November 20, 2013

Be Healthy, Be Happy, Be You.

They call it the happiest five-kilometer run on the planet. Tel Aviv recently hosted an unofficial version of a Color Run™. Color Runs began in 2012 to help promote health and happiness. There have been 170 events in over 30 countries so far.

Last Friday, thousands of runners came out to Hayarkon Park, including my husband, son and daughter. I declined, as I was turned off at the idea of inhaling paint particles. Turns out it was a great time for a great cause.

What is a color run? Runners wear white shirts and sunglasses. As they run, bystanders throw paint powder, dousing runners from head to toe with paint. By the end of the race, participants resemble human tie-dye.

Apparently, the paint is environmentally friendly paint powder made from cornstarch. It is also a great opportunity for Nirlat, an Israeli paint company, to display their wares.

My daughter, who ran with the organization Yachad, took the body painting aspect to a new level. Before the race began, she found herself in a paint fight and became covered from scalp to calves in globules of paint that later required intense scrubbing to remove. How did she get covered in indelible paint when the race was all about removable, healthy paint powder? Only she will know. 

Turns out, the Tel Aviv race was a little different than the traditional Color Run as bystanders did not throw paint on the runners. Instead, race organizers tossed paint from five different color stations. Perhaps leaving paint tossing to Israeli bystanders was a little too risky for  our enthusiastic, assertive population.  My husband finished the race unscathed. 'Too clean,' he concluded.

The Tel Aviv Color Run had corporate sponsors and was organized to raise awareness for Natal, the Israeli Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is often called a ‘transparent wound injury'; victims look fine on the outside but suffer terribly from stress on the inside. Since its beginning, Natal has helped 160,000 people who have suffered from post-trauma, as well as their families.  They offer therapists who work with victims in Arabic, Amharic, Russian, French, English and Spanish.

The event was also held on the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. Some forty years later, many Israelis are still emotionally scarred from this war. Many of the runners were PTSD sufferers and the symbolism of this run was to have these victims become more visible as they become covered in colorful paint. Some 1,000 combat soldiers participated in the run. The run ended with a big event for Natal, lots of loud music and colorful fun.

In Israel, sweetness and sorrow are often tied into one tight, complex knot. Israelis suffer, yet they know how to rejoice and run on with their lives. This event was very symbolic of Life In Israel. 

Here is a promotional video:

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