What are you running next, Karen?

Over the weekend, some girlfriends and I became official Color Runners.  I’d link to their website so that you, too, could become a Color Runner.  But I like you.  This race was a logistical nightmare that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

But, first, the good stuff.  The Color Run (at least in its New England incarnation) is a 5K (really, maybe more like 2.6 mile) run through “color zones.”

The color dust is theoretically safe to ingest, should you be unlucky enough to actually have to breathe while running through a zone.  But, it doesn't taste very good.

The color dust is theoretically safe to ingest, should you be unlucky enough to actually have to breathe while running through a zone. But, it doesn’t taste very good.

Everyone wears white and at the end of the race, white isn’t so white anymore.  Let me illustrate…

I am such a dork.  And, what's with that pose?  I did that weird thing with my left arm twice!  Was once not dorky enough??

I am such a dork. And, what’s with that pose? I did that weird thing with my left arm twice! Was once not dorky enough??

Here’s the bad.

Everyone had to park 5.5 miles (or further) from the actual start line. 11,000 runners participated, which means thousands were waiting for the busses when we arrived.

Making matters worse, there were only a few porta potties in the parking lot. So, all us well-hydrated runners had to stand in line to potty before we could get in line for the bus. (As a result, Tina, who decided to run to the starting line for “a little extra exercise” had to wait for us to arrive.)

There was no bag check and it was a point to point race, so anything we wanted at the finish we had to carry through the whole race…which means that everything was covered in color dust by the end.

There was only one water station along the course (not bad for a 5K, I guess). But, the organizers didn’t even spring for bottled water. They gave us the most disgusting tap water I’ve ever tasted. You know when you drink water from a hose that’s been sitting out in the sun too long and the water tastes like rubber? Yeah…that was what the water tasted like.

As we approached the finish line, we had to wade through people walking in the opposite direction. (More on that later.)

Once we got past the finish line…more nasty tasting tap water. I took one sip and threw the rest away. I narrowly avoided being sick, and I am not one who gets sick easily.

There was no clean water (unless you wanted to buy it) and no food unless you wanted to buy BBQ. Oooh…but to buy BBQ you had to stand in another long line for tickets and then stand in another long line for food.

Organizers promised “blowers” to help clean us off after the race, but no…no blowers. (There’s a joke here about the rest of the race “blowing” but I’m going to avoid it.)

When we tried to get back to the parking lot, we discovered why there were so many people walking the wrong way during the last leg of the race. There were no busses to take people back to the parking lot! There were thousands of people waiting for hours in the hot sun for a bus, and we just couldn’t face the wait. Tina took one look at the line, grabbed my car key, and set off to run back to the parking lot. Go, Tina!

Organizers claimed there were multiple major accidents that caused the transportation issues at the end.  Fine.  I’ll grant them that.  The rest of the issues were unforgivable.

So, I do not recommend that you become a Color Runner.  What do I recommend???

The 7th Annual 5K / 10K For Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House!

How do I love this race, let me count the ways…

1.  Louisa May Alcott was my childhood hero.  (Yes, as a child, I rejected the words “heroine,” “actress,” and “Smurfette.”  I felt they were all diminutives and were therefore demeaning to women.  I believe Louisa would have agreed.)

2.  Louisa May Alcott created Jo Marsh, one of the first (and still the best) kick-ass, strong feminine characters.  Jo wanted to be a writer.  I wanted to be a writer.  Jo sometimes felt awkward and unattractive.  I always felt awkward and unattractive.  Jo earned the attention of her cute, rich neighbor.  I dreamed of having a cute, rich neighbor who would fall in love with me.  (Sadly, Joshua Tree is even less populated than Civil War eraConcord, Mass.  Jo Marsh had neighbors.  I did not.)

3.  The Alcott/Marsh families (the book was autobiographical, of course) encouraged their daughters to run and play and be athletic…at a time when such things were considered scandalous.

4, 5, 6…  There’s plenty of parking…at the start/finish line.  No porta potties…because there are real bathrooms.  Plenty of clean, fresh water.  Lots of snacks to choose from.  And bonuses.

Like…

Dudes with muskets at the starting line...

Dudes with muskets signaling the start…

A woman in a hoop skirt out in front...

A woman in a hoop skirt out in front…

The world's most awesome old man jazz band waiting for you at the end...

The world’s most awesome old man jazz band waiting for you at the end…

When it's all over, you can even snag an autograph from Boston marathon winner Uta Pippig.

When it’s all over, you can even snag an autograph from Boston marathon winner Uta Pippig.

I love the little running girl!

I love the little running girl!

If you’re not yet convinced, I give you this: The Color Run is put on by a for-profit company that cuts corners to increase their bottom line.

The Orchard House run is put on by a non-profit that lovingly supports its runners/walkers and uses the proceeds for educational and other programs at the former home of my childhood hero (and yours…if you know what’s good for you) Louisa May Alcott.

September 16, 2012. I hope you can join me.

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