It’s spring! The clouds have cleared, the ground is dry and the air is fresh, signaling the beginning of recreational outdoor activities. Hiking, going to the beach or having a picnic are common things for people to do this season, but what leisurely activities are there for the more athletic people to participate in? Five kilometer (5k) races! The Spartan race, the Color Run or the Bubble Run are examples of “fun runs,” or races that revolve around a central activity to get a break from just running. These races seem like a fun break from the monotony of a regular 5k, but it’s really just a bunch of smoke and mirrors (or paint or bubbles or mud). Just to clarify, I still enjoy running and it’s definitely a different experience than just a normal run in the park. However, it’s not much of a race for more experienced runners, and if you’re looking for a fun, spontaneous thing to do, this is not something I would suggest. There are a lot of people who really enjoy these races, but I’m here to warn you. Before you take on the challenge of running a 5k, there are some complications that many first-time runners don’t think about.
The Health Effects
I thought that the Color Run would be cool, but there are a few things that the website doesn’t mention. The best memory that I’ll have from my first completed 5k is not the excitement of my finishing my first race, but the following events. After I washed off the colored powder, I thought that my skin was dyed red all over my arms and legs. It wasn’t. It turns out that I had a mild allergic reaction to the powder, leaving me with a rash for the rest of the day. Even when I ran in the Bubble Run, I knew what I was getting into, but that didn’t stop me from slipping and sliding all over San Jose. I left that race with scrapes and bruises and red eyes from the soapy bubbles. The Spartan Race was the only event that I was proud of my injuries. That obstacle course left me with cuts and bumps from going through the mud, jumping moats and throwing javelins. I left all of the races with cool gear and awesome pictures, but some races hurt more than others.
The Reality of the Fun
My first fun run was with a group of friends and was a last minute event to sign up for before we all went on vacation for the summer. With our white T-shirts ready for color, we began. For the first five minutes, it was so fun! Colors and laughter were everywhere, but as the running continued, the air cleared and the noise died down; it was just a normal race. There was one color station in the middle and one at the end for the photo ops, but that was it. This pattern is basically the same for every race, with a big group activity at three or four stations. Again, I want to emphasize that the stations are very well executed and enjoyable, but it only happens three times. If you decide to go on a fun run, go with others and enjoy the company, and then relish in the fun every three miles.
So I didn’t prepare to actually run a 5k, ok? A piece of advice I would give to anyone running any kind of race would be to try running or walking the distance in one sitting. The Color Run was very fun, but it took me over an hour and a half to complete. I definitely spent a lot of time at the Color Stations, but I could not find a comfortable pace the entire time. It’s hard to see other people who actually prepared for the race speeding by you. From sprinting to barely moving, it was never a comfortable race to run.