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My First 5K: The Most Colorful Run on The Planet

What a year — 2012 brought about many changes for me. One of them was a fresh outlook on fitness, food, and health. What a better way to cap off the year than with my very first 5K run?

The Color Run

From the first moment I heard about The Color Run, I was obsessed with doing one — watch this video and tell me you don’t feel the same! Unfortunately, my schedule would not cooperate. When it was in New York City, I was in Denver. When it was in Albany, I was in Oahu. And when it was in Oahu, I was on The Big Island. I was starting to think my Color Run dreams might not come true.

And then I saw there was a race on December 15th, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida — the next town over from my dad’s side of the family in Tampa. So I called my aunt and asked if she wanted to run 3.1 miles with me while being pelted with various colors of cornstarch powder. Lucky me — she said yes! It soon turned into a party with my Dad flying in from Philadelphia and my friend Paula, who I met at The Banana Bungalow, flying in from Dallas to cheer us on.

The Color Run

The Color Run is purely a fun run — it’s not even a timed event. At first I was a little disappointed to hear that, as I thought it would be fun to look back on my first ever 5K race time when I run my first marathon (ha!) But I got over it pretty immediately when I felt the energy in the air that early Saturday morning in St. Petersburg. There were thousands and thousands of people representing every age, walk of life, and level of seriousness. I was blown away by the creativity people showed in their outfits and costumes!

The Color Run

The Color Run

The Color Run

The race officially started at 9am but with such an enormous group it took over an hour to get all the waves out of the starting line. I was so glad we got out in one of the first groups. There was a sea of white in every direction. With dance music blaring, a DJ pumping up the crowd and prizes being thrown out to the loudest cheerers, it was the wildest 9am party I’d ever been to.

The Color Run

The Color Run

And then we were off! The race took us down Beach Drive, across the St. Petersburg Pier, and back up Beach Drive again. It was a fantastic route, with the ocean visible for a majority of the run.

And then there was what makes The Color Run so colorful — every kilometer, there’s a designated color station where runners are blitzed by color via volunteers and staff. First up was blue!

The Color Run

The Color Run

So far, so good — my aunt Karen and I teamed up with Wander The Map‘s Jenna and Micah (we found out we were both running thanks to Twitter!), so we had a nice little group going.

The Color Run

Next was orange, where I realized that after two kilometers I was still feeling great! Running three miles on a regular day would still be somewhat of a challenge for me — this does not come naturally to me — but it’s true what they say about that extra race day boost of energy!

The Color Run

The Color Run

Green and pink flew by, and soon we were at the final station — yellow! Here, our photographers Paula and my Dad were waiting for us with lenses raised. They got some amazing shots while they were waiting for us to appear.

The Color Run

The Color Run

The Color Run

I couldn’t believe some of the getups people were wearing. I need to be more prepared next time! All I did was take a pair of scissors to my Color Run T-shirt.

The Color Run

The Color Run

The Color Run

Before I knew it, we were at the finish line! It wasn’t quite the same feeling I had when I finished the Flower’s Sea Swim — in which I almost cried tears of happiness — but it was a fantastic moment nonetheless.

The Color Run

The Color Run

See the camera on Micah’s head? He made this awesome video from the run, and I even make a cameo! I challenge you not to smile when watching this.


No one was safe from the color — even the spectators! Post-finish line, it was time for the fun to begin.

The Color Run

The after party is the best part of The Color Run! I had never seen anything like it — thousands of people partying wildly at 10am. Upbeat music, energetic music, neon colors everywhere — it was basically one big sober rave.

The Color Run

The Color Run

The Color Run

The Color Run

The Color Run

The Color Run

The Color Run

The Color Run

The Color Run

The Color Run

That morning was one of my most purely joyful moments of 2012. I was surrounded by family and new friends, I had just ticked off a milestone in fitness (a year ago I couldn’t run a mile!), and there were bright shiny colorful smiles everywhere I looked. I can’t say I know where, but I know that I will run The Color Run again!

To cap things off, a few before and afters…

The Color Run

The Color Run

Are you a runner? Do you know of any other fun 5 or 10Ks like this? Would you travel to get to them like I did? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

36 Responses to “My First 5K: The Most Colorful Run on The Planet”

  1. The Guy says:

    I’ve never heard of the Color Run (or Colour Run as we would spell it in the UK) but it looks like lots of fun. Well done for doing it and to everyone who took part.

    I love your moving images photos, how did you do that on the web? They are fab.
    The Guy recently posted..The Emirates Business Class Lounge At Melbourne Airport

  2. Yay! I’m running the LA one in March with a friend, I can’t wait – but how did you take so many photos without your camera getting covered with coloured powder? I’m so paranoid about ruining either of my cameras…
    the life pursuit recently posted..Malibu sunset

    • Alex says:

      You’re going to have so much fun! The photos from the midst of the run were taken with an iPhone, which I stashed in my sports bra while I was running (ew maybe?). The yellow station photos and after photos are mostly from my Canon s100 and my friend’s Nikon SLR, which we were just somewhat careful with and then wiped down later.

  3. I signed up to do the Colorado run last year but ended up having to work through it. So I’m signed up now for the Gold Coast Australia run because I’m living here now and I’M SO EXCITED!!! I’m not sure what I’m going to do about taking photos though! haha I don’t have a waterproof camera which I assume would work great against these paints too…. I’ll see later. I’m doing it solo as I don’t know anybody yet, but I’m hoping I can convince somebody to join me.
    Chrystal McKay recently posted..Budget: Mexico

    • Alex says:

      Chrystal, if you are on Twitter try asking there! That’s how I found my Wander the Map running buddies :) No matter what, you’ll have a great time.

  4. Lindsey says:

    Ooooh, I was so bummed to fin out I was missing the Colour Run in my hometown – your photos make me even more jealous. Congrats on achieving something you couldn’t a year ago though. Rock on girl!
    Lindsey recently posted..Accidentally Flying Business Class with Philippine Airlines

  5. This is just too awesome for words! LOVE these photos!!!

  6. Diana says:

    How fun – and colorful! Ill be on the lookout for this one! Think you’ll do more running? It’s good to stick with buy easy to fall out of!

    • Alex says:

      It’s definitely harder to stick to here in Southeast Asia when I’m on the move so often — I get hesitant to take off running miles into an unfamiliar area. But I’m going to try to stick to my modest goal of once or twice a week :)

  7. Dad says:

    Well done write up of the event and the pics and video really capture the spirit and energy of the event.

    One minor detail, the body of water by the pier is not the ocean but Tampa Bay.

  8. Gorgeous photos, love the gifs Alex!! I want to do one of these, I love the idea of an ACTUAL fun run. I did a 14km a few years ago, the beginning and the end of my running career. It was a great feeling to finish, but not as fun as this looked!!!
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..Back in London Town Where it All Began

  9. Nia says:

    Aah! the color run was my first 5k also! I loved it! Awesome photos!
    Nia recently posted..Hiking in the Tent Rocks Canyon Trails

  10. Breanna Mansell says:

    The color run looks awesome, I have done two fun runs like that one was a 10k night race everyone glows1 You also get an awesome head lamp. Then there was mud hero in kananaskis country by Calgary. That was a blast because deep down we all want to roll in mud for fun!

  11. Jessica says:

    Looks like you had SO much fun! Those colors are gorgeous! And I’m sure it was awesome running with everyone in such high spirits! I actually wanted to sign up for the color run in NYC (which is occurring this summer), but I may be in hawaii(!!!) so I may not be able to :(

    Glad I was able to get a glimpse of it through your photos! Thanks!
    Jessica recently posted..A Lavish Photo Tour of St. Lucia

    • Alex says:

      Hey Jessica, check the date for the on in Oahu… you might luck out and get to do one on vacation :) I’m sure they will continue to do these in the future though… good luck!

  12. Jenna says:

    Love the photos! They turned out so good!! It was such a fun run–glad we got to meet up! Always nice to have running buddies :)
    Jenna recently posted..The Most Fun Small Town in America: Delray Beach, FL

  13. Lily says:

    Love all the pictures! Color run is definitely on my list. I love 5ks. You should check out the Electric Run next. I just did it last week and it was seriously a blast. Check it out http://electricrun.com/.

    • Alex says:

      Lily! That looks AMAZING! Thank you so much for sending the link, I just registered to be notified when they release dates for the second half of 2013! I really hope I can make it to one!

  14. Cat says:

    Yay!! I’ve been so looking forward to this post. Clearly I need to keep better tabs on my twitter else I would’ve known you were there – lesson learned. :) I got a pic of the kid in goggles on his dad’s shoulders too, so cute! I’m glad you had a blast, the Color Run is definitely one of the most fun things I’ve done. You’re not kidding about race day adrenaline helping actually run farther than you think you can. I think it was the first time I ran an entire 5k without stopping (not counting the color zones of course lol). The day after I was talking to a waitress in Tampa about a glow-in-the-dark run that sounds fun to try.
    Cat recently posted..Shadows – #FriFotos Theme

    • Alex says:

      Someone else was telling me about that glow-in-the-dark run as well! Sounds SO COOL! But I couldn’t find too much info on it… definitely trying to get to the Electric Run that someone else suggested in the comments. Maybe we will cross running paths again soon?!

      • Cat says:

        For real! These fun style runs are so much more motivational to me than a hard core race. I feel like we’re kinda on teh same “learning to run” path because I just started last year too and really don’t like it but know it’s good exercise. I’ve now done 2 color runs and 2 krispy kreme challenges (run 2.5 miles, eat 1 dozen donuts – or just 2 if you’re me & don’t want to barf!, run 2.5 miles back). The Electric Run looks fun!
        Cat recently posted..Shadows – #FriFotos Theme

  15. Julie says:

    I love the photos ! I signed up for the Color Run in Cologne in Germany, in 3 weeks ! I can´t wait, thank you for your post, very excellent !
    Julie recently posted..Récapulatif running de Juin

  16. Emily says:

    Doing a color run tomorrow and need to know how long it took to get the color out of your hair. I have blonde hair and I’m nervous about this!

  17. Maddy says:

    This looks SO fun! I’ve never done the color run (I should look this up!) but I got started running when my friend and I got into the Nike Women’s Half Marathon (it’s a lottery registration) in law school – have been doing it for the past 4 years! …which involves not training until we “get in” and then manically trying to regain our endurance in like, two months. Haha.

    So glad you’re getting into running! If you ever need a push to build up your endurance, I love recommending the Couch to 5K plan to people – it’s how I got started and got going without feeling like I was a failure for not just up and running 5 miles straight. It basically builds you up over teeny, stupid-seeming intervals, but it really works!

    You should come do the NWM in October, registration is open until June 19th! :)
    Maddy recently posted..One Two Three | Travel Necessities

    • Alex says:

      A few friends of mine have done Couch to 5K and really highly recommended it. I should do it some day, I still don’t think I could run a 5K without stopping. Running doesn’t come naturally to me, but events like this help make it fun!

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