Race Recap: Chicago Color Run 5K

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Sunday was the ninth annual Color Run in Chicago.

The Color Run Chicago is not your average 5K; participants started out in clean, white clothing, and finished covered in multicolored paint made of cornstarch.

Hundreds of runners gathered in Grant Park Sunday morning to participate in the fifth annual Tropical Color Run 5K, also known as the “Happiest 5K on the Planet.” In fact, there were so many competitors, that when the beginning waves were running through the finish line, some waves were still waiting to start.

Although it was technically a race, The Color Run’s reputation for being a fun, relaxed race holds true; there were no clocks or distance markers on the course, and no awards for top finishers. This causal format allowed runners to simply enjoy the colorful environment without worrying about time or place.

The course itself was fairly quick and flat as it weaved in and out of surrounding streets. After about a mile, hundreds of volunteers gathered at various spots on the course, wearing specific colors and sprayed that color paint at the runners passing by. On the course were yellow, pink, orange and blue stations, and each station could be seen from afar as a heavy smoke floated above.


At the finish, which ran into the middle of Grant Park, volunteers stood with all different colors and intensely sprayed the runners. Racers received a medal with a tropical ribbon, and a packet of the powdered paint to throw. Participants also obtained a t-shirt, headband and toothbrush set in their registration packets.

The day did not end at the finish line, however; the post-race party resembled a concert mosh pit, where volunteers stood on a stage tossing Color Run swag to the audience below with loud music playing. Every 10 minutes or so, the crowd partook in a “color throw” where more multicolored paint was thrown into the air and covered the runners.

This years theme was #Tropicolor, with beach-like props surrounding the post-race party. Sunday’s sunny skies and humidity added to that theme, giving runners the real feel of being in tropical place.

The Color Run is the largest event series in the world, and travels to over 35 countries to host more than 225 events.

View photos from the event here.

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Holly's running career began in high school; after being bummed about not making the volleyball team her sophomore year, she decided to join some of her middle school friends on the cross country team. She also did track in the fall, where the 1600 m race was her niche. Since then, she has run several 5Ks, and completed her first half marathon in July 2015. She graduated from Illinois State University in May 2016 with a degree in journalism.