I think I’ve come to the conclusion that night racing is not for me. It’s hard to get myself going and it’s even harder to keep up my stamina.
However, a glowing, nighttime fun run?
I’m always up for something new.
The Neon Vibe 5K came to Metropolitan Park in Jacksonville on Saturday night, and I thought it looked like fun. What was even more enticing was the fact that the partner charities were Children’s Miracle Network (through friends)and Wolfson Children’s Hospital (where little man spent his first 10 days of life). I was thrilled to have the chance to support both these organizations, combined with a running event, so I registered and got ready to glow.
Packet pickup took place at a Fairfield Inn the day before the event. I headed over and picked up my bag, which included a bib, very plain Neon Vibe T-shirt, tattoo, and a bag of powdered glow color. We were supposed to bring that to the race, presumably to toss during the race or at the after party, where the coolest color splattering occurs when everyone flings plumes of color in the air as a group.
There was also the opportunity to purchase Neon Vibe merchandise. They had some neat things, but I was more interested in glow necklaces and accessories than actual t-shirts or tanks, so I passed.
Due to my injury, I wasn’t planning to really run. However, I did want to be festive, so I got myself geared up with a white t-shirt (one that I could live with being ruined), white shutter glasses, capris with a neon stripe, old sneakers and some glow necklaces. I wish I had made time to get some more in a variety of colors, but… next time.
I picked up my friend, E, at 5:45 on Saturday evening to head over. The run was supposed to start at 7:00PM, but she still had to get her packet (she registered that day to keep me company) and we thought we would have enough time to park, because the website said they actually wouldn’t start until the sun went down completely. Obviously, glow-in-the-dark runs are better in the dark.
When we arrived at Metropolitan Park, we were stunned by how crowded it was already. We managed to find (make, actually) a parking spot across the street in the Everbank Field lot, but it took a while to maneuver. We got ourselves together and then hiked over to registration and the start line.
The place was packed. Participants were already covered in glowing, colored powder, and I admit, I felt a little underdressed. I admit to not spending tons of time on my outfit, but now I have a bar set for next time. On the plus side, I loved seeing the creative costumes and tutus. It made for great people-watching.
After E got her bib, we found the restrooms and then navigated our way to the start line. We were lined up under an overpass, which was kind of neat.
Music was pumping from the stage set up in the park and there was an air of excitement. My experience with color runs is that they release small groups at a time so as not to clog the course or subsequent color stations. It’s annoying at the start line, but I get the rationale. True to form, this was no different, and we didn’t get up to the starting corral until about 7:50 or so.
There, under the black lights, we counted down, and got nailed with a huge color dump from volunteers on all sides. Then we were all released to the course and off we went into the dark streets.
After the initial rush, everyone kind of settled down, and E and I just kept up a nice, brisk walk. It was great to get my legs moving (and she was recovering from an eight mile run that morning), and I was glad for the company and conversation.
If I recall correctly, there were four or five color stations set up along the way, each one is a different hue. Participants had the option to walk right up to the volunteers and black lights, get doused and continue on, or skirt the area completely, as each station only took up one side of the street. We took our chances and got doused.
However, the second station was my favorite. This one was set up for Children’s Miracle Network, and on hand to help were little Jack & Luke. These sweet guys are the 2013 Champions for Florida, and have been ambassadors for this amazing cause for the year. I have had the pleasure of knowing them (and their wonderful family) for two years, and can say that they are really sweet and amazing kids, and have come so far and overcome so much since their days in the NICU. It was a privilege to be there supporting them.
They were also extremely enthusiastic about covering me with as much colored powder as they could!
We stayed long enough for hugs and then moved out of the way to let other people have their turn.
The course wound around Everbank Field and the surrounding streets. It would have been nice to have more music along the way, to keep the party vibe going, but the volunteers at the color stations and water stop were fun and enthusiastic and time passed pretty quickly.
And then we were back at the finish line. A stage was set up in the far end of the park, with music and dancing, and people could purchase food and drink at the three or four food trucks situated across the way. We were going to hang out a little, but volunteers were shooting a lot of what seemed to be liquid color (I had just unwrapped the cellophane from my phone to try to get some last-minute pictures) and it was getting late. I had to be up at 5:45 for another 5K and E had had long day.
Back at the car, we cleaned up with baby wipes, lined the seats with towels, changed into clean shirts and found our way back to the interstate.
Neon Vibe put on a good event. Just a few thoughts:
- There could have been a few more items included for the price of registration – glow in the dark glasses, glow bracelets, etc. These fun runs aren’t inexpensive, even with occasional discount codes or living social type deals, and I felt there could be some improvements in this area.
- It also would have been nice to see some photographers on the course and at the finish line. It’s pretty challenging to get quality nighttime pics, especially with a baggie-protected cell phone, and the opportunities for gorgeous photos were limitless. There were black lights at the finish line, but not beyond, which created a bottleneck of people trying to get their end result pics. A few well placed cameras could have alleviated that, as well as maybe some black lit backdrops for some fun photos, as I’ve seen done at other color runs.
That being said, it was a fun night in support of a wonderful cause. If it comes back to the area, I’m likely to do it again, although I’ll be better prepared with a more fun outfit and lots more glow sticks!
Have you done the Neon Vibe (or similar night time color run)?
How do you feel about night time running?