Between last week’s Discovery Dash, the annual Ten Miler, the Women’s and Men’s Four Milers, and many others, Charlottesville is hardly in need of another running event. However, need and desire are different beasts—and this is a town that’s addicted to the runner’s high.
To satisfy this craving, there’s a new 5K that aims to give participants something a bit more artistic than your average endorphin rush. On May 25, the organizers of the new Ix Art Park will host the first Rainbow Rush 5K.
What makes this race different from all the others? Well, it’s less of a race and more of an opportunity for community members to come together to walk, jog, or run around the neighborhoods surrounding the Ix property, located near the intersection of Second Street SE and Monticello Avenue. Rather than focusing on the typically competitive nature of running events, the Rainbow Rush is designed to unite people in the common cause of supporting further development of the Ix Art Park and the local arts community.
Oh, and anyone who participates will cross the finish line dripping, not with sweat, but with paint.
Modeled after similar events from around the globe, such as The Color Run, Rainbow Rush offers the unique opportunity to combine art and athleticism. Along the race path, participants will be sprayed, doused, splattered, and eventually covered in paints of every color. But don’t worry: it’s all environmentally- and health-conscious tempera paint. The colors will be bright, and everyone is encouraged to wear white clothing so that the vibrant mix of hues will create unique pieces of wearable art for all to enjoy. “It’s like a rainbow threw up on you,” said Brian Wimer, one of the organizers of the Ix Art Park.
If you’ve ever seen photographs from Holi celebrations around the world, you have an idea of what the Rainbow Rush might look like. A traditional Hindu religious festival that’s become popular as a non-religious celebration as well, Holi is a springtime event also known as the festival of colors. Each year, people fill the streets in celebration with the goal of covering one another in bright hues. Revelers and innocent passersby alike are decorated with powdered dyes and doused with colored water erupting from filled balloons or water pistols. Photographs from international media always provide stunning slideshows of celebrations in India, Nepal, and elsewhere, featuring clouds of colorful dust rising to cover crowds already ornately decorated with paints and powders. Holi festivities take place around the vernal equinox in March and have already come and gone this year. Luckily, the Rainbow Rush 5K offers a local equivalent—and there’s still time to take part.
For would-be runners like myself, the Holi aspects of the Rainbow Rush sound like a great distraction from what might otherwise be a grueling feat. For more experienced runners, perhaps it’s just a way to keep things interesting and distinguish from the next race. Similar to the Danger Zombies 5K Run (also organized by Wimer), the Rainbow Rush 5K brings irreverence and creativity to the racecourse.
In a runner’s world, this type of race is known as a “non-traditional running event.” According to Running USA, these events “have attracted a loyal audience of fitness-
minded people who just want to have fun, enjoy the camaraderie of others and focus more on the social, team-building aspect rather than serious competition. The goal of these non-traditional running events is simple: to create a unique, doable experience beyond just running and crossing the finish line. In fact, about 60 percent of The Color Run entrants have never even run a 5K.”
Whether you’ve never run in a past event or are already registered to participate in a variety of races this year, I challenge you to use this statistic as an inspiration. Whiten your whites, Charlottesville, and lace up that old pair of sneakers resting idly in the laundry room. Quicken your pulse, dye your duds, and support a new arts initiative at the Ix.
The official opening of the Ix Art Park coincides with the Rainbow Rush 5K and there will be bands and a picnic following the race. Everyone is welcome to join the festivities and get a peek at the sculptural and interactive artworks installed on the Ix property. Running shoes and paint-streaked clothes are optional.
The Rainbow Rush 5K begins in front of the graffiti wall at the Ix property at 1pm on May 25, and all proceeds benefit the Ix Art Park. For more details go to rainbowrush5k.com.
Where do you run? Tell us about it in the comments section below.