Jeri Villareal: The Hijabi Iron Woman

Jeri Villareal is a modest and committed triathlete from St. Louis, Missouri. Working in the Information Technology Service Lead, this incredible 41 year-old mother is also an urban farmer. Her races usually include three continuous and sequential endurance disciplines which are swimming, cycling and running or better known as triathlon.

Nashata team regularly received Jeri’s pictures on Instagram account, @nashatadotcom wearing Hooda Sports Hijab while competing in her triathlon events. After following her account @modestlytri.ing for some time we knew that she is one of the amazing sportswomen that could inspire people to live with passion. Let’s follow our interview to learn more about Jeri’s incredible journey.

N: Nashata
J: Jeri

“I hadn’t ridden a bike in over 20 years.”

N: Do you remember your first triathlon? Tell us how you became a triathlete.
J: My very first triathlon was a small local race. It consisted of a 300 yard pool swim, 20 mile bike and 4 mile run. My swim was somewhat slow but steady but I got on my bike and was able to pass a couple of people. Unfortunately, I missed the turn off and ended riding an additional 4 miles. I was so upset but ended up continuing on to the run and finish last. I learned to always review the course before the race. There is nothing worse than getting lost during a competition.

N: What inspires you to become a triathlete?
J: I first started running. Running was something that I never thought I would be any good at. However, I used it as a way to ward off depression that developed for me in the short days of the winter months. Running outside made me happy and in the cool months, my hijab was comfortable. It was a great fit. I found that the more I ran, the better I became and I progressed from running in my neighbourhood, to running a 5K then 10K and half marathons. One day a friend of my family asked me if I had ever considered triathlon. I told her I hadn’t ridden a bike in over 20 years. However she told me that if she could compete at age 60, surely I could compete. I took up the challenge and learned to ride a bike and worked on my swim stroke. 7 months later, I competed in my first triathlon.

N: Where do you usually train?
J: I train at my local gym and also I created a workout room in my basement so there is no excuse for missing my training. I have a treadmill, a bike trainer, rowing machine, resistance bands and weights.

N: Did you have a coach when you first participate in your first triathlon event?
J: At the time of my first event. I did not have a coach. However, I did get a coach soon afterwards.

N: How different is it to train by yourself and with a coach for the event?
J: It is so helpful to train with a coach because they can see the small things that you do that could cause injury or they can make changes to your form so that you are more effective. Also they can give you specific exercises or workout to help improve your particular limitation to help your reach your personal goals quickly.

N: Which is the hardest part of triathlon?
J: For me, it’s open water swim. Especially in a lake. It make me a bit anxious when all I see is darkness in the water. I learned to overcome that fear by swimming in the pool with my eyes closed and only open my eyes when taking a breath. That exercise helps me relax once I get into the murky waters of a lake.

N: How do you tackled getting out of a wetsuit quickly? Is it an issue for a hijabis triathlete?
J: While many triathlons have “wetsuit strippers”, kind volunteers that will assist you in getting out of your wetsuit quickly. I avoid their help with the wetsuit. Their good intentions could result in uncovering more than of your body than you would want. I use a two-piece wetsuit consisting of pants with bibs and then a wetsuit top that goes over that. When I was exiting the water, I can unzip and remove the top without concern of revealing anything and I take the bib straps off of my shoulders. By the time I get to transition, I just have to roll down the pants and slip them over my feet. To me, the two-piece wetsuit is not only easy to get in and out of, it also is less constricting over your chest which can be helpful for those that feel chest constriction with traditional wetsuits.

“The hijab that has truly given me so much freedom in my life.”

N: As a Muslim triathlete who wears a hijab, have you ever experienced bitter moments where people would be prejudice about your religion? Do share your story with us.
J: The triathlon community is a very kind one in general. However I think a very well-meaning woman made a comment that she has seen me at several triathlons and she always “felt sorry for me” because I seems so uncomfortable. I didn’t even know how to respond. The last thing I expected was anyone to pity me for the chose that I made as a Muslim woman to wear hijab. The hijab that has truly given me so much freedom in my life. The comment sat with me for a long time and it really did affect me. I feel sorry for her that she didn’t understand the beauty of hijab.

“A quick conversation upfront can keep you from having a frustrating conversation with race officials on race day.”

N: What is your advice to the other Muslim women who are participating in triathlon event?
J: Speak to the race director to ensure that they are aware that will be competing fully covered. There are sometimes rules about how much of your body you can cover. A quick conversation upfront can keep you from having a frustrating conversation with race officials on race day. You do not need to ask “permission” to practice your religion. This conversation is simply to educate those that may not understand why they can’t write your race number on your leg or your arm. Or why you must cover your legs and arms during the swim when wetsuits are not allowed.

N: When is your upcoming event?
A: I just finished Ironman Cartagena 70.3 on December 3rd. That was my last event of the year. In 2018, I look forward to the local St. Louis Triathlon Olympic distance occurring in May. Later in the summer there is Ironman Steelhead 70.3 and Ironman Brazil 70.3

N: How is your diet like today? Was it different with what you usually have before being a triathlete?
J: Today I follow a fairly paleo diet. I enjoy eating lots of vegetables, some low-sugar fruits, meats and healthy fats but only consume ancient and sprouted grains sparingly me. Sweets are my weakness and I avoid sugar while training for a race. I usually tighten my diet 8 weeks from race day. Before becoming a triathlete I ate so much sugar. It was in everything and I didn’t even realize it. I was always a lover of green leafy vegetables though.

N: Describe the training process for a triathlon. How did you prepare–both mentally and physically?
J: Training for a triathlon means training for 3 sports. Additionally, as an athlete over 40 years old, it is vital to incorporate recovery into my schedule. I have 2-3 weekly swim workouts, 2-3 run workouts and 2-3 bike workouts. One of the workout will be either a speed or strength building workout like hill training or interval speed work. Also one of the workout will be endurance-based like a long run (5+ miles), a long bike (20+ miles) or a straight swim (2,000+ yards). I also do yoga twice per week for recovery and weight training twice per week.
During a heavy training load, 10 hours or more a week, I tend to get deep tissue massages. I also have tried alternative recovery techniques to combat inflammation such as cryotherapy and relaxing in an infrared sauna.

“I wear my Nashata Hooda Sports hijab while biking and running. It is thin and lightweight while keeping me dry.”

N: What do you wear for your triathlon event? Do you prepare specific sports gear for each of the activities?
J: I wear what is called a triathlon kit, which is a one-piece outfit with short-sleeves and shorts. The bottom of this kit includes a thin, waterproof pad for additional comfort on the bike. Under the kit, I have leg coolers and Nashata arm coolers. Each piece is designed for air-flow and a cooling effect. These extra pieces also provide coverage for modesty as well. Outside of the water, I put on a skirt for additional modesty while biking and running.
In the water, I wear polarized, prescription goggles. My vision is poor and these goggles are a lifesaver. While they come in clear and smoke lenses, the smoke lenses are my choice because they keep the sun and glare out my eyes when swimming.
I have bike shoes that have cleats on the bottom to connect my feet to my special bicycle pedals. This allows me to apply for force at a faster rate without fear that my feet will fly off of the pedals. My bike helmet is an extremely lightweight, aerodynamic helmet which is designed for speed and performance.
I wear my Nashata Hooda Sports hijab while biking and running. It is thin and lightweight while keeping me dry. The airflow is perfect for me on the bike because I am usually still wet from the swim.

N: We’ve seen you wearing Hooda Sports Hijab in your Instagram posts. Tell us your favourite Nashata wear.
A: Just one? Honestly, I love all of the options that Nashata provides! However I think Hooda is my favorite because of its practicality. It is also lightweight, quick-drying and provides wonderful airflow. These are all things that are vital to making a triathlete comfortable.

“In Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina, you can practice bike skills such as climbing and descending on the bike.”

N: Where would you suggest new triathletes to go for a practice in The United States? Tell us the nicest spots you’ve ever been to.
A: There are so many options for practicing and building your skills in many areas of the United States. In Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina, you can practice bike skills such as climbing and descending on the bike. This is usually a skill that is built with a lot of practice. The locations have long inclines for triathletes to build their climbing endurance. In Florida, there is an immersive swimming technique class for triathletes that can get them ready for open water swim by practicing certain techniques in the pool. Areas like southern Texas, Florida and California are great locations for triathletes in the rest of the country to practice in the very late or early season due to their mild winters. When it’s snowing in December in Missouri, I can swim outdoors in Orlando, Florida.

“I tried to leave every Colombian I met with a good impression of Muslims, Islam and Muslim women in sports.”

N: Have you ever participated a triathlon in a different country? What was it like?
A: December 3rd, I travelled to Cartagena, Colombia to compete in a Half Ironman. The experience was absolutely amazing. Arriving in the country I immediately noticed that people were very curious about me. They took photos of me and requested that I be in photos with them. The children that watched the race were very fascinated with me and called out to me specifically to cheer me on and told me that they loved me and referred to me as “Aunty”. As a Muslim woman competing in hijab in a foreign and predominantly Christian country, I know I am an ambassador for all Muslims whether I want to be or not. It is an honour that I take very seriously and I tried to leave every Colombian I met with a good impression of Muslims, Islam and Muslim women in sports.

N: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about triathlon?
J: The challenge of triathlon is so great. I enjoy that fact that there are so many facets to the race. You can have an excellent swim and a difficult bike and turn everything around while running. There are people that are good at all three sports or some that find they excel in one particular sport over the other two. Regardless of your level of skill you will never participate in a triathlon and not hear a perfect stranger cheer for you and say encouraging words. When triathletes see someone struggling, that is they cheer for them the loudest. This sport is kind.

N: What is your advice to the new triathletes?
J: Remember that you don’t have to be better than anyone on the course, just be the best version of yourself. Be better than yesterday and keep moving forward.

N: What do you wish for in the future?
J: I would like to work on improving my swim and run times and work on my climbing skills. I believe I can be a better version of myself and look forward to seeing her very soon.

N: We wish you the best of luck in life! Thank you so much for agreeing to do the interview with us. We gained a lot of information from your wonderful experiences.
J: Thank you so much!

Sometimes we are too busy competing with other people that we overlook what’s truly important, to be the best version of ourselves. Be better than yesterday and keep moving forward. Thank you Jeri for the wonderful reminder!

Nashata at the The Dubai Women’s Run 2017

The Dubai Women’s Run held on 17.11.17 was a very special run for me in more ways than one.   

Firstly, It marked the launch of Nashata in the UAE, a project which I had envisioned   with the founder, Eliza, exactly one year ago.

Alhamdulillah, it came to fruition with a lot of support and encouragement from family and friends, despite the many bumps and hurdles along the way.

Secondly, the event proved to be a huge learning experience for me.  Running is truly a metaphor for life – so many life lessons reinforced through my period of training and of course race day.

 

The importance of setting goals –big or small. 

I am not a runner.  Far from it in fact. I had been telling myself that I will run a 5K “some day” for quite some time – until I decided that I needed to set myself a target date.  So I signed up for the run,and followed an 8 week training program on a running app.

As a mother venturing into a new business, keeping up with the app’s schedule was not always easy – but I tried to maintain some form of discipline and prioritized my time for training as my time for calm and focus.  Race day was challenging but I managed to shave a good minute from my previous time.

The best part –  the adrenaline rush lasts for a good 48 hours 😊

Compete with yourself, not others, and that will always bring out a better version of you 

At the end of the day, running is all about effort.  You will get uncomfortable.  You will want to stop.  You will ask yourself many times, “How am I going to make it to the finish line?”  You just have to keep moving!

Finishing the race becomes so much more about your mindset than your physical ability.  I slowed down at several points during the race, but as the time raced towards the 40 minute mark (my previous time), I sprinted to the finish line to finish at 39.06 mins.  Yes,  every second counts.  

 

There will always be records to beat – aim for your personal best!

Celebrating our own identities

The run was a beautiful confluence of so many women from different backgrounds, fitness levels with different goals.  There were mothers running with their daughters, women dressed in Indian saris, hijabs and abayas, all participating at the same event.  It challenged me to see beyond my own presumptions.  We can carry and celebrate our identities anywhere and everywhere.

So here’s to being proactive, setting goals, making no more gccexcuses and constantly striving to bring out the better version of ourselves each day, in sha Allah!

So…who’s up for a 10K?

Shop at gcc,nashata.com.  

Follow us on instagram @nashata.me

Weight Loss – Tips for Dieters

Weight loss journey is more of a mental challenge. Being mentally prepared is key that will help you stick to your journey on the long run and adapt to a healthier lifestyle.

Here are some tips that you need to tap into to make your weight loss journey manageable:

  • Think of your self as a think healthy person. Skip all the negative thoughts about feeling that you don’t deserve to be in this journey or how will you achieve your goals.
  • Eat health food that will feed your body not the food that will feed the fat.
  • Avoid dinning outside at least the first two weeks of starting your journey. This will help you to tap into a healthier lifestyle.
  • Plan meals ahead of time. This will help you to avoid dinning outside and will get you prepared.
  • When eating, eat slow, as you are sitting down and chew your food well.

 

 

Women & Diabetes – World Diabetes Day 2017

November is Not the Time to Give Up your Fitness Goal, It’s Time to Step Up. In fact, this 14th November, the world observes the World Diabetes Day and the theme this year is Women & Diabetes – our right to a healthy future.

It was found that people in South East Asia develop type 2 diabetes at a lower BMI level than those of European origin. High sugar and saturated fatty intake and inadequate consumption of dietary contribute to it.

World Diabetes Day 2017

World Diabetes Day 2017

Main causes of diabetes for type 2 diabetes:

  • Excess body fat
  • Physical inactivity, overweight and obesity
  • Higher waist circumference and higher body mass index (BMI)

Women, especially mothers play an important part in preventing diabetes. What can we do to prevent it?

  • Inculcate healthy and balanced eating habits from early age.
  • Promote breast-feeding
  • Discourage the consumption of unhealthy foods, such as sweetened drinks.
  • Provide conducive and supportive environments for physical activity.
  • Maintain a healthy BMI level.  A healthy BMI score is between 20 and 25

Let’s do our part to keep diabetes away from ourselves and families. Eat healthy and keep an active lifestyle! Spread the awareness.

Sources : Global Report on Diabetes, World Health Organisation

3 Simplified Tips for Self-Defense

With the ladies who floated like butterflies but stung like bees

Self-defense skills is an asset that all ladies should have, yet hope to never use. However, danger can lurk in any corner and women must be prepared. Having self-defense skills does not guarantee that you will be unhurt or unscathed in an attack, however it can increase your chance of surviving. Besides having the right skills, learning self-defense can boost your confidence level, improve your fitness level in a fight-or-flight situation (if you need to outrun your attacker), and makes you more coordinated when fighting back.

Self-defense does not have to be complicated. You don’t need a black belt to try to save yourself. Here are 3 simplified tips I learnt from today’s class at Hammerfist Fight Club, in Cyberjaya:

  • Punch with the correct technique

The knuckles on your second and middle finger is the hardest. Use that to punch instead of focusing on the whole fist.

You can also use the base of your palms to jab the upper body like the throat. The bottom part of your palms just before your wrist is actually stronger than your fist.

The tips of your fingers are powerful too. Use it to poke the eyes using all 4 finger tips. Aim for only one eye, and this is enough to distract your attacker.

Elbows are strong and sharp tools too. Keep it close to your side when punching to block kicks or attacks from the side that can harm the ribs and chest.

Getting as close to your attacker as possible to deliver the most powerful punch

  • Find weak points on the body.

They are:

Eyes, throat, the middle of the chest, stomach, groin, mid thighs, knees, shins, ankles.

These points are most vulnerable as it can inflict the most amount of pain to the attacker. So aim for these body parts when attacked.

Here is a brief video that contains information on how to use these weak points, but with slight variation from what we learnt today:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsjXVGhDuFU

  • Act swiftly

When facing an attacker, a split second can make a difference. Hesitation gives a window for the attacker to make his next move. Plus, acting swiftly gives the impression that you are confident and not a vulnerable victim.

I hope that these tips are useful for women when they are forced to face an attacker. For a full list of skills, it is best to enroll in a martial arts class where a certified instructor can help to polish your techniques.

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4 Techniques to Free Yourself

For more info on Kick Boxing, you can read Sarah’s experience here

 

Know your Heart ❤ when you Run your Heart ❤ Out

Running uses the highest muscle group, and your heart gets to work a lot. Running does change your heart as the heart is a muscular organ. As you exercise, your heart gets stronger – supposedly, but how do you ensure that what you do is not too much for your heart?

Off late, as a leisure runner, I check my  heart rates religiously while running. I would like to run faster, do not want to under-train, do not want to over-train either. Over-training can cause body injuries, and the heart is one of them.

I ran the half marathon at the Fire Fighter Cyberjaya Night Half Marathon 2017 and learned more about my heart. The first 11km run was good –  I managed to maintain a good speed and the heart rate was under 7mins/km and 150bpm respectively, but after the 12km, my speed slowly dropped and went downhill 19km onwards. I had to take it slow as my heart rate was high – above 170bpm at 19km. Although there are many articles brushing off the Heart Rate Training, I don’t think running in high heart rate is good either.

My Heart Rate Information for 21km . It went high after 19 km and I had to slow down

I finished at 2:34:58 net time, my new personal best, 12th for my category and 32nd overall women 21km. I was happy to finish with no injuries but the high heart rate was a concern to me.

1. So, that brings me to the question on what is a good heart rate while running?

  • First, know your Resting Heart Rate(RHR). The best time to measure is after you get of bed in the morning. The average RHR for an adult is within 60-100 beats per min (bpm). It is said the RHR is lower for athletes ranging from 40-60. bpm. Higher reading just means your heart works harder to circulate blood in your body. So, lower RHR indicates a better health.
  • Second, know your Max Heart Rate (MHR) which is 220 – age. Try not to work out your heart too hard so avoid running beyond your MHR.
  • Third, know the heart rate range for different types of run
    • Easy or Recovery Running – 55%-65% of MHR
    • Aerobic Running (marathon race pace)  – when your body has sufficient oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide and water : 75%-80% of MHR
    • Anaerobic  Running – when your run without enough oxygen. This is when your body produces not only carbon dioxide and water, but also lactate : 80%-87% of MHR
    • There are VO2 Max and Red Zone – I would not cover this as a leisure runner. Dive into this when you want to improve speed or want to be the elite runner or an athlete.
      More info at http://www.meet-your-running-goals.com/heart-rate-training-zone.html

2. What is a good heart rate to run?

Other than the above guidelines based on types of run, you can follow the guideline by heart.org – by age, as copied below :

Age Target HR Zone 50-85% Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%
20 years 100-170 beats per minute 200 beats per minute
30 years 95-162 beats per minute 190 beats per minute
35 years 93-157 beats per minute 185 beats per minute
40 years 90-153 beats per minute 180 beats per minute
45 years 88-149 beats per minute 175 beats per minute
50 years 85-145 beats per minute 170 beats per minute
55 years 83-140 beats per minute 165 beats per minute
60 years 80-136 beats per minute 160 beats per minute
65 years 78-132 beats per minute 155 beats per minute
70 years 75-128 beats per minute 150 beats per minute

3. What can affect your heart rate while running?

  • lack of sleep
  • stress and fatigue
  • dehyration

Make sure you get enough sleep, rest and hydrate well days before you run.

4. Warning signs you must not ignore while and after a run that can relate to your heart

  • chest pain
  • dizziness

If you experience any of the above, see a doctor. Although there are not many casualties pertaining to heart diseases or heart attacks at running events, but little things that have small effects on the heart like scaring tissue can hurt your heart in long run.

I use the Garmin Forerunner 235 to track my heart rate while running

You can measure your heart rate the conventional way – by counting your pulse on your wrist within 30 secs and multiply by two. Or you can invest and use tools or apps that help you track your heart rate when you run. It can help you improve performance.

There are many mixed opinion about Heart Rate Training and the risks involved, so it is hard to know what is right for yourself. Therefore, listen to your heart when you run.

Run your heart ❤ out but do make your heart ❤ happy! Cheers.

Run Your Heart Out

Weight Loss – Muscles vs Fat Mass

If you are trying to lose weight and you are not sure about what to exercise for, cardio or muscles, then this video is for you.
This quick video will help you determine how much cardio and how much strength training your body needs according to your body type. It gives a quick insight into what you should do to help your body with the weight loss process.

Good luck,
Nura

Weight Loss – Points to Consider

Weigh loss can be difficult if we don’t understand why we need to lose weight. It can also be confusing if we don’t know how.
But before you jump into any plans to lose weight, you need to keep in mind that weight loss is permanent.

Headstand Nura Arabi

Think about your goals

Here are some points that you need to consider before starting your weight loss plan.

  1. Get out of the Ideal weight/look mentality: Be realistic. Genetics play a big role into how we lose/gain weight and how we look.
  2. Assess why you need to lose weight: Is it for health issue or just to follow trends?
  3. Commitment: Don’t break the promises you make with your body. Losing and gaining weight again and again can cause more harm than good.
  4. Dieting stress: Are you able to handle dieting? Are you going to follow random diets? Never follow diets that are based on one food group or takes out an important food group out of your meal. Always be supervised by a professional.
  5. Make slow and steady plans
  6. Assess diet / exercise needs

Here is a video for you that further explains the mentioned points. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Cheers,
Nura xoxo

 

Nura Arabi – Nashata Ambassador

Strong yet sweet is who Nura Arabi is. A Canadian of Palestinian/Greek descent who resides in Abu Dhabi, Nura is full of positive energy inside out. This girl has broken many stereotypes. I first met Nura in 2016 when she came to Malaysia for a short visit tail end of Ramadhan. At that point, I admired her bravery for travelling alone from one country to another.

Nura Arabi finds Malaysia just like home.

We met again in Dubai early this year and she gave my daughter and I the best hospitality ever. My daughter will not forget the Camel Cookies she got us and I, on the other hand will never forget healthy meals and freshly-hand-squeezed orange juice she prepared for us while we were in Abu Dhabi.

FITNESS ++

To many, fitness is not just about building strength and ability to do headstands and push ups, but also eating healthy. But for Nura, it is beyond those. Her interest is rooted in research and development. She wants to help people to be better and that is aligned with what we do at Nashata – to empower women to have active lifestyle. A physical education (PE) teacher by profession, Nura instills the importance of discovery and growth as on-going process and she encourages students to see research activities central to daily life. At work, Nura teaches young children PE and swimming and every morning, she gives health tips for kids on Breakfast Club Show,  Pearl FM Radio 102.00, in UAE.

The Strength Within

SHE CARES & SHE SHARES

Strong and progressive, Nura cares a lot about building a healthy nation. She shares her views on how this can be achieved on newspaper, social media sites and podcasts. Her hard work and contribution in health promotion field was recognized and she was named as a Game Changer in GCC in the health promotion field. Hardworking and committed, Nura offers a lot of tips and knowledge to all.

Nurturing & Knowledgeable

Nurturing & Knowledgeable

SHE IS KNOWLEDGEABLE 

Teaching is in Nura’s blood. Her parents were teachers and her mother has been pivotal in her career and interest in fitness and education. After receiving her Masters in Education from Canada, Nura continues to read a lot and conduct researches pertaining to fitness and health.

You will never get tired of Nura.  Now, at 27, she is full of energy and has many fresh ideas. At dinner before she departed to Abu Dhabi, she told me about two things about keeping fit; Having the Knowledge and Willpower. Two of which you don’t hear much from others.

NURA – BREAKING STEREOTYPES

“I have heard about Nashata a while back but was a little skeptical (I have problems with online shopping) But when I checked everything in person, I fell in love. The material is light, breathable and will last you long. The black shirt I am wearing holds up to lulu lemon quality and can cross to a swim wear. ? The best part is the hijab. Fits like a glove around the head, the length stops at the neck ( doesn’t crumble under clothes) and very very light. You can literally take it anywhere and you can fit it in one of those coins purses”, says Nura on her Instagram/_ichallenger/

There will be more takeaways from energetic Nura, InsyaAllah, as she will be sharing her tips here at Nashata ! ?

The Color Run Malaysia 2017

Are you a fan of colors? If you are, then I hope you managed to attend The Color Run last Sunday (13 August) at Padang Merbok, Kuala Lumpur.

If you’ve never heard of The Color Run, it’s a run where fist-full of colors would be thrown at you throughout the whole 5 kilometres. It first began in Phoenix, Arizona five years ago and slowly expanded across the globe.

The race kit was collected at eCurve, Mutiara Damansara the week before. Needless to say, they were pretty cool. The white t-shirt was a soft cotton fabric, unlike most of the other t-shirts I own. There were a few other things too, including a goodie bag and a headband with the words “THE COLOR RUN” printed in bright yellow.

Race kit – a white t-shirt for colors to be thrown at and a goodie bag containing facial products, sticker tattoos, and a headband.

On the event day, I got up at 5:40 a.m. and made my way (with my uncle) to the designated location. The sky was still dark, and the roads were exceptionally empty. Without the usual heavy traffic present during the day, it took a short 30 minutes to get there.

Upon arriving the field (Padang Merbok means Merbok Field, so the event was set up on a field), we were astonished to see the wave of people in identical white t-shirts. There were at least 500 people warming up, lead by the event hosts who were already onstage with two unicorns dancing about.

Took a bite of a giant doughnut before the run.

After a few stretches here and there, we were lead into a pathway towards the starting line like a massive herd of sheep plus we were all wearing white, so we were all human sheep. There were at least three drones flying high up above our heads, recording the whole thing.

Participants were released in waves, each one starting off with a sprinkle of color over their heads. We were the lucky enough to be at the second wave, which started a little after 7:15 a.m. Participants who started later had to run under the eight to nine o’clock sun.

It was a cool and lovely run, thanks to the ample shade the tall trees provided for us. It was like running in a forest. At first, we thought there would be color stations every kilometre, which should add up to five stations. To our surprise, the distance between the first station and the second was less than a kilometre, probably as short as 500 metres.

The first station threw yellow, green, and purple at us. I was lucky my aunt advised us to bring a scarf or a cloth to cover our faces while running through the stations beforehand. The colors were made of powder, in which the event crew threw fist-full of colored powder at us. Since they were made of powder, it caused irritation to the eyes and the mouth. There were a few times where we ran past families, their young children complaining of the powder in their eyes or their color powdered shoes.

After running blindly through stations of blue, orange, neon green, and red, we reached the finish line at 8:30 a.m., our clothes and hair stained with color. At the finishing line, we were given a packet of colored powder each, including a bottle of water and a can of energy drink.

Thoroughly stained with color.

Nashata Sweatpants splattered with paint.

My uncle’s red mane after the run.

Overall, it was a fantastic event. Though it wasn’t your typical run-and-go marathon, it was definitely a fun run. Not recommended for children 10 and below because they may not be able to handle the irritation. If you’re in Rhode Island or Portland (and many more places in the United States and around the world), you still have a chance to participate in the fun. Who knows, maybe you’ll join the run next year.

– Nukey