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The Color Run coming to Elizabethtown

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Freeman Lake Park to host colorful course in October

By Marty Finley

Freeman Lake Park will be drenched in color this fall.

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The Color Run, a national and international race dubbed the “Happiest 5K on the Planet,” has added Elizabethtown to its 2013 tour schedule, which is expected to include around 100 events and attract a million individuals this year. Runners are set to start at 9 a.m. Oct. 12 inside the park.

The run, which is not timed, is sponsored by The Wright Legacy Group and proceeds benefit SpringHaven Domestic Violence Program. Registration opens April 15 at www.thecolorrun.com/elizabethtown. Participants are invited to run individually or as part of a team. The cost is $35 each for a team of four or more and $40 for single participants, said Preston Ward, an assistant race director organizing the Elizabethtown leg.

During the run, participants are encouraged to wear white to the starting line because they will be doused with a different color at each kilometer. Once the race wraps up, a “Color Festival” is organized, where runners dance and toss colored powder as a form of celebration.

In addition to its message of fun, The Color Run promotes health and wellness. Nearly 60 percent of color runners count it as their first 5K, according to Ward.

Melanie Parker, vice chairwoman of SpringHaven’s board of directors, has lobbied for The Color Run as a fundraiser for the shelter. She attended a tour stop in New Orleans and was enamored with the atmosphere.

“It’s not a race,” she said. “There’s nobody to compete against. It’s 100 percent about families and about people getting out there together.”

One element of the run promoted heavily by organizers is the individuality of the races, which are flexible enough to accommodate toddlers and the elderly. Whether one is a first-time runner, casual mall walker or professional athlete, the run has a universal appeal, Ward said.

“Because this race is not timed and is all about having fun, it lacks the intimidation that other running events have,” he said.

Tour stops typically sell out quickly, Parker said, so organizers aim to cap the run at 7,500 participants because of parking and spacing issues. Parker said she may lobby for a cap of 10,000 runners if the 7,500 mark is insufficient for demand.

“We may,” she said. “We just have to see how quickly we sell out.”

Online votes for Elizabethtown as a tour stop were a large reason The Color Run made the addition, she said. Parker said participants receive packets that include their assigned number, a T-shirt, headband, temporary tattoo and a packet of color they can throw into the air to create “color clouds.”

“It’s a warm fuzzy for everyone,” she said.

The powder used basically is corn starch so it is not hazardous to participants and is biodegradable, she said. Organizers stage cleaning stations for runners at the event’s conclusion.

Parker said the run also incorporates a cleaning plan so the park will be returned to its previous state before the team leaves. Ward said the cleaning plan is confidential, but the run uses street sweepers and power washer to restore sites.

Organizers, Parker said, need to recruit hundreds of volunteers to assist with the race.

The Color Run held its first official race in Phoenix, Ariz., in January 2012. During last year’s tour, the run crisscrossed roughly 50 U.S. cities and three international stops, attracting around 600,000 participants. Those numbers could double this year with a greater expansion into Asia and Europe. The run also raised donations for more than 50 charities by the end of 2012, according to The Color Run’s website.

Other U.S. stops on the tour this year include Baltimore, Denver, Indianapolis, Louisville and Milwaukee.

“We had an awesome city contact that came to us,” Ward said of Elizabethtown in an e-mail. “Our first year we were looking at just hitting major cities across the U.S., but this year we are trying to bring it to as many cities as possible.”

Parker said the message of happy, healthy, fun entertainment perfectly captures the shelter’s goals.

“That’s absolutely what SpringHaven is about,” she said.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.