As the Color Run returns, Benita Adesuyan finds out what the rainbow-hued annual event is all about.
A quick scan of running events site Premier will tell you that Dubaians like to lace up their trainers and pound the streets. Following the success of the first Color Run in Dubai last year, the event dubbed ‘the happiest 5km on the planet’ is bringing its colourful cheer back to the emirate once again on Saturday November 29 at the Dubai Autodrome. Registration for the 5km event opens on Thursday August 28, so be quick off the marks to get involved.
The Color Run began in the US as a single event in 2011, founded by Travis Snyder. His aim was to get amateurs and pros running at the same event, and since its launch it has spread to more than 30 countries.
Unlike many sporting events, the Color Run is untimed and there are no medals – your prize is being doused in powder paints.
Fleur Castle at IMG Middle East, the organisers bringing the event to Dubai, says that the Color Run’s non-traditional style is what makes it so attractive. ‘It doesn’t matter if the most exercise you do is walking around the mall on a Saturday morning, or if you’re an Olympic athlete, we welcome everybody on the start line. It’s not about getting a personal best or a ten-minute mile, it’s just about having a good time.’
Last year’s debut in Dubai saw 9,000 runners sign up to participate, and the organisers are hoping to see up to 12,000 this year. ‘We’ve seen the success all over the world and we feel it’s about time the UAE got a piece of the action,’ says Castle. ‘The response [last year] was amazing, we sold out in a few weeks.’
Participants in the Color Run have to wear white and as they take to the course at the Autodrome, they’ll be covered in coloured powder every kilometre. In addition, there will be a ‘colour throw’ every 20 minutes, when a DJ hypes up the crowd and everyone throws powder in the air. All of this combines the fun and health benefits of a standard fun run with the party vibe of a carnival and the dazzling hues of the traditional Indian festival Holi.
‘The atmosphere is so amazing and electric,’ says Castle. ‘The powder is made from food starch, so it’s totally safe, but by the time they get to the finish line they’ll be one big rainbow of colour runners coming through, covered head-to-toe in different colours.’
The event ends with a ‘finish festival’, where runners and spectators can revel in the colourful carnival. ‘Part of the reason why it works so well for us and our partners [Dubai lifestyle consultancy] Active Life is that it’s really all about getting involved. It really appeals to everyone. We have a broad spectrum of people in the UAE and we see that at the Color Run. We have little toddlers on their dad’s shoulders, groups of teenage friends, people pushing pushchairs, and we had two Olympic athletes last year.
I think that’s what it is all about, it’s a melting pot of cultures.’
Last year’s event was attended by double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes from the UK and Egyptian triathlete Omar Nour. Famous faces haven’t yet been confirmed for this year’s event, but organisers say it’s a run for the people, with US$1 (Dhs3.60) from each entry fee going to charity. ‘To be honest, this event is more about the community and people getting involved, and realising that getting active and fit isn’t about pounding the treadmill.’ Registration opens on Thursday August 28. Purchase your running pack at www.colorrun.ae or at Adventure HQ stores. Run takes place Saturday November 29 at Dubai Autodrome, Motor City.
More wacky races to enter
The Contagion Run, October 31 Sign up as a zombie or survivor and tackle an obstacle course in this freaky Halloween fun run. Dhs50 (for zombies), Dhs300 (for survivors). Nad al Sheba bike and jogging track, www.contagionrun.com
Glow & Go 5km Fun Run, September 26 Don your neon trainers and glowsticks for this luminous night run. Cool down after the race with a splash in the pool and a DJ party. Dhs150 per person, Wadi Adventure, Al Ain, www.premieronline.com
Ice Warrior, November 1 Take on a challenge in the snow at Ski Dubai with obstacles including a cargo net crawl, zorb ball maze, black run climb and monkey bars. Dhs200 per person, Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, www.premieronline.com
Brighten up your kit
Monitor your training progress with a Garmin Vivofit Fitness Band. Dhs669, available from www.garmin.ae.
Get on the track in these cool kicks. Reebok CrossFit Nano 4.0, Dhs459, available from Reebok, The Dubai Mall (04 434 0606).
Look the part in the gym in these spangly leggings. Dhs240, available from Adidas, Mall of the Emirates (04 347 7007).