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The Color Run Little Rock: how to survive the planet’s happiest 5K

Submitted by Chelsey McNiel on October 18, 2012 – 2:17 pmNo Comment

The Color Run Memphis was my first 5K and it was less about making good time and more about enjoying a color-filled day with friends. The race welcomes all types from casual strollers to Olympic athletes, but the most important thing is to have fun and cross the finish line covered in “Willy Wonka goodness,” according to


Become a color runner

The Color Run Little Rock registration does not have a deadline, but it’s first come first serve. The website warns runners to sign up fast because there is a cap on the registration slots. The event costs $50 as of Oct. 15, but increases to $55 starting Nov. 1.  If you can assemble a team of four or more, it’s $5 cheaper per person.

The fee includes your registration, a Color Run T-shirt, a color runner headband and after party color packet. Participation also benefits Little Rock’s Parks and Recreation which is sponsoring the race, according to I had only one worry signing up for The Color Run; no refunds, not even due to inclement weather.

Whether you choose to run solo or with a team, I highly recommend a costume. At The Color Run Memphis I saw tutus, rainbow wigs, and white Elvis jumpsuits. The only requirement at the starting line is a white shirt; almost anything else goes. Team costumes will not only help you locate your running mates in a sea of a thousand white shirts, but are also part of the crazy, friendly atmosphere.

Another benefit to costumes is maximum skin coverage. The weather in Memphis on Oct. 13 was still comfortably warm, but in another few weeks Little Rock could be seasonably chilly. Also, the colored powder made from corn starch and dye, which is showered on you during the entire event, can be a little tricky to remove from your sweaty skin. (I’ll cover that later.) For now, just know the more skin covered, the less you will look like a multi-colored smurf the next day.

After registering you will receive an email about a week before race day giving you specifics on what to bring, where to park and where to pick up your Color Run Packet. A designated place will be available a couple days before race day to pick up your packet which includes: a Color Run T-shirt, headband, runner number and a color packet of brightly colored powder.

My team and I picked up our packets the morning of the race and had to stand in line for about 15 to 20 minutes. The Color Run Memphis staff worked quickly, but I would recommend picking up your packet the day before. That will also prevent you from having to carry extra baggage during the race.


On race day

Make the first “wave” of runners. Runners are sent through the starting line a few hundred at a time so the color stations do not become too congested. Color stations are spread throughout the race route and are where you get sprayed with different colored powder at each station.

At The Color Run Memphis I was in the fifth wave of color runners, which was about the middle of the crowd; however, it was still too late for a couple stations. Volunteers had run out of colored powder before my wave of runners made it through. A couple of my teammates and I resorted to rolling on the ground to pick up the extra powder and get our coloring.

To achieve maximum color coverage, of course wear a mostly white outfit, but also run to the left or right side when making your way through the color stations. Volunteers are lined up on both sides of the stations with squeeze bottles and buckets full of colored powder to lavishly decorate you. One volunteer may be in the middle of the station but not at all of them.

If you have trouble breathing in dusty places, I would recommend wearing a mask or tying a bandana around your mouth as you pass through the color stations. It will not only keep the powder from staining your teeth, but help you breath a little easier. Swim goggles or sunglasses are also nice to have on hand.

Water stations were set up at two locations during The Color Run Memphis. One at the mid-point of the race route and at the finish line. You can also carry your own water bottle.

Because The Color Run is a “fun run,” it’s “open to all speeds, ages, shapes and sizes,” according Don’t expect to make your personal best time on this route. The day is more about family and friends being healthy together and having fun. Numerous families show up pushing strollers and toting small children, so keep an eye out while maneuvering through the crowd.


The after party

Save your color packet until after the race; you’ll want it for the after party. Once a couple waves make it past the finish line the after party picks up with blasting dance music and free merchandise tossed to the crowd. The Color Run calls itself the “happiest 5k on the planet,” so don’t be afraid to show off your dance moves and join in the fun.

About every 20 minutes a “color throw” will be announced, so get ready to use your color packet. Once your first color packet is gone, that may be it for you unless you are lucky enough to grab one that The Color Run staff are chunking out into the crowd. But don’t fret, the community of color runners will be more than willing to spread the love. A medical tent is also available if you acquire any wounds along the way.


Cleaning up

Visit The Color Blower station before you leave the after party. The Color Run recommends getting all excess powder removed before applying any water. The powder is made from corn starch and dye so soap and water should remove most of your hard earned art, but it may take a couple of good scrubbings.

A good body scrub and lotion will help, but don’t expect to be completely color free for a day or two. Coconut or olive oil will help prevent coloring in your hair if applied pre-race, according to Or you can just wear a hat. You can take a few precautions but the colored powder is like sand, it gets everywhere.

If you have never run a 5k, The Color Run Little Rock on November 10th would be a great place to start. For more information visit



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