The YMCA keeps residents healthy and engaged in more than 10,000 neighborhoods across the country, but it traces its American origins to the streets of 19th-century Boston. Here, Thomas Valentine Sullivan carried on the mission started in London by George Williams: providing affordable recreation and residence to young men from cities and country towns alike. Over the last century and change, the organization's mission changed to keep pace with the evolving times; today, the YMCA of Greater Boston welcomes anyone interested in furthering the causes of "youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility."
This modern mission combines the Y's signature programming with new initiatives designed to keep citizens one step ahead of an ever-changing world. Members stay fit and active with everything from organized sports and fitness classes to lifeguard, CPR, and first aid lessons. But the Y's developmental programs go far beyond bodily strength; their enrichment and leadership courses equip youths with the confidence needed to take charge in their everyday lives, and ESL classes help newcomers to English embark on the next step of their linguistic lives.
Color Me Rad stages 5K races that transform runners into mobile rainbows by launching cheerful barrages of colored cornstarch. Each color station along the racetrack flings a new, nontoxic pigment at passersby, who wear white shirts to enhance the chromatic onslaught's costuming effects. Brilliant neon-blue, green, purple, and yellow clouds dapple participants along the way, and the race concludes with a prismatic finish-line finale as sprinters chuck colors at each other in celebration. The race's noncompetitive credo shifts the emphasis from speed to silliness, and a portion of its proceeds go to local charities.
Upon registration, each runner collects a Color Me Rad T-shirt, sunglasses, sponsor gifts, and a race bib. Though they don't receive a gift packet, runners younger than 8 years old can sprint for free, provided they have a waiver signed by a guardian and won't give in to demands for gold from confused leprechauns.
Boston Running Center wrangles a crack team of personal trainers, sports nutritionists, and of course, running enthusiasts with the express purpose of helping clients get the most out of their pavement-pounding routine. Whether runners are training for a marathon or simply hoping to outrun a personal demon named Azazel, the tailor-made programs and one-on-one guidance—including unlimited phone and email access to coaches—help them sprint straight into the beating heart of those goals. Clients learn to avoid common injuries, bolster lower-body strength, and fine-tune their workout routines.
The Great Bull Run brings the thrill of Pamplona's historic event to cities across the United States. Modeled after the Running of the Bulls, this one-day event enables participants to race live bulls, keeping one step ahead of the charging animals to finally prove that toes are better for running than hooves. While the historic Pamplona event has had few serious injuries in its 102 years of existence, The Great Bull Run staff takes even more precautions to ensure runners stay smiling from beginning to end. Additionally, the bulls are given the full respect they deserve, and are not antagonized or harmed before, during, or after the run.
Following the race, runners and newcomers can gather together for a good old-fashioned food fight. Tomato Royale arms entrants with juicy fruit that they can fling at each other. Additional post-run activities include an after-party, live entertainment, and games as well as food and beverages.
Tomato plants are imperfect, yielding just as many inedible fruits as the healthy, tasty ones. The organizers of The Tomato Bash devised an alternative employment for the unworthy bounty, transforming the leftover tomatoes into ammunition for a massive ketchup making party. Participants are encouraged to sport silly costumes for the big event, as they are inevitably going to get utterly filthy.
To kick off the festivities, revelers are entertained with a cadre of food trucks, beverage vendors, and DJ playing tunes, including rebellious anthems encouraging the tomatoes to throw themselves. At 3 p.m., the tomato foam machine outside of the tomato arena powers up, pumping the stage area full of bubbly, pink fruit foam. Then the hordes of goggle-clad contestants descend upon a large arena and lose themselves in a sea of red goo.
Though the event itself is always held at the same location, the scenery at the SouthField Classic 5K Road Race Walk & Run changes every year. The beginner-friendly race exhibits the ever-shifting landscape that is SouthField: a 1,400-acre community that's planned to be built in staggered phases, much like a gingerbread house during an icing shortage. Each year's 5K winds down the community's secluded streets, showing off its new homes and tree-lined vistas. Afterwards, race organizers hand out prizes to the top individuals and teams.