They wore neon and tutus, and ate cornstarch.
Written by Guru Amar Khalsa, Oregon NewsLab
In the beginning most wore white and tutus (for some reason). By the end, they were walking rainbows.
After completing the Color Me Rad 5K fun run, they crowded around the stage, hundreds of almost unrecognizable, cheering runners thoroughly caked in color. They waited, sporting matching neon sunglasses, for the signal to bomb each other with packets of colored corn starch, while the event emcees rained down more powder from the lift above.
No runner can hope to stay remotely clean in the unusual run, hosted this Saturday in Eugene at the Valley River Center.
The Color Me Rad crew calls it "the run that's been ruining other 5K's since 2012."
"Really they're just fun runs," co-founder John Malfatto said. "There's nothing about them that's very competitive, it's more just to get people out here to have a good time. There's no timing, there's no winners. Everyone's a winner, right?"
Sporting a neon yellow rain jacket and neon pink sunglasses, Malfatto seemed to take his color bombing duties very seriously and with endless enthusiasm. Taking over the stage once, he pulled out what appeared to be a large fire extinguisher. Colorful havoc ensued instead, as clouds of color powder exploded from the canister, engulfing the cheering crowds below him.
"We have liquid color and powdered color during the race," Malfatto said. "The runners will get hit by color every few hundred meters or so, and at the end we have a giant color festival and everyone gets a package of it and they throw it up in the air. Fortunately the corn starch is all food grade, edibleyou don't really want to eat itbut it causes no issues with the environment and we do our best to really clean up and leave things better than when we found [them]."
"My favorite part was running through the liquid color," run participant Jonathan Backer said. ""It tickled!"
The race is based on the Holi festival from India, where they throw color as a way of celebrating springtime. "And so, perfect for this being April and coming out here to Eugene to do it," Malfatto said, and added with a grin, "It's not too difficult to get people to run in Oregon."
Color Me Rad Eugene drew in around 6,000 participants, both young and old, this Saturday. The run was split up into 6 waves of 500 runners.
"My favorite part is getting people off the couch and out to do something," Malfatto said. "I mean sure, the throwing the color up in the air is really cool, but it really is nice to get people out doing something active, because at least 50% of all our runners have never run a 5K before. So that's something really cool."
Some participants may have other reasons in mind though.
"Everyone wants a good Facebook profile picture," Malfatto said grinning, "so that's why everyone comes out and does it. And so if we can get a lot of good pictures and for people to get out here and run a little bit and get some exercise then we're happy."
Practically bouncing up and down from excitement (and adrenaline), Backer urged people to attend next time. "Anybody wants to do this next year, come and do it. It's awesome!"
Portland will be hosting the next race June 1st, 2013.