When preparing to run a traditional 5k, most runners make sure to don their best pair of shorts, most reliable shoes, and are up early to stretch out, get their race number, and are focused squarely on getting to the finish line.
But for The Color Run, which is also known as 'The Happiest 5k on the planet,' the journey to the end of the race is just the beginning.
The race takes all the pressure of finishing on time, wearing the right gear, and weeks of training out of the equation and adds music, fun and color - lots, and lots of color, says Jessica Nixon, The Color Run' s public relations specialist.
"There's going to be four color zones, and in these zones they're going to have volunteers and staff on the side basically throwing color powder at them," she says. "It's really just kind of a celebration that you were able to finish the 5k, and all the participants have their bags of colored powder that they're all going to throw at the same time."
The event was created two years ago by Utah native Travis Snyder in an effort to put more excitement into racing, the event has experienced rapid growth since the first Run was held two years ago in Phoenix. Last year, they hosted over 170 races around the world. Crowds have reached in the ups of 25,000 participants for past races, and has been held in Grand Rapids and Ypsilanti in years past. This is the first year it is coming to Kalamazoo.
"You're going to get all kinds of people out there, people that aren't into running or exercise will come out because it's novel, and it's fun, and they know it's not about being athletic per se," says Maria Swiftfoot, the community outreach events coordinator for Gazelle Sports. A runner for over four decades, she says the run can also serve as a break for regular racers, and is a chance to get the entire family to participate.
"Not everybody's thrilled about running, but the thought of 'Oh let's get go get crazy with my friends, my family, we're going to have great pictures to share on Facebook, etcetera. So I think people who are not fully sedentary could probably go from maybe not working out or very little working out to probably could walk, jog or walk some of it," she says.
Jackson native and first-time Color Runner Shyeasha Ragland is planning to apply the walk-run strategy when she participates in the Kalamazoo race.She says she first heard about it from her coworker, and was intrigued by its no-pressure aspect. "There's not a winner there's not a prize, it's more about getting out there and doing a 5k rather than 'Oh I need to be in first place' or I need to do it in this time.' When I get there I'm just going to go for it," she says.
"I have Nikes that I work out in, but I'm not going to wear them 'cause I know there's going to be color in the air and I don't want to mess them up. This is my first time doing it so I'm going to have to make sure I read those instructions of how to get the color off of me and my hair and everything."
There will be another Color Run held in Ypsilanti in June, and in Grand Rapids in August.