The Paris Color Run 2014 ‘Race’ Report

I’ve done many types of races and/or endurance events over the years.  From dressing up as Santa to jumping in a frozen creek to  swimming from Alcatraz and many others.  But I’ve yet to do one involving getting painted along the way.  This weekend though, I checked that off the list during the inaugural Paris Color Run.  Here’s the usual detailed race report!

Pre-Race & Packet Pickup:


The packet pickup location was only a few hundred meters away from us at Hotel du Ville (City Hall), and an easy couple minute walk.  So we headed over Friday night about 35 minutes before it was set to close…but they had unfortunately decided they were already closed for the night.  Thus we ended up coming back Saturday mid-day to pickup packets.

As you entered the tents they were giving away little mini-cans of Lipton Tea as well as beach balls:


They also had some swimsuit & lingerie thingy clearly aimed at the gals.


Instead, I focused my resources on more relatable things: HARIBO.  I therefore spent some quality time in this corner of the packet pickup area (it seemed much safer and more manly than the women’s lingerie section).


After that, we wandered further into the tents to pickup our packets and shirts.  Everyone is given the same white t-shirts, which more robustly display the color from the run than a self-provided shirt.


There was also a bag with some other little odds and ends, including more HARIBO candy (awesome) and more other random womanly paper stuff.

With that set, I was done with packet pickup (ok, so I stopped once more at the HARIBO stand to stock up). Quick and easy – no lines.

The Start:

On Sunday after competing in the Paris Sprint Triathlon, I rushed back across town to Notre Dame to drop-off my tri bag and quickly change into my Color Run t-shirt.  A few minutes later I met my companions a hundred meters away from the CupCakery near the start of the race.

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In our group we had (from left to right): E. (CupCakery Employee Extraordinaire), E.S. (CupCakery Employee’s Sister-in-law), The Girl, and me.

The headbands and face tattoo’s were provided by the race.  But the bright colored fishnet arm warmer was provided by one of the girls for me to wear.  I’m not quite clear how I got stuck wearing it, nor the reasoning.  I just do as I’m told, it works out better that way.

From there we walked down the hill to the closed river-side highway for the start of the race.  The Girl was busy getting nutrition in for the upcoming event.  Best always be prepared.

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In case you needed more nutrition, they had some other bar thing available.

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Next, we found our place along with a few thousand other people.  They had an assortment of starting times available during registration, and we selected the latest one possible.


As I noted on Twitter, many Parisians saw no harm in choosing to take a smoke-break before the race. And as I’d see later, during the race too.  And no, this wasn’t just a couple people.  And no, this isn’t terribly uncommon here – even for bigger races (such as the Paris Marathon).


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On a more entertaining note, the organizers had given out a gazillion inflatable balls to throw around.  What was unaccounted for though was the propensity of these balls to end up in the largest river in France.

You can see below the ‘packs’ of balls caught in little eddy’s every 100m or so up the river.  Thankfully, the police boats were constantly rounding them up and throwing them back (to which the crowds rejected them right back at the police).

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Here’s a little snippet of that action:

Eventually about 35 minutes later we made it to the starting corral.  They let about 300-500 people or so at a time into a separate starting corral, and then had waves go off every couple minutes in order to allow a clear course ahead for a short while.

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With that – it was off we ran!

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Oh and for those familiar with Paris, here’s a map of the course.  Essentially we started at Hotel de Ville (near Notre Dame), and continued to the Eiffel Tower via a brief u-turn at the Louvre upon exiting the long tunnel.


Getting a Bit Messy:

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Ostensibly the entire point of the Color Run is to get colorful and do so in a relatively chaotic fashion.  But ultimately there is some order to that chaos.  You don’t just get decorated with all the colors at once.  Rather, you layer them on like a delicate Monet (or, a 2 year old with four-pack of water color paints).

First up about 1.5KM just upon exiting the tunnel with the famous Louvre in the background in was the yellow paint station.  This is…obviously…where they apply jaune to you.  They do so using oversized bottles (sorta like you’d find at a hot dog condiment bar to hold ketchup) that shoot out a powder substance:


The powder is simply cornstarch with a food-dye in it.  So basically the same as most baked goods.  Though, I can attest it doesn’t taste as good as a baked cake.

Here, The Girl, still with her beach-ball.  Why she’s carrying the beach ball is sorta anyones guess.

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With yellow behind us we ran another kilometer to just in front of another famous artistically grounded landmark – Musée d’Orsay.

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It was here that we found the green (vert) station:

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At this point people were realizing that their application of the yellow had fallen off a bit more than they anticipated.  After all, the excess powder that wasn’t pressed in tended to simply end up on the ground.  So, many solved that problem and ensured they were well suited to exit this station with a proper ground-based application:

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The Girl, still with her beach ball, grabbing some to save for later:

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With the green behind us we continued along the Seine on Les Berges, which is the sorta-newly closed road now only for pedestrians/cyclists.  There were however a few Velib’s trying to swim upstream through the crowd occasionally.

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Next, it was time to join the Blue Man Group:

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Or, in E.’s case, a bit of an odd rendition of the Braveheart face look:

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Now, sometimes you just didn’t get enough paint on with the first pass.  So, you go back and do it again:

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And even when you think you’ve got enough, then you collect some and put it in a little baggie for later.  You never know when you might need a bag of blue cornstarch paint powder:

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At this point in the journey, we’d been at it a long time.  I mean, we’re talking like…well..about 3.8KM.  Obviously, such endurance dedication requires a stop at one of the handful of bars along the way.  Which, many people did:

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Instead, we pushed hard.  At least, for about 100m or so, in our favorite 100m dash spot:

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And then we got distracted by the climbing wall:

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Ok…back on track.  It’s time for the next and last stop – red (rouge).  Thankfully, we weren’t grabbing a Velib anytime soon:

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I think when it came to giving the award for the ‘Most complete delivery of paint’ to any of the four color stations, the red team takes the cake.

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So. Much. Red. Paint.

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Now, we had been taking photos after each of the four stations, documenting our color progress.  Here’s the results, from #1 (yellow), to #2 (green), to #3 (blue), to #4 (red).


And here’s The Girl and I:

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And, a short montage video of the action:

From there we still had about 1K to go to the finish.  So we motored on past the Eiffel Tower and across the bridge to the finish area at Trocadéro.

The Finish Area:

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When it comes to potential finish line photos – there’s not too many events that would beat this view.  Though, we went selfie-style for ours!

We joked later that E.’s face painting almost looks like it had been perfectly done by a professional artist. At least compared to ours, which looked a bit more…ragged.

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After the finish line we followed the yellow-red-brick road:

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From there we quickly found ourselves in a giant concert area, with performers whom I’d never heard of (thus apparently defining me as ‘old’).

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Every 20-minutes they had a countdown for an ‘explosion of color’, where folks would throw up packets of more color powder into the air from the crowd.  The Girl took this opportunity to dish out her self-provided Ziploc bag of blue from a few kilometers earlier.

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And then…when the count-down hit zero, it was pretty much madness:


An awesome kind of madness though:


Once the powder settled we headed on home. Making one last stop on the way to the train for a photo in front of some naturally colored blossoming trees.  We matched them:

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Don’t worry, we didn’t scare too many kids or tourists on the train:


While certainly not a competitive event (there is no timing system), it was a blast!  Lots of fun.

For those curious, for all the photos here except the packet pickup ones, I used the Garmin VIRB action camera.  I selected it because I didn’t dare take out my phone to take photos with all the dust, nor any sort of DSLR camera.  I’ve read plenty of stories about what happens there (hint: it’s not good).  But with the VIRB being water submersion-able, I simply was able to run it under the sink afterwards and be just like new again.


And for the watch, I used the Fenix2.  Simply because I had it on from the triathlon in the morning:

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Thanks for reading!


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  1. Kenni Lund

    Hey Ray. Shure looks like a lot of fun. :-)

    It’s this Color-run a yearly returning event? Like every Easter.?

    Thanks for a great blog/site.

  2. Aben

    did you break a PR?

  3. BillM

    Yeah, the french like their smokes. I used to smoke and when cycle touring in France in the eighties I tried out their Gitanes brand, crickey -real strong stuff. Now I thankfully can’t stand the things. I don’t know if the running smokers realise it but the healthier option for them is to not run as their lungs/ alveoli will have opened up a bit more and so the toxins and carcinogens get a better deeper penetration into their lung tissue. Sure they might get fitter in short term as opposed to not running but long term I’d say they are in for a nasty shock.

  4. jolaca

    Ha, ha, ha, poor Fenix2!!! I wouldn’t dare wearing mine in there!! :-))

  5. NimV

    Looks like such a fun race! I’ve always wanted to do one, but I was always afraid that the colors wouldn’t come out of my running shoes and clothes. Just a heads up, the link for the Garmin Virb action camera takes you to the post about the Garmin Vivofit.

  6. Fun! I did Colour Me Rad last year in Toronto, but the Paris setting looks much more interesting. I like that they had it right in the middle of the city.

  7. Monica

    Looks like so much fun! Great pictures!!

  8. Mark J. in Dallas

    You guys are awesome. I love that you and The Girl are always up for having fun and don’t take yourselves too seriously, even though you both clearly work very hard. That’s the point of being there, right? Thanks for sharing.

  9. Maria

    Wow…looks like so much fun!!!

  10. Thomas

    Nice to see a report of this, we visited paris this weekend; and i might even have a picture of you guys; if you were waving your arms before the start and had a number aroung 14000 :)

  11. Fun post and cute selfies. You should be careful the color run doesn’t steal your photo of Eiffel Tower. ;)

  12. frullewulle

    we visited paris too this weekend, saw the results of the run on people getting home with the train in the evening :-)

  13. MYA.

    Looks like so much FUN! Loved the pictures.
    P.s Amazing blog. Good luck and keep it up! :)

  14. Victoria

    New to your site (and running) but love it totally. I did the Run or Dye in the US last year and plan to do it again this year in June with my 11 year old son. Lots of fun like that one but tutus instead of beach balls and this year they added a new color station: purple :)

  15. Joan Alcover

    Funny! Just discovered you and my eldest daughter were in the same race!