When it was first suggested (strongly) that I take part in a fun run to see what all the fuss is about, my first thought was that the only thing fun and run have in common is that they rhyme.
However, under serious pressure from my colleagues, I signed up. And what better cause than our local children’s hospice Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice here in Huddersfield?
Fortunately, there were no runner numbers and I was reminded of the time I begrudgingly signed up for a half marathon, late one evening in the pub a few years ago. When my number arrived it had “Under Duress” printed on it instead of “Nigel” which meant no-one could cheer my name as I ran past them along the route!
I had not run for a while but male pride demanded I did the full 5k and not the shorter route. Besides, my waistline was expanding so the chance to burn a few calories was an added incentive. I dug out my running shoes and embarked upon a few training runs and despite some sore muscles to begin with, it actually felt quite good to be back out there.
Fast forward to the day itself and I made sure I was in tip-top form by having an early-ish night and only four pints instead of my usual five on the Friday night before the run.
The forecast was promising and the morning drive over the Pennines from where I live in Sheffield was glorious in the sunshine. The team were coming along to cheer me on/laugh at me, and we had agreed to get there early to soak up some of the atmosphere. When we arrived, the sun was shining and the music was already playing from the stage.
A few families were getting into the spirit early, having bought some bags of brightly coloured powder to throw at each other and the air was full of colour, laughter and shrieks of delight from excited children, of all ages.
Next to the registration tent, they were selling bags of powder and colourful accessories. Feeling quite in the mood now, I bought some powder to throw, along with a pink headband and multi-coloured tutu to be as colourful as possible. The resulting effect was debatable but at least it gave everyone a laugh.
As the start time drew nearer, the crowds swelled. Over one thousand runners plus their friends and families gathered near the stage for the warm up. Not that we needed it really as the sun was now high in the sky and I was sweating already! The enthusiastic aerobics instructor bounced around on the stage with way too much energy and if I went at it with as much gusto as she did, I would have been shattered before the run even started.
As we all moved towards the start line, I surveyed the competition, and realised there wasn’t any, as it was all about having fun!. Parents, even grandparents, and toddlers were going to walk, jog or run the route. Most of them were already brightly clad and covered in powder and there was no sign of a clock or stopwatch anywhere. I was really beginning to experience the fun element of the day now and the run was merely a side show.
The start gun fired, and we set off through a cloud of colour from the fountains being enthusiastically sprayed by the course marshalls. Greenhead Park, already resplendent in the strong May sunshine, was now awash with hoards of colourful people of all ages moving around the course. After not very long, I could see clouds of pink up ahead as we arrived at the first colour station and volunteers gleefully pelted us with bright powder. Cue more shrieks of delight from the younger runners.
Despite the unexpected inclines on the route, I was quite enjoying myself. In what seemed like no time at all, I was back at the first colour station and on lap two of three, but this time already covered in six colours. Before I knew it, the run was over and there was not one patch of white left on my t-shirt. Definitely the most enjoyable 5k I have ever run!
After a well-earned (and needed!) bottle of water, I met up with the gang and we surveyed the scene as happy, colourful faces chatted excitedly about the run and waited for the grand finale, the colour fight. The party music had been playing from the start and there was now a good crowd of people dancing in front of the stage. The countdown began, more colour fountains went off and it was now time for the runners to throw powder at each other.
What a great way to spend a Saturday and the best bit is the event had raised well over £30,000 when I last checked. This really did put the fun into fundraising and I would recommend it to anyone thinking of organising one or just taking part. I might have started out contemplating the run through the left lens of my glasses but by the end I was definitely viewing things through the right one!
Nigel Halliday, Managing Director, Ministry of Colours