Last week, I put on my running shoes and headed up to Sunderland for a new event – the Neon Run.
You might have heard of the Colour Run, a fun 5k race where participants are pelted with coloured paint as they make their way around the course.
The Neon Run, which originated in Australia, has a similar principle. It’s a 5k fun run that takes place at night; participants wear their brightest gear and decorate their faces with neon paint. It’s a bit like the runners’ version of a rave.
We arrived at Herrington Country Park just outside Sunderland as the sun was going down, unsure of what to expect. The place was already busy – despite the cold, windy weather – with groups of people in neon outfits and flashing accessories, all ready to have some fun.
Once you’re signed in, you get chance to wander around a few stalls before the warm up starts. With DJs from one of the region’s bigger radio stations leading the entertainment, it was actually a fun night, despite the cold. We bounced around to a selection of tunes, including some retro Will Smith and the Vengaboys, waving our complimentary flashing wristbands in the air.
After the entertainment and the race warm up, it was time to get down to business. The runners were split into groups and sent off into the darkness, following the course around the park.
For me, this was probably the weakest part of the evening. Having seen some great photos on the website of previous events, I was expecting the light displays around the course to be a bit more dramatic, but there were actually few lights – none at all for long stretches, which makes for a slightly uncomfortable run in the dark, although you can follow the light from the flashing wristbands that all the runners wear.
The idea is that you follow the route, which includes several stations all playing different kinds of music: disco, indie, pop etc. You can stop off at each one for as long as you like and enjoy the music and the lights.
A great idea, but it needed more impressive lighting to take the event to the next level. In fairness, some of the lights couldn’t be used due to the high winds. But it would have been brilliant to see lights everywhere – in one place there were several neon guide posts stuck into the ground, which looked really cool. A few more of those would have been brilliant. The park itself is quite open, which also makes things harder, but it would be a fantastic experience to run through an avenue of trees all lit up with fairy lights or lanterns.
Still, it was a fun night and is something I’d consider doing again, probably with a bigger group of people and a couple of drinks.
A fun, unusual event that has a lot of potential.
Thanks to the team at Sports3 for inviting me to come along and experience the Neon Run. All opinions are my own.