Before I get into the details of our race this weekend, I’ll first admit my mistakes. I’m pretty good at admitting when I’ve done something wrong. And there was A LOT I did wrong in regards to the Run Or Dye held at the LA Coliseum this weekend.
First, and it’s a doozey, we didn’t pick up our packets pre-race. After a year of running races of all different sizes and shapes, this is a gimme: If they offer pre-race packet pick-up, you do it! Send someone, take the time off to get there. Whatever it is you have to do, DO IT! Pre-race pick-up makes life simpler.
So I admit that I should have picked up our packets the night before. In our defense, we had a feverish child most of the week and the location/time of the pick-up wasn’t conducive to our schedules and commutes. Even so, a cousin went to pick hers up and offered to grab ours, we just didn’t get our IDs copied in time and that, again, is our fault.
My second mistakes is an innocent one of just not knowing how it would affect us but including my son in our race wasn’t such a great idea. We planned to walk/run this 5k so that he could participate and get all colorful like us. In the end, his stubborn side won over and he completely gave up and had to be carried piggy back style over the finish line.
With our own mistakes aside, it must be mentioned that this was a fun run. No chip, no timer, no official start/finish clock either. Just a go, get dirty and finish with a dance party type of race. So we really weren’t all that stressed about being ready with our numbers and whatnot before hand.
So now for the gory details.
We woke up bright and early to clear blue skies, a sight that warmed our hearts. We had feared that it would continue raining as it had the day before and running through colored cornstarch AND rain did NOT sound appealing. It may be warming up to Springtime but the rains are still pretty cold.
On went our white tee-shirts and colorful running wear. It was a fun run and a colorful one at that so I dressed appropriately. Out the door we went a little after 7am for our 9am start time.
I am not a fan of driving into big cities. And we weren’t exactly in a major part of LA but the streets surrounding the LA Coliseum were city enough for me. I was happy to have The Guy driving us and handling our transport out there. Once there, we got lucky and had an easy time with parking.
It wasn’t until we made it to the race site that we realized we were in trouble. It was 7:45am and the race wouldn’t start for another hour or so but the line for packet pick up was extremely long. We decided to do a little walk about to see what the deal was and that’s when we saw that packet pick up was a single booth.
People, it’s a sold out race and a popular one! Why the single booth?! I’ve done much smaller and more organized races that had a row of tables for packet pick-up! Once we realized that the line we saw snaking around the arena was what we needed, we made our way to the end and waited for the rest of our team to join us.
Now they were all smart and got their packets the day before. As they arrived and saw where we were in relation to the booth for our numbers and also peeked at the growing number of people behind me, we all started to realize there was no way we’d get to the front of the line in time for the race. As it was, in 30 minutes, we hadn’t moved.
So we cut out of the line, got into the Dye Zone and colored ourselves in an attempt to blend in.
Soon we heard the loud speaker sound and a voice tell the racers to make their way to the starting shoot across the way. We all looked and were perplexed. Did they really want this massive crowd of dusty people to cross over the line of people waiting for their numbers? And sure enough, that’s what they asked us to do.
Chaos ensued. A throng of people made their way to the start line, cutting into the snaking line of people still waiting for their numbers. As we apologetically cut through the mass, we heard similar voices of concern and dismay. Some people were really irritated. One person said they had been in line for 2 hours waiting just to get their number. Others were lightheartedly joking about the lack of organization and just ready to get their run on.
We made our way to the starting shoot and then waited. And waited. And waited. No announcements were made and we were left to wait with no news as to what was causing the delay. We figured they were holding back for those still in line. But the line wasn’t moving and we were left stranded in a coral of colorful, antsy people. Lots of grumbling could be heard.
And hour later than the scheduled start time and the line began to move. Little by little they let us through in waves. 15 minutes after the initial surge forward, we were at the start line ready to get pelted with an orange cloud of color.
As for the course, that was kinda cool. Running through Exposition Park was all kinds of awesome as we took in the sights. We got hit 4 times with color: orange, yellow, blue and green. While I appreciated the volunteers that were head-to-toe covered in the color they were throwing, I was disappointed that some of the young men (teenagers really) decided to take advantage of the moment and tag women in the breasts, the butt and the groin area with the color. I watched it happen to one in our group and then heard others say the same.
I don’t know if the organizers know this was happening but we didn’t see anyone we could talk to about it. I hate to think these young men were taking advantage of the situation to act upon the distasteful choice of assaulting women.
It was childish and in bad taste, dudes. Knock it off!
As we ran along it felt like there was a large break between color stations and I thought it was odd. In my mind the logical progression would have been a color station every kilometer making 5 stations, 5 colors. In the end it was only four and that was because our course was not quite 5k. We ran only a total of 2.5 miles, short 0.6 miles.
So here is my gripe about that. We were paying runners. We may have run without our numbers and that’s our own fault, but paying for a 5k and not getting a 5k kinda sucks. I’ve paid the same amount for other races and received a full 3.1 miles, a medal AND a timer chip. This race was overpriced for the lack of organization that we ran into.
I mean, come on. The packet pick-up was our own issue that we acknowledged but to cut the race short and still expect the same price as a full 5k?
Not cool, people. Not cool.
And as we crossed the finish line, water was nowhere to be found. There was a dance party and LOTS of upset people walking around but no water. I saw some water bottles but no station or obvious place to get something to drink after finishing. So we headed to the tee-shirt booth that was now a disheveled mess run by a few frazzled teenaged girls to at least take home our race tee-shirts.
I mean we paid for them and we needed something clean to wear home.
Oh and the cherry on top was that if you actually ran and got sweaty, the color stuff stained your skin. Yes…we looked like we got into a gang fight with a box of crayons after some heavy scrubbing. And Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap seemed to be the only stuff that actually took off the color.
Half way through my son decided to give up. Not stop running. No, give up all together and just sit down. Ugh…that was our second mistake. We knew we were going to walk most of this 5k but we didn’t expect him to just plunk down on a park bench and totally give up. And he stubbornly sat there not moving, complaining about mystery aches and pains. In the end The Guy carried him the last 1/2 mile.
Overall this was a tough race to deal with. The good stuff was good: The location, the colors. But the bad was pretty bad: lack of organization, shortened course. In the end I considered this race a bust. The good didn’t outweigh the bad and the bad didn’t eclipse the good. So it was just a moot point.
But getting dirty and running through the clouds of color was a lot of fun. If I did this again I wouldn’t take my son and I’d get that damn packet picked up the day before.
OOOH! And one last piece of advice for anyone running a color event: Don’t make plans after the run! Due to the nature of the colorful shit they tag you with, it will stain a bit if you sweat. Plus depending on the organization of the event, it could take longer than you expected. So just go, have fun, and come home to rest.
We had plans at 2pm that afternoon and while we had enough time to run, come home, change and go, we would have been better off just coming home to get cleaned up and then doing nothing the rest of the day. Instead that appointment was weighing on us and caused more stress than necessary. Again, that part was my fault. I thought we’d have more time.
UPDATE: I decided to take my concerns about the behavior of some of their younger male volunteers to the Run Or Dye organizers and let them know how I and a few others felt about it. I got a very quick response and a promise that it will be brought up and dealt with.
They also offered an explanation as to what happened and how things got so out of control so fast. I appreciated it and they offered to send us our swag bags that we never got to pick up. We never received our swag bag so we don’t know what came with it.
I’m thorough pleased with the way my email was handled and responded to both in what was said and how it was said. I do believe that the team organizing the run just didn’t take certain precautions into consideration and I hope that from here on out this experience will make the future races better.