I assembled a crack team of athletes for the Mannheim event (known as team Team), made up of 8 people from the MPIA, although we dwindled to 7 on the day, owing to injuries and unexpected travel plans. We were a superb septet though, consisting of myself, Melissa, Luis, Casey G, Kate, Emer and Tom, and we were ready to kick some butt and take some names! Or, you know, wander around and get some paint thrown at us.
|The fabulous team Team (minus Tom who had nipped to the loo)|
As the Colour Run fell on a Sunday, it clashed with the normal long run day, where I was supposed to be taking on 22km (as were Melissa and Luis). To make up for this oversight, we decided that we would run to the SAP Arena in Mannheim, which was handily located precisely 17km from Heidelberg. So at 9am on the Sunday morning (3 hours before the start time), Melissa and I headed out, armed with maps and bus passes (in case we got lost and had to hop on a tram). The rest of team Team were meeting us at 11am so that we could pick up our numbers and get our Colour Run kits.
The weather was predicted to be unpleasant and rainy, but for our run to the race, we experienced very little rain, which we were grateful for. I didn't much fancy hanging around for an hour at the start with wet clothes (although team Team were bringing us some extra layers, just in case). And, we managed to make good time, and not get lost at all (although we had a couple of near-misses, one of which would have added about 5km to our run). We both decided that an adventure run, that wasn't just out-and-back, was a more pleasant way to do a long run, as the uncertainty of the route distracted you from the distance. We plan on doing a few more of these for our long runs over the next 10 weeks (gulp... is that all that's left?!?).
We arrived at about 10:40, so earlier than the rest of team Team, and we waited for Luis to catch up with us (he left 30 minutes after we did, but we only had to wait about 5 minutes for him...). Then, we got in the huuuuuuugggggeee line for number collection as we waited for the rest of our team, who turned up at about 11:20.
Once we got our packs, we all donned our Colour Run t-shirts and headbands, and handed in our excess baggage to the onsite bag storage (love a well organised bag storage facility at a race) before heading to the start line. We were quite far from the front, and it turned out they were doing staggered starts. Really, given that we were planning on running (not walking like many, MANY of our fellow competitors), we should have wiggled our way to the front. Also, just before the start, the rain started coming in earnest for 10 minutes, which was particularly unfortunate for me, Melissa and Luis, as we were already rapidly cooling off from our long run to the event. Throwing our bags of paint powder into the air as the first runners headed out, covering us and our fellow runners in a multi-coloured powdery haze, momentarily distracted us, but then we were back to feeling cold and miserable for about 15 minutes as we waited for our time to start running.
As we got closer, Melissa snuck into the group in front of us, getting herself a slightly earlier start. However, she was at the back of a mostly-walking group, which I think she found frustrating. The rest of team Team got ourselves into position at the very front of the next start, and sprinted off as the tape fell to release us into the race. It was actually pretty hilarious as we seemed to be the only runners, so we quickly found ourselves leading our group by quite some distance. I've never been at the front of a race before! It felt good! But, it wasn't long until we ran into the back of Melissa's group, and that's where things started to get a little frustrating.
I have no objection to people coming and walking these type of events. We knew that there would be walkers when we signed up, and none of us were there to run a PB, or any time that we might consider fast. We just wanted to see what all the hype was about. That being said, the organisers of the Colour Run could probably do more to separate out runners and walkers than they did. Especially as the Mannheim route turned out to be on rather narrow pathways, that made passing large groups of walkers, or people taking selfies, really tricky. We were also brought to a complete stop at a couple of the Colour Stations, where volunteers cover you in paint powder that they have spewing from industrial sized vats (sidebar: wearing sunglasses at such events is something I can highly recommend!!). This could easily be addressed by doing something similar to the organisers of the Race for Life 5km events in the UK, where there are different starts for runners, joggers and walkers. People still self select into these bins, so it doesn't get rid of all the problems, but it's much better. They also request that walkers stick to one side of the course, so faster people can easily pass.
And so, for the first 3.5-4km, we ran a ragged, stop-start kind of race, frequently walking, or leaping into fields of crops to overtake some of the walkers. But, in the last km or so, the crowds thinned out, and we were able to stretch our legs and get a fast finish. And, despite the grumblings above, I did have a good time. The paint stations were crazy, and the atmosphere was really positive, despite the rain. So all in all, I enjoyed it. But team Team all agreed that, while it was a fun experience, it's not one we feel the need to ever repeat.
|Post run colourful!|
As for the Colour part, that was great! And for those of you worrying about it staining, I managed to get it out of all my clothing. I haven't tried my shoes yet, but given they're fluorescent yellow, the powder really had little effect on them. The main issue I had was removing the massive amounts of blue powder that some overly enthusiastic volunteer sprayed down the back of my t-shirt, and feeling like I still had powder up my nose and in my ears for about 48 hours...
|Team Team in the aftermath. Victors all!|
So, my final words of advice to those planning on entering such an event: Expect to walk, try to get to the front if you want to run, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the powder, and throw as much paint at your fellow runners as possible. You'll have a good time, so long as you don't take any of it too seriously :) Oh, and be prepared for people to stare at you during your commute home!