Today I ran the color run. If you haven’t heard about this 5k that’s sweeping the nation as “The Happiest 5k on the Planet,” then let me catch you up. This is a 5k that is not timed and is a “unique paint race that celebrates healthiness, happiness, individuality, and giving back.” THOUSANDS of people sign up for this race (600,000 in 2012 and over a million already in 2013!), decked out in colorful tutus, wigs, socks and clothes, most of which starts out white and ends up covered in a nice variety of purple, green, blue, and orange.
While I was running with a friend of mine, we decided to take a walking break and have a little conversation. I asked her why she thought so many people get so into a race where people throw colored cornstarch at you that gets EVERYWHERE – hair, face, eyes, and mouth included. We concluded it is rather bizarre. You either get it or you don’t but I’ll tell you one thing, this race is open to anyone and everyone. We saw young children, older couples, bridal parties, teams running in memory of someone special, people in wheelchairs, on knee scooters, and walkers!! There is no pressure to finish within a certain amount of time so people just cruise along at their own pace, enjoying the company of a friend or someone they just met.
What is it about that colored cornstarch though?! I get so excited when I see the colored arches approaching, knowing I will soon have colored cornstarch tossed towards me and I WANT to be COVERED in the color. I’m always slightly disappointed when my friend comes out of the color chute with color all over her face and I barely have any. Thankfully, someone in the blue station noticed and colored me happy!
I think the environment just makes everyone so happy. The idea that it is the happiest 5K just puts everyone in such a great mood. A study from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Diego suggest that happiness spreads, sort of like a virus. This means that someone’s happiness could influence the happiness of someone they’ve never even met. A co-author of the study, James H. Fowler PhD, states, “we have known for a long time that there is a direct relationship between one person’s happiness and another’s, but this study shows that indirect relationships also affect happiness. We found a statistical relationship not just between your happiness and your friends’ happiness, but between your happiness and your friends’ friends’ friends; happiness” (read article here).
So if you are looking for a quick boost of happiness, maybe look for the nearest themed 5k. Not only will you feel more confident from the accomplishment of finishing a 5k, but your mood will be boosted by all the people around you that are excited to do something kind of silly with a whole bunch of people they don’t know. Besides, you could look colorful like this.