Downtown Grand Rapids, MI
August 5, 2012
BY :: The Sparkly Stellafly
PHOTOGRAPHY :: IAN ANDERSON
A typical Sunday morning in downtown Grand Rapids is very quiet with just the sounds of a few passing cars or quiet conversation. However, as I walked through the streets this morning there were people of all ages in white shirts, sweatbands around their heads, and brightly colored wristbands on their arms. Some had tutus, many were wearing neon knee socks, and several were wearing protective eyewear. This was the scene of the inaugural Color Run Grand Rapids. There were 11,000 excited runners, walkers, and riders (including little ones in strollers covered with plastic) who were very excited at the prospect of completing what is known as “The Happiest 5K on the Planet.”
The Color Run is focused much less on speed and much more on just having a good time, therefore it is not timed. Along the route, there are four color stations—yellow, orange, pink, and blue—that spray runners with powder as they pass through. It’s seems like a reverse laundry detergent ad where in the beginning everyone is dressed in clean white shirts, and as they cross the finish line they are covered in colored dust. Each participant is given a packet of color to use as they cross the finish line and at the end it’s a no-holds-barred color fest.
Before the run, however, there was a flurry of activity on Calder Plaza as those who were participating spent time getting psyched up and ready for the most fun they will ever have in a 5K. There was plenty of music and Color Run staff even led group warm-up exercises in front of the main stage. The Color Run Store was open for business, selling everything from tattoos to hoodies. Promptly at 8:30, the first wave of 1,000 started off and with each group, the excitement seemed to build. Soon you could see clouds of color throughout the race route.
Each Color Run event connects with a local nonprofit, who receives a portion of the registration costs from each participant. The Grand Rapids event partnered with the West Michigan Sports Commission and the Van Andel Institute’s Purple Community. Because of the Van Andel Institute’s involvement in Sunday’s event, they added a special purple section to the race.
After crossing the finish line, the 11,000 Color Runners (as they will now be able to call themselves) gathered at Calder Plaza and enjoyed a fantastic dance party and celebration. All of the fun clothes and accessories aside, it was clear that the most beloved souvenir of the day was the dusting of color. Stained clothing, skin, and colored hair seemed to be a badge of honor for everyone who took part. Happiest 5K on the Planet? Yes, I would say so. Congratulations Color Runners!