I was hired to photograph the 2013 Color Vibe Akron 5k took place on April 27th at the Summit County Fairgrounds. From looking at the photos, you can tell this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill 5k run. Participants of the Color Vibe 5k are guaranteed an event unlike any run they’ve probably ever taken part in. With over 8,000 runners showing up the morning of the run, the fairgrounds were full and lively well before the run got under way.
Being April in northeastern Ohio, the weather is always a gamble with an outdoor event, but nature was kind to us and we had the most outstanding conditions imaginable. In the morning it was bright and clear and about 45 degrees, but the sun quickly warmed things up and everybody was in t-shirts before the first wave of runners hit the course. Every participant is given a white event t-shirt and a pair of Color Vibe sunglasses. These aren’t simply to look cool, but the white shirt gives the perfect canvas for the brilliant colors, that are the event’s namesake, to be painted on. The sunglasses look fun, but also protect the wearer from getting a blast of color in the eyes. The colored power itself is nothing more than cornstarch with a biodegradable pigment which is made in the USA and is safe for the participants and the environment (and hopefully for camera gear).
At the staging area, runners are given bags containing the colored powder and they began dousing themselves and others with bright, fun designs, or simply tossing it in the air and letting the cloud waft color onto everybody surrounding them. Upbeat music is pumped out by a DJ the entire day and keeps the entire event feeling like a giant neon-colored party. Runners were let off in waves of 1,000 at a time and start at an easy jog. They proceed though multiple “color stations” where event volunteers are waiting with truckloads of different colored powder to be squirted, lobbed, tossed and wafted onto the passing event participants. Runners can decide to go directly through the thick of the color station and get the full dousing of powder, or if they’ve had enough color for the time being, they can go to the outside and skip that particular color station.
At the end of the 5k, plenty of water was available for the runners and the DJ really ramped up the party atmosphere. Free prizes were thrown into the crowd and participants could join in the dancing and partying or decide to sit under the shade of a nearby tree and relax their painted and (possibly) tired bodies.
Throughout the entire Color Vibe 5k, the event organizers were easy to spot for runners with questions and all the corresponding stations were well marked with large flags. The party atmosphere was never tense and everybody was enjoying their time at this one-of-a-kind event. For next year’s 2014 Color Vibe 5k, the event will be moved to a larger venue to accommodate an even larger number of participants.
More information about upcoming Color Vibe runs can be found at http://www.TheColorVibe.com.