The Happiest 5k's on Earth returned to Newcastle Jockey Club on May 11th 2014 and I have to say, as a first time Color Runner, the title is not an exaggeration. It's a strange concept, but being attacked with coloured powder and liquid by complete strangers who high five you and yell motivational slogans at you is surprisingly uplifting. It also could have been the jams they were pumping through each section to encourage runners to dance, or being engulfed in the energy of over 10 000 Novocastrians… probably a combination of all these things. In any case, the point is this is a freaking fun, fabulous day that you need to experience, if you haven't already.
So this is how it works. You buy your ticket (you can buy individual tickets or team tickets if you have more than four people) and hopefully register for one of the free charity pages the event provides so you can raise money for a charity of your choice. You then pick up your official Color Run pack (which includes a shirt, bib and pins, sweat band, and temporary tattoos) from a designated location and rock up on the day in your best whites or funniest costumes ready for a day colourful shenanigans. Now, I have to say, there were some truly fantastic costumes out there, such as the wonderful Smurf Family that came out to play – I was impressed by the sheer dedication of painting themselves blue and they looked amazing. Tutus were everywhere, crazy wigs, bow ties, mohawks, leggings, and one lovely lady made a very special announcement with her Color Run costume: Congratulations Michelle Morris from Holmesville Playhouse Preschool on your pregnancy!
Before the fun run starts, you can be entertained by Zumba for warm ups, photo stations like the Crocs photo jump, and the fabulous Color Dancers. They were champions, entertaining the crowd as they waited to start the fun run, improvising moves, flips and splits just to keep the rabble as orderly as possible. Runners could also take the opportunity to visit the merchandise store, check-in if you hadn't already, or visit the charity store. This is a great opportunity for people who may not have been aware that you can make your run a charity fundraiser, or whatever your reason may be, to chip in. The Swisse Color Run raises money for the Celebrate Life Foundation, which donates to disease prevention research and health and happiness causes, and the Newcastle specific charity partner is Make-A-Wish Australia, which grants wishes to sick children. There was also a charity of the day which you could donate to at the Charity Store by buying special merchandise; the charity was Hunter Medical Research Institute – so lots of opportunity to give on the day, as well as have fun.
Speaking of fun, now for the actual run. The only rules (other than obvious common sense) are walkers or dancers to the left and runners to the right. Otherwise you can make the five kilometres anyway you want: walk, skip, dance, jog, run, jump, cartwheel, meander, shuffle, amble, trudge, or whatever forward motion strikes you at the time, that doesn't endanger the people around you. At each kilometre, runners will be bombarded in colour – colour station 1 was orange, station 2 was blue, station 3 was pink, station 4 was yellow and station 5 was the finish line where runners received a powder packet (with a total of 19 colours handed out – including green, purple, teal, and red). Each station was accompanied by motivational staff who would high five you and tell you how well you were doing, and some funny little colour-pun signs – which were adorable by the way.
My favourite part of the course though was Bubble Land (I don't know if they actually called it this, but this is what I have dubbed it). Bubble Land is a stretch along the course that has bubble machines set up on either side of the runners and just they blow an insane amount of bubbles out so that you are literally surrounded in this magical cascading wave of bubbles. I don't know if it was the bright pink tutu I was wearing or, if this is a legit feeling that other runners from yesterday also experienced, but it felt magical and I was a princess in a bubble kingdom for about 30 seconds. It was absolutely wonderful.
After the runners finished the course the aptly named Finish Festival kicked off. With a stage, DJ, and MC's throwing out Frisbees and powder packets, the energy was palpable from he crowd's free-stuff frenzy. The mystical mascot of the event, the Runicorn, made an appearance up on stage dancing to the music and interacting with the crowd, but my favourite part of the festival – and I'm sure this is everyone's favourite too – was the Color Throw. The Color Throw looks amazing from every angle, and although some people were a little too keen and threw their powder early, the sight of all those colours coming together in a big cloud over a crowd of thousands of people is truly something to behold. If for no other reason, you should do next year's Color Run just to see that, and I promise you, it is amazing.
All the stores and activities are open during the Finish Festival and there are also food and beverage stands open if you need a feed, including the much-loved Harry's Schnitzels.
Overall, this event was a huge success, as it has been in every city during its Australian tour this year, and you should go Like The Color Run Australia Facebook page – check out the photos from the NEWY album and keep yourself updated for 2015.
Thank you to the Swisse Color Run Australia, their radio partner NXFM, and host venue The Newcastle Jockey Club, for making this event happen and for inviting Weekend Notes out to the event.