Race to the finish: Ottawa’s first Color Run fun for all ages and fitness levels

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Josh Finn was born and raised in Ottawa and currently works as a policy analyst at Transport Canada. While he is passionate about travelling, he also enjoys discovering the hidden treasures of his hometown. In his spare time, you can find Josh running or cycling along the canal, participating in sports leagues, volunteering with local organizations or lining up to test the best local food trucks.

Its tagline is the ‘Happiest 5K on the Planet’ and it was hard to find anyone in the 3,500 strong crowd without a smile on their face at the first ever Ottawa Color Run this past Sunday.

From the moment I arrived at the Canadian Tire Centre (formely Scotiabank Place), the energy was palpable with music, some colourful costumes, overly-enthusiastic hosts and a long line-up of runners – including many first-time runners – ready to add a bit of colour to their day. There were none of the pre-race jitters that generally accompany waiting at the start line. With runners released in waves, it took about 40 minutes for us to start but the pre-race host kept the crowd entertained with giveaways and getting us to chant and jump up and down.

Spotting someone yawning in the crowd – described as the ultimate Color Run faux-pas – led to a 10 jumping jack penalty.

Finally, we were off and running.

IMG_1218[1]Along the way, there four ‘colour zones’ where we were showered with a different colour of powder. It seems strange that something as simple as getting coloured cornstarch being thrown at you acted as a motivation but spotting the next zone did put a smile on my face and made me forget I was basically weaving my way around the vast swathes of parking lots surrounding the Canadian Tire Centre.

While perhaps not the most scenic or inspiring route, according to the organizers the site was chosen to be a compact area, amenable to families with young children. Many children did take part in the event and joined in with adults who were given permission to be kids again during the fun-filled morning.

After running and twirling our way through the pink, blue, yellow and orange stations, becoming more and more colourful along the way, we hit the finish line where we were given our own colour packets to bring to the official ‘after party.’’

A stage was set up for “Color Runners” to dance along to peppy pop hits and every few minutes launch colour packets in the air to create a ‘colour bomb.’ Again, it couldn’t help bring a smile to your face as we got even more covered in coloured powder and a rainbow cloud surrounded us.

The goal of the Color Run is to promote health and happiness. With 60 percent of Color Runners having never participated in an organized run before, it seemed to be a great way to get people – particularly young people – who may not have considered running to get off the couch and get active. There were participants young and old and of all fitness levels.

The Color Run makes it clear they are a for-profit organization – not a charity – and with Color Stores at the event and online selling everything from sunglasses to tutus it seems that they have perfected the marketing of colour to a tee.

photoAfter five Canadian stops this summer, the Color Run promises to expand to other Canadian cities in 2014 and hopes to make a return to the Captial next year.

After a few more colour bombs, it was time for the drive home. While some of the colour was able to come off my clothes and skin thanks to giant leaf blowers stationed near the exit, the remaining colour led to some perplexed looks from other drivers along with one last smile as I looked in the mirror at my multi-coloured face before jumping in the shower.

It was another reminder that it doesn’t take much to be happy – it just requires a choice and maybe a little bit of colour.

Thanks Josh! Do you participate in local runs? Which are your favourites?