September 29, 2020

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BY HAILEY MERKT

 With a slight scent of worms lingering in the early morning air, a gentle mist and thick sheet of fog, the morning got off to a gloomy start. The sky was grey, the streets were grey and even my nails were painted grey.
As I arrived at Kitchener City Hall, I realized a few things. First, that looking cool meant looking cold, which isn’t actually that cool. The sharp wind pierced through my Lululemon leggings and retro tank, making me feel as though I wasn’t wearing any clothes at all. Second, that I should stay at the back of the pack so less people pass me, making me feel slightly more fit than I truly am. And third, that no matter the weather, I was going to have as much fun as possible.
Minutes before the race’s start, hundreds of Color Me Rad runners herded together on King Street East for a last-minute stretch. Volunteer Zumba instructors stood on a stage near the doors of city hall, trying their best to pump up the crowd. A mix of reggae and ’80s classics blared from the speaker facing the street. As I looked around, my excitement grew. There were hundreds of colourful characters (pun intended) around me.
Then a roaring backwards count from 10 got the race off to a quick start. A sea of white shirts rushed through the street, which would soon be ruined.
As I began to jog, the music faded behind me and the fog thickened in front of me. I quickly approached the first kilometre marker, which appeared to be an orange, ominous cloud with no end. I took a deep breath in, and entered it at full velocity. In the cloud were several colour bomb volunteers tossing the chalky powder into the air. They all had bandanas tightly fastened around their faces to comfortably breathe. I wish I had thought of that.
I came out of the cloud doused in a tangerine powder, already declining in speed. The last 4 km of the run consisted of a lot of speed walking, but I felt this was justified because I was a journalist so I had to walk slow enough to take clear pictures. Or at least I used this as my guilt-free excuse.
Once across the finish line at Victoria Park, everyone was celebrating their finish through song, dance and photo-ops. A stage built near the clock tower boomed with music and colour cannons. An announcer came on stage with a fire extinguisher in hand and asked everyone if they were feeling rad. I think everyone replied yes. This exchange bounced back and forth between the announcer and crowd a few more times before she doused the crowd with a vibrant green fume.
Color Me Rad is loosely based off of the Hindu Festival of Colours known as Holi. It has been attracting colour cravers all across Canada and the U.S. since January 2012. Color Me Rad has sold out nearly every race and is even gaining popularity overseas. The race is coming soon to Asia and the U.K. According to their website, colormerad.com, the race has “no winners or official times.” It’s for pure enjoyment.
A portion of the proceeds raised always go to a charity in the community of the run. The Kitchener event’s proceeds went to Triton Sports, a full service sport and event management company in Kitchener, which uses the money to assist youth who can’t afford equipment and supplies to join sports teams.