The Neon Run: Race Recap

A week ago I ran the Neon Run in Sunderland with some friends. The Neon Run is in a similar category to the Color Run – I’m pretty sure it’s a for-profit 5k event that is based around a theme or gimmick. In this case, it was running in the dark with neon lights.


I am not against events like this at all. Some people I’ve spoken with take issue with the fact that they’re for-profit, but I think they’re really fun. And here’s why:

  1. They are a really great way to spend time with your friends that’s not in a pub or a restaurant, but out doing something active
  2. There are many people there who I would say don’t exercise on a regular basis, so this would be a new experience at an event that’s completely non-threatening
  3. These events are not about how fast you run, or how far you run, but how much fun you have on the route. That counts for a lot, but is often forgotten.
  4. There’s not many opportunities for grown adults to run around a playground that’s designed purely for their fun and enjoyment


The Neon Run started at 6.45pm when the sun had well and truly gone down. It was a particularly windy evening, and the race took place in some kind of park (not being the driver, I actually don’t know where it was held!). We were pretty bloody cold as we waited, and so took the advice of the guy on the speaker: we got ourselves a pint before we started. Now, this is my kind of event.

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The Neon Run gives you a flashing wrist band to wear throughout the run, and as the sun went down and the DJ played some tunes, people started dancing. I’m guessing it was as much to keep warm as it was because they were caught up in the moment, but it was awesome to see all the flashing lights shine in the darkness.

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That’s what I loved about the Neon Run. Once we set off, we soon left the noise of the race village, and we were running in the dark. Even though there were lots of people there, the atmosphere was calm and quiet, kind of like when it snows. As we ran down the path, all we could see were flashing blue and green lights from the wrist bands, like a trail of glow worms lighting the way.


There were two music stands along the way – they had intended four, but the wind prevented this. This broke the quiet, and suddenly everyone was dancing again. I learned that running on a path that’s lit up with a rotating disco ball will make you feel car sick, so that’s an important life lesson if ever there’s one.


We ran the route twice, making 5k in total, and as we finished, we were met by some Neon Warriors. These guys seemed to have a little more dignity than their equivalent at the Color Run, who were covered in coloured feathers and face paint. These guys could kick your ass and no mistake. But they also kindly posed for photos and cheered us as we finished.



I had a really good time at this event! It was expensive, and thanks to the cold, we left pretty much straight after we finished and didn’t make the most of the after-party. But the whole thing had an atmosphere of excitement, and I loved running in the dark. Plus, my friends and I just love any excuse to dress up and paint our faces. That’s what we’re about :)

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Ellie B

Sunderland Color Run Recap

On Sunday a group of 5 friends and I did the Sunderland Colour Run. Or Color Run if we’re being true to it’s actual name.


The Color Run is the self-proclaimed ‘happiest 5k on the planet’, and I am naturally sceptical of such hype. I didn’t admit to liking Harry Potter until 2007, and I don’t understand the fuss about Johnny Depp. What can I say, I’m a killjoy. Anyway, I signed up for this happiest 5k on the planet because my buddies were doing it, and if there’s something I fear more than The Hype, it’s fear of missing out, or #FOMO as it’s known in the cool circles (hashtags are a hype I have fully embraced though). And I wanted to see all the pretty colours.


On Sunday morning, I cycled to the dance studio where I met my friends and got a lift to Sunderland. Our race packs with cool t-shirts and sweat bands to wear, and it was fun to see everyone in the same gear. I’ve not seen that since Run to the Beat.

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The vibe at the starting village was excited and expectant – but not nervous or worried like some starting lines can feel. There was a stage with music blasting and warm ups going on, and Official Color Run People were putting facepaint and temporary tattoos on runners, and handing out flags. You could also have your photo taken with the real Dulux dog. I kid you not. Dulux sponsored the event, and they must have pulled some strings, because there he was sat in his own tent like the Shah of the Color Run (the queue was too big for us to get a pic though).


Before the day arrived, I had a pretty serious talk with myself that went something like this: ‘Now Ellie. Don’t worry if you don’t run. It’s not a run, it’s a fun run. It’s not even timed. You will not be running. You will not be running so don’t stress out’. 


The point of this event is not to get a good time, and not even really to run. The point of this event is to simply have fun. There were lots of tutus, fairy wings, and families with young kids. The route took us by the Stadium of Light in Sunderland and around the neighbouring industrial estate, and at each approximate kilometre point, there’s music blasting and you enter the colour zone: for the next 100m, people would throw coloured powder paint at you, on you, in your hair, in your face. The floor was covered in powder paint. People were lying down making paint angels on the floor. People were having paint fights, and rolling around in it. It was just plain, good old-fashioned fun.

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I’d say we ran half and walked half of the 5k route. My friends kept asking me how I was coping, and I’m proud to say that I coped pretty well! Turns out all it needs for me to curb my competitive edge is some pretty colours. Although…. I did get in a sneaky sprint finish…


At the end, they held a colour rave. By this point, everyone is already covered in paint, but they give you additional packets so that everywhere you go, you’re still getting covered. And when the beat drops in the music, everyone would shake their powder paint, and huge clouds of purple, yellow and blue would float above everyone. I’ve never seen anything like it! It was some kind of colourful Woodstock with beats.

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The Color Run has previously come under suspicion internationally for being a for-profit organisation. I don’t think it’s bad that it’s run for profit, but their website does say it’s about ‘giving back to the community’. It turns out that each event is sponsored by a different charity: the UK charity partner for 2014 is Save the Children. Everywhere you looked you were encouraged to text to donate £3 to the cause. It would have been nice to know if some of our entry fee had gone towards the charity so they don’t need to rely on goodwill on the day – but the website doesn’t say, nor give info on how our local community benefitted. Although, I do think that an event encouraging people to have fun together as friends and families, and encouraging people to run/walk 5k in a non-competitive environment could be thought of as good community work…

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And so was it the happiest 5k on the planet? Did this mugwump who likes running and racing and being clean enjoy it? YES! It was so much fun to paint at each other, and not worrying about racing times. About half way through I couldn’t help but shout ‘I am so happy! This IS the happiest 5k on the planet!’ and do some fist pumps. In my head it was a perfect movie moment, but I probably looked like the person who only just understood what the whole thing is about, 2k from the end.

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After the run, we went home. I ate some Nutella straight from the jar, and then went to my friend’s house for a BBQ where we feasted on lamb, chicken, pork and prosecco. It was the perfect Sunday – the happiest Sunday on the planet. :)


Ellie B