Chuck Williams: Columbus Color Me Rad 5k about to paint the town -- with corn starch

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 18, 2013 

As the inaugural Color Me Rad 5K gets set to rock downtown Columbus Saturday morning, you can color me shocked.

Stunned. Absolutely, completely stunned.

The event being held for the first time has more than 3,500 runners registered, and organizer Uptown Columbus Inc. is expecting that number to top 4,000 by the time the first wave leaves Woodruff Park at the base of the Dillingham Street Bridge at 8 a.m.

Think about that for a second: 4,000 runners. To put it into perspective, the most successful run in Columbus is the Country’s Midnight Run, which drew 3,500 participants last August.

It took Country’s 33 years to build the numbers expected for the first Color Me Rad 5k. Less than 200 runners participated in the first Country’s run, which benefits the sight-impaired. Proceeds from the Color Me Rad 5k will benefit the Children’s Miracle Network.

What’s going on here? What’s the hook?

First, it is really not a race. It is not timed, like other events. So, there are no winners or losers.

“It’s a party,” said Scott Ressmeyer, Country’s part-owner who has been involved in every Midnight Run.

A party at 8 a.m. in downtown Columbus. Sounds like fun. And maybe that is part of the attraction. Color Me Rad runs are sweeping the country, from Bakersfield, Calif., to Miami. They are the hip thing to do.

I know people who don’t run who have signed up for the race, which is not cheap. If you didn’t make the $40 early registration, it will cost you $50 to enter now. There are runs downtown nearly every weekend. This is an expensive one.

The key to the fun is what they call “color bombs” and “color stations.” This is how the Color Me Rad website describes the Columbus run: “The Color Bombs start flying at 8 a.m. with waves of runners getting plastered with paint every 5 minutes after,” the Color Me Rad website promises. “You’ll end up looking like a kindergarten art class gone wrong. … You’ll wind up looking like a pack of Skittles.”

Skittles?

Ok, here is the deal for those of you who are old, not so cool and just don’t get it — I am in the club with you, by the way — it is not really paint they will be showering on runners. It’s colored corn starch — Kroger brand, no less.

There will be four color stations along the course, one of them at the corner of 12th Street and Broadway in front of the Ledger-Enquirer building. “That would be a great place to watch the run,” said Uptown Inc. President Richard Bishop.

There will also be three color stations along the course, which uses Front Avenue, Broadway and the Chattahoochee RiverWalk. As they go through the color stations, runners will be hit with the starch.

I am still trying to understand how this is fun. And I am still trying to figure out why people pay a premium to do it.

Ressmeyer has studied the Color Me Rad model. He just shakes his head and says, “I wish I had thought of it.”

The organizers promise the corn starch won’t make you sick.

“These blasts of starch will change your color, and your demeanor, but never your level of wellness,” the site proclaims.

So, this unique event will leave downtown Columbus tie-dyed.

“Don’t worry, we will be right behind them cleaning it up with pressure washers,” Bishop said.

I have a feeling about sunrise Saturday morning I am going to find a big cup of coffee and enjoy the show. Let’s hope I don’t get any corn starch in it.

Chuck Williams, senior editor for content, chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.com.

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