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The Color Run gaining notice in Elizabethtown

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More than 1,000 signed up

By Marty Finley

A nationwide fun run known for its free-spirited romps in color has started to take hold in Elizabethtown a few months out from its stop at Freeman Lake Park.

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Melanie Parker, vice chairwoman of SpringHaven Inc., said around 1,160 people had registered for The Color Run on Oct. 12 at last check, which is dubbed the “Happiest 5K on the Planet.” She expects the number to be even higher now because it grows every day, she said.

“Really, that’s all word of mouth and Facebook, truth be told,” she said.

Organizers have applied for funding through the Elizabethtown Tourism & Convention Bureau for advertising outside of Hardin County, and Parker said they will soon install a billboard and turn to television advertising to attract more interest. The event also was promoted during The Color Run stop in Louisville, which attracted around 10,000 people, Parker said.

She expects the increased marketing presence in upcoming weeks will bulk up the numbers and attract more out-of-town interest. Most of the participants as of now are locals, she said.

As a member of the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, Parker also is excited about the potential economic stimulus it will drop in the area.

“Everyone will want to go out and eat,” she said.

The run, which is not timed, is sponsored by The Wright Legacy Group and will benefit SpringHaven. Parker said the domestic violence program has dedicated between 200 and 300 volunteers to help staff the run, equating to about $40 per volunteer.

“Which is quite a bit of money for SpringHaven,” she said.

Registration opened in April at www.thecolorrun.com/elizabethtown. Participants are invited to run individually or as part of a team. The cost is $40 for a team runner and $45 for single participants, according to the website.

Parker said she has been shocked at the sheer number of businesses that have formed teams.

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. 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.

Once the race wraps up, a “Color Festival” is organized, where runners dance and toss colored powder as a form of celebration. Parker said the run is not a race or competition, but is geared toward family friendly fellowship.

Organizers have capped the number of participants at 3,500 after talking to Police Chief Tracy Schiller and Elizabethtown events coordinator Sarah Vaughn about impacts on parking and crowd control.

“We definitely want to see large numbers for a lot of reasons, but we want people to be comfortable and have fun at the same time,” Vaughn said.

The Color Run held its first official race in Phoenix 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.

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 advanced runner, the run has a universal appeal.

Parker said they even have volunteers in wheelchairs so the event is not prohibitive if you want to participate.

“We can find something for everyone out there,” she said.

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