An explosion of colour has hit the UK running scene after the arrival on these shores of a 5k running phenomenon from America. The first ever UK Color Run (yes, we know, the Yanks still struggle with some parts of the English language) took place at Wembley Stadium, London on Sunday 14 July - one of four events scheduled around the country over summer.
The races are described by organisers as 'the happiest 5k on the planet'. The concept is simple, yet very unusual. Each participant begins the 5k in a clean, white t-shirt and they end the race splattered from head to toe in paint from all the colours of the rainbow. At each kilometre marker, all participants are doused in cornstarch paint powder, creating a kaleidoscope of colour. The events have less emphasis on competitiveness and more on fun, happiness and health.
In January 2012, the Color Run launched with 50 events Stateside attracting 600,000 participants. In 2013 that is set to grow to 100 events in 15 countries including an estimated one million participants.
London-based South African Nicky Affleck was one of an estimated 15,000 to take part in the inaugural UK race. She enjoyed the event and the surrounding buzz it created. "They describe the events as 'the happiest 5k on the planet' and that's what it is," she said. "It is a great party atmosphere. The organisers put on some music afterwards and people were dancing. In terms of the concept, it is not competitive - it wasn't even timed. You can run or walk, it doesn't really matter.
"We were hit with pink, blue, yellow and orange at each of the markers. There are people in Color Run t-shirts throwing all the paint around. But you can dip your hand into the boxes and have a go too. We got talking to lots of other people. It was really friendly. I would recommend it. It's something a bit different."
Sponsored by Dulux (who else?), the other UK Color Runs are set to take place in Manchester on 21 July, Belfast on 25 August and Brighton on 14 September. Entries are available for £25 in advance or £35 on the day.
See www.thecolorrun.co.uk for full details.