Somebody blue my eye.
  • Somebody blue my eye.
I was one of very few people who ran in The Color Run on Saturday morning. Well, 15,000 people entered, but 14,930 of them walked the entire time. And not like power walking, where you move slowly but pump your arms a lot and you have a funny iPod holder wrapped around your bicep and you're pushing a $5k stroller and you're with your five walking friends who do a lap around the Pearl every Tuesday. Actually, there was lots of that too, but almost everybody just moseyed like they'd signed up for the 5k For People Who Have No Place In Particular To Be.

I get that running sucks, but you're the one who paid $50 for an event in which "run" was ⅓ of the title. People were clearly there for the middle ⅓, the "color" part. Volunteers pelted the runners participants with colorful chalk dust every kilometer or so. Does it have anything to do with running? Nope. But the pictures look great on Facebook.

Portlanders love an excuse to dress like idiots and jog around for a couple miles. There's Run Like Hell, the Zombie Walk, the Chicken Suit 10k, Biscuits to Brick Houses, the Warrior Dash, the Ninja Hike, the Run of Shame, and the Pimp Walk. And those are just the events I could name or make up off the top of my head.

This one was the biggest, though, with over 15,000 people paying $50+ for the privilege of getting a new profile photo. That's nearly a million dollars the organizers brought in before merch, food, and sponsorships. Minus a couple hundred dollars for chalk dust and no dollars for the volunteers doing all the hard work and you've got a very profitable couple of hours.

Sure some of the money went to charity, but nobody I asked in the run had any idea what the cause was. The runners piggy banks were 90% female. Perhaps they were raising money for the mostly-male color blind population.

Organizing such an event does take a lot of work, I'm sure. They rented the horror-movie-esque Portland International Raceway. They hired a DJ that only had three songs (I heard One Direction at every color station). And they arranged to have a couple ambulances on scene in case somebody tore an ACL while standing still on the track and texting.

My favorite thing I saw all day was a volunteer at the water station holding a trash bag and looking sullen while thousands of empty cups piled up at her feet. These people couldn't run or make a basket to save their lives.

A million dollars. Going up in colored smoke.
  • A million dollars. Going up in colored smoke.

So why did I spend so much money for something I was just going to complain about? Was I dying to get a shirt that could be used in the "before" picture in a laundry detergent commercial? Did I feel peer pressure from my non-Portland friends on Facebook who already had photos of them not sweating in ruined t-shirts? Was I (gasp!) actually hoping to get some exercise?

Nope. I went for the same reason the other guys there went: my girlfriend wanted to go.