The Color Run vs. Color Vibe

It’s time for the results of our good-natured color throwdown!

Remember back in the spring when we told you I would run several color-themed 5k races in western New York this summer? Ah yes, we’re going back a few months.

The Color Run and Color Vibe both graciously offered me entries to run each event. Although the color was theirs, all opinions are my own.

I enjoyed both events, but let me say its rather tricky to compare two colorful 5k races that I ran in different cities and in different weather conditions.

You may recall that when I ran the Color Vibe back in April, the sky opened up on the runners. It hailed, it snowed and it was darn windy. As a result, few stuck around for the after party. (Was there one? I don’t actually know.)

after4yes, that’s snow (Color Vibe)

Last weekend, I headed to Buffalo, NY with my friend and colleague Tina for The Color Run and Tina’s first-ever 5k.

I blogged specifically about Saturday’s race on my work blog. (Click HERE to read)

tina blueThe blue color zone along Lake Erie (The Color Run)

So let’s try a comparison breakdown of the two races:


Both events touted thousands of runners (8,000 or so for the Color Vibe and 10,000 for The Color Run, according to race organizers.) Both figures seemed a bit inflated, but I’d certainly agree that thousands of people took part in each event. Let’s just say both races were crowded, but it was never overwhelming. Race organizers knew how to move the crowd.

At the Color Vibe, the first group of runners didn’t begin until about 10-15 minutes after the appointed race start time, which on a normal day wasn’t a big deal. But the temps had dropped to the 30s and the skies were dark, Plus there was confusion about the start time, so we actually waited about 45 minutes for the race to begin.

colorfunLindsay, Deb and Charlotte running through campus (Color Vibe)

In comparison, The Color Run started at its appointed start time, though it took Tina and me an extra 20 or so minutes to reach the start area after the the first runners set off. (We actually watched the first folks finish!)

waldoA sea of white shirts. Can you spot me? (The Color Run)

Round 1 goes to The Color Run

Color Zones: At both races, we ran through four color zones.

Color Vibe participants were doused with color packets right out of the gate. I loved that idea – get runners with a burst of color right from the start! Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready for it, so I basically missed the first of four color zones. (My fault, not theirs.)

pinkThink pink! (The Color Run)

The Color Run seemed to have more volunteers throwing powered color on participants, so it was hard for anyone to get past a zone without a hint of color.

That said, in any color race, ASK the throwers to hit you with color if you want to be covered. They will oblige.

If you want minimal color, try to zip past and dodge the throwers. Stay in the middle, where other runners act as a color buffer.

Round 2 is a draw

The course: Obviously this will vary greatly from race to race. My suggestion for all future color event participants is to pay attention to the 3.1-mile course you will be running.

The Color Vibe was entirely housed on the campus of a local community college. It’s a smart move because its self-contained and doesn’t require race organizers to close roads and divert traffic. That said, the route includes a large amount of parking lots… which also means less event parking.

The Color Run’s route was a refreshing surprise to me. You guessed it, I didn’t check out the course before the event because I knew I’d be walking much of it. The 5k course started in Buffalo’s Canalside Park, next to the First Niagara Center and followed some downtown roads and lakeside roads, into a marina along Lake Erie and back.

colorrun2Along Lake Erie (The Color Run)

Because of its location, The Color Run route seemed far more picturesque.

Round 3 winner: The Color Run

Race swag: Entry to the two races are pretty much the same. $45 for the Color Vibe and $50 for The Color Run.

With the Color Vibe entry, I received a race shirt (which I wore for the run), one color packet, sunglasses and Boston bracelets, a thoughtful gesture by race organizers as we ran several days after the Boston Marathon bombings.

The Color Run entry included a race shirt (again, I wore it), a race headband, a color packet and some stickers.

Both events sold a number of other products. The Color Run organizers repeatedly threw swag such as race socks and bags into the crowd.

Round 4 winner: Color Vibe

After party: Both events hosted pre-race and post-race parties, which included music, dancing and a celebratory atmosphere.

Because of the wintry weather at the Color Vibe, most participants ran for their cars and shelter after finishing the course. Few people stuck around to sing and dance in the snow and hail. (Gee? Why?) and most volunteers apparently abandoned their post-race posts. I heard there was a photo booth, but never found it. I spotted bottles of water in a pile, though no one was handing them out.

I never saw a big-post race color throw take place by the stage. Instead, participants doused each other with packets of color at or near the finish line. We still had fun, but couldn’t help but wonder if I’d missed something.

after2Our own color throw (Color Vibe)

The Color Run’s after-party was a huge event. The weather was perfect, thousands of people danced to the music and we watched three separate color tosses take place in the 30 minutes after we finished our race.

20130820-143026.jpgA color throw at the Buffalo after-party (The Color Run)

Volunteers passed out Kind bars and offered a water bottle for thirsty runners.

Round 5 winner: The Color Run

colorizedI’m an oompaloompa (The Color Run)

Both events were a blast, though different. All of my running partners were a joy! And I love how color events are untimed races, geared toward beginners. The events aren’t about winning, but the joy of running.

But overall, the top winner was THE COLOR RUN. Congrats to the Happiest 5K on the Planet!

What Color event is your top choice? What stood out to you to make that event better than its competitors? Tell us in the comments!

8 thoughts on “The Color Run vs. Color Vibe

    • Meri has done the color me rad series. I think Bec has too. All of the colorful runs have much in common- they are a load of fun! The non-competitive, party atmosphere just allow participants to enjoy the event, rather then rush through it. It’s a blast! Hope you have a great time!

  1. Cool, They both sound like Color Me Rad, which was the race I participated in this summer. The swag for Rad was a t-shirt (blue so it didn’t work out for the color run but is the most comfortable t-shirt I have ever received at a race), my choice of colored sunglasses, I picked purple of course, temporary tattoos and a color bomb. The after party race was a real party and there were also 4 color stations to run through with extra ones at the beginning and the end – so 6 in total. That being said, I am pretty sure this is a one and done kind of race for me. Cool experience but do not need to repeat it 🙂

    • It sounded like you had a good time- and bonus points for a comfy race tee that you love to wear!! I completely hear you on the once and done aspect. A lot of my friends felt at way after the color vibe race too.

  2. I also ran Color Me Rad and loved it! Once of the color zones ran out of color, and I didn’t care – I just rolled around in the piles of color on the ground until I was covered in orange! I’m really glad I did it, but I probably wouldn’t do another color run again. It was expensive and I definitely had a hard time keeping my car clean after the race since I was covered in color!

    PS I just started following your blog and I love it!

    • Oh I wish I could’ve seen you roll around on the color coated pavement. Bummer that they ran out of color, but you truly made the best of it!

      The down side of these races is the price, but they are very fun events. I think they’d be a great birthday party celebration or bachelorette, ya know?

      And THANK YOU!!

  3. I have wanted my daughter to start running in a non competitive environment and she thrived at the color vibe. I was sad someone wrote a mean write up on it. We had a wonderful scenic and somewhat hilly (for beginners) route. I helped my child train for it because so many times in the past she had been looked down on and ignored because she wasn’t the fastest. I was thrilled that she and I ran together for the first time in a 5K, which included hills and was partnered with a friendly locally run United Way. Yeah for Color Vibe!!

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