|Left to right: Kaley, Tracey, Katelyn, Connor, Rachel, (another) Andrew, and me. Photo courtesy Katelyn|
Last weekend, I went to Incheon, a city way up north, next to Seoul, for an event known as a "color run". It's ostensibly a race. When I told my Korean friends I was doing a 달리기, they invariably replied, "Oh, a 마라톤/marathon?" Well, no, not quite that much. This one was just 5k. So, what made it special?
Answer: the "color" part*. During the race, participants are covered with colored powder -- literally as they are running -- various times, until they finish the race with their clothes, limbs, and faces tinted green, blue, pink, purple, and yellow! You start off with a clean white tee and finish looking like, well, like I do in these photos.
The Incheon race was organized by Color Me Rad, which has taken the event all around the U.S. and Canada, arriving in Asia just this past year. The $35 registration fee got me a t-shirt, a pair of sunglasses (to look cool and to protect my eyes at the same time!), and a chance to have a wild, crazy time with my friends.
|Fellow Fulbrighters and me (yellow sunglasses) before we began! Look at how clean our skin and shirts are. Photo courtesy Katelyn|
|Oh, just rolling around in yellow powder, no big deal.|
By the time we got to the yellow station, we were just looking for ways to get as messy as possible, not gonna lie. We rolled around on the ground to pick up more yellow. I did a colored powder angel. And at the last station, which was green, was chaos. You could just grab a handful of powder and smear it into somebody else's hair. All of us ended up quite green by the time we reached the finish line. And once there, hey! Free Vitamin Water and 물티슈. Thanks, corporate sponsors!
|Fulbrighters at the finish line! Note the prevalence of green. Photo courtesy Katelyn|
|The dance party! I had my phone in a plastic bag to protect it from the powder.|
Every so often, the MCs would toss packets of color powder into the crowd and do a "Color Countdown": on zero, everyone attack each other with colored powder! The end of the race definitely didn't mean the end of the messiness.
Also, someone had managed to get ahold of a fire extinguisher and had filled it with orange powder. When it was fired at the audience, people went crazy. We danced, jumped, screamed, fought for the freebies being thrown from the stage, and got progressively more and more caked with color. It was really overwhelming. I've never done anything quite like this color party, and I'm really, really happy that I did.
|Andrew is caked in colored powder, and he is very happy.|
The rest of the weekend was just as great: seeing Fulbrighters for the first time since the start of this semester (as well as catching up with a high school friend on her vacation!), drawing Pokemon together, devouring the banana bread pudding I baked, finding new great places for Hungry in Hongdae (Around the Corner for organic honey ice cream and Burger B for mouthwatering burgers), and introducing friends to AcousticHolic! It was everything I could ask for in a weekend in Seoul. Good times.
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*I need to note here that the very recent rise in popularity of these color runs has touched off a not insignificant number of people of the Hindu tradition who are unhappy with the apparent "whitewashing" of their famous spring festival, Holi. While proponents of colors runs would argue that getting messy while running a race is innocent fun, the idea of colored powder as a sort of gimmick for a completely secular event -- without putting in a single word about its origin -- might very well be cultural appropriation. And it would be precisely the sort of appropriation that Koreans would have difficulty understanding, there not being the same history of White cultural hegemony in this country as we have in the U.S. Just food for thought.