor idea. They simply couldn’t take care of the crowds.
Our entire group (with our spectators) waiting for the bus back to our car
Their tag line is “Happiest 5k on the Planet.” Unfortunately, I would disagree…