16 Jan

With Flying Colours

A runner embraces her new multi-coloured appearance at a Color Run event.

Having powdered paint thrown at you during a 5k may not sound like the most appealing offer, but the concept has seen America's The Color Run become one of the fastest growing running events in history. Billing itself as the 'Happiest 5K on the Planet' the event has two basic rules - wear something white and make sure it is plastered in colour by the end of the race.

Each kilometre is associated with a different colour (yellow, orange, pink, and blue) which is blitzed onto oncoming runners by volunteers, sponsors and staff. Entrants are even given the option of eating the powdered paint if they so wish, although organisers warn that it is high in calories and leaves a chalky aftertaste. It isn't just Americans enjoying the colour-fest as the event was recently launched in Australia, with locations including Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. There is now talk of introducing the format to the UK. www.scottishrunningguide.com asked some Americans for their thoughts.

Mary Bandy, who took part in the inaugural Memphis Color Run, thinks it will prove popular across the Atlantic: "I'm sure there are plenty of colour enthusiasts who would enjoy it in the UK. This year was the first time they brought it to Memphis, and I think it was a bigger hit than even the Color Run people expected.

"It's really exciting and who doesn't enjoy a huge cloud of rainbow powder in the air? For the most part, my sister and I just pelted each other as often as possible. I agree with their slogan - it really has to be the happiest 5K on the planet."

The view from the volunteer's side of things at the New Orleans Color Run.

As well as being an enjoyable event to participate in, the Color Run is said to be one of the most fun to volunteer at. Zachary Tompkins decided to try this theory out at the New Orleans Color Run which takes place during Mardi Gras. He had initially hoped to coat his friends in paint, but the elements conspired against him, as he explained: "I thought it would be more cathartic to pummel my friends with colour packets, but with only the slightest breeze the throwers were nearly equally covered in the neon powder."

The original Color Run was held in Arizona and there are now events in over 100 US cities, including Boston, New York, and San Francisco. Washington DC also hosts an event which Catie Amsden, a regular 5k runner, took part in. She found the experience a refreshing change from your average 5k: "It keeps you excited about running because you are always looking for the next checkpoint. I've run other 5ks but they weren't nearly as fun. Everyone at the race is super excited. I would highly recommend the race to competitive runners as well as walkers and kids. It's a race I would run in again if it comes back to my area."

Although there are no definite plans to bring the event to the UK, there appears to be a growing demand for it with an 'Add a Color Run in the UK' Facebook page being set up. And it seems from our US friends' ringing endorsements that the event would be quite a success. To paraphrase an old American saying: '"these colours do run!"

For more information on the Color Run visit the event website.