Monday, October 29, 2012
A dash of color at Virginia Tech fundraising 5K (with photo gallery)
Runners were pelted with colored cornstarch during Sunday's fundraiser for the Special Olympics.
Photos by Daniel Lin | The Roanoke Times
Runners during the Color Me Rad race at Virginia Tech on Sunday pass through a color station along the route.
Participants were encouraged to dress up for the run.
At the end of the race, runners congregated and exploded "color bombs."
BLACKSBURG -- Blacksburg is expecting some unpleasant weather this week, but Sunday morning brought partly cloudy skies with a 100 percent chance of multicolored cornstarch.
The Color Me Rad 5K run brightened up Virginia Tech's campus as about 5,000 people laughed and danced their way to the finish line.
The untimed run is designed to be enjoyable and is marketed toward college students, especially first-time 5K runners. The race started at the tennis courts by Southgate Drive and ended in the parking lot adjacent to the Virginia Tech police station near Lane Stadium.
At the beginning and end of the course and every half-mile along the way, participants were pelted with brightly colored cornstarch.
Loud electronic dance music encouraged the participants, most of whom wore white T-shirts that looked tie-dyed by the end of the race. Many women wore white or multicolored tutus and multicolored knee socks. Some runners dressed up in costumes.
James Kirrane, a junior aerospace engineering major at Tech, wore a rabbit costume made up of a white bodysuit and rabbit ears.
"Honestly, I never went home last night," Kirrane said, laughing. He had worn the costume to a party on Saturday night, thinking the white suit would be perfect for the run the next day.
Kirrane, an exchange student from England, said Sunday's run was like nothing he had experienced before.
"It was madness," he said. "I enjoyed it. You wouldn't expect to do this kind of thing on a Sunday morning."
Color Me Rad, a company based in Utah, organizes 5K runs around the U.S. The most recent East Coast run was Saturday in Raleigh, N.C.
Race director Janessa Black said the company has hosted about 30 runs across the country so far this year and plans to host about 100 events next year.
The races raise money for charities. On the East Coast, including Sunday's race at Tech, the charity partner is the Special Olympics. Special Olympics athletes from the Roanoke area stood at the starting line and received high-fives from excited runners.
Linda Maness of Roanoke has volunteered for Special Olympics for 25 years and traveled to Sunday's run with some of the athletes.
"It was great for them to participate at the start," she said after the run. "It's encouraging as volunteers to see this many who want to be a part of a fundraising event. I never would have thought 5,000 people would come out on a Sunday."
Color Me Rad donates to the charity partner based on how many charity volunteers help staff the run. Runners can also donate to the charity during registration. The amount raised during Sunday's race, at which 150 Special Olympics volunteers helped, was not available.
At the end of the run, participants were given individual bags of colored cornstarch and gathered in a large parking lot near the Virginia Tech Police Department station. After a countdown, the smiling, screaming, dancing runners exploded their colors into the air, creating a cloud of multicolored dust.
Though the majority of the runners seemed to be Tech students, some families and people of all ages attended.
"College is our main demographic, but we get runners age 7 to 80 years old," Black said. "We sound loud, but we're a family-friendly party."
Amy Tuggle of Roanoke and her adult daughters Anna Weaver of Charlottesville and Rebecca Kyle of Botetourt County drove to Blacksburg to run together.
"There's lots more different kinds of people here," Weaver said.
"It's a tie-dye rainbow of giggling people," Tuggle added.