The Rapidian

Color Run comes to Grand Rapids, benefits local charity

The colorful 5k visits over 40 cities this year, making a stop in downtown Grand Rapids this August.
A big celebration takes place after The Color Run with music, food and more color.

A big celebration takes place after The Color Run with music, food and more color. /Courtesy of The Color Run

Underwriting support from:

Get involved with The Color Run

For more information on The Color Run, visit their website.

To register for the Grand Rapids Color Run, go here.

To volunteer to throw color on runners as they pass, go here.

A big celebration takes place after The Color Run with music, food and more color.

A big celebration takes place after The Color Run with music, food and more color. /Courtesy of The Color Run

All ages are welcome to participate; ages 5 and younger run for free.

All ages are welcome to participate; ages 5 and younger run for free. /Courtesy of The Color Run

The Color Run will take place in downtown Grand Rapids on August 5. For the first time, Grand Rapidians will run the streets of downtown while getting doused with powdery color along the way. There's a different color at every kilometer and at the end of the race everyone is covered, head-to-toe, with yellow, green, blue, purple and pink.

"We've got a couple team members that are from Michigan and they went to bat pretty aggressively for a Grand Rapids Color Run. We also have a race in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. The response from Michigan has been really incredible," says John Connors, the supervising race director for Grand Rapids.

Each Color Run benefits a charity in the city it's in. For Grand Rapids, The Color Run will benefit the West Michigan Sports Commission, whose mission is "to promote Michigan’s West Coast as the premier venue for hosting a diverse level of youth and amateur sporting events, enhancing the economy and quality of life in the region."

"Finding a great local charity that is highly involved in benefiting their community is very important. Rather than pick a national charity, which would be much easier, we chose a diverse group of charities. We have worked with everything from food banks to youth groups to children’s hospitals," says Travis Snyder, The Color Run creator.

The Color Run started in January of this year in Tempe, AZ. By the end of 2012, over 350,000 will have run the colorful race. "The really impressive number is that we will go through 2,240,000 safety pins this year putting bibs on people," says Jackson Cozzens, a PR coordinator for The Color Run.

Boasting itself as "The Happiest 5k on the Planet," The Color Run does not time runners and is more focused on everyone having fun rather than working to set a personal record.

"Saying that the race is not timed makes it sound like a much less threatening environment for those who have never attempted a 5k before," says Cozzens. 

Snyder says setting a time goal for a 5k can be really rewarding, but The Color Run is not that 5k. "Going and doing the Color Run, it's much more about being social, a little more about the experience and just about being. It's a lot less about expectation; it's just about fun," says Snyder.

"For more serious runners, a fun run can be more of a break. It’s a way they can share their passion with friends and family," says Snyder. "It can also be something a runner can do with a less active friend of family member. That's really where the bulk of our growth has come."

"The Color Run has had more first time 5k runners that any other event in history. For most of these runners it will lead to more participation in fun runs and competitive events," says Snyder. "We take a lot of satisfaction in the fact that our events lead people to have a more healthy and active lifestyle."

The planning with each city starts six months to a year before race day as each race director works with city departments and local police forces to ensure the safety of everyone involved. When the race is over and the color runners head home, staff and volunteers clean the color left on the streets.

"Within a few hours of the last runner crossing the finish line, the only evidence you will see of The Color Run will be happy Color Runners walking around the city. The course itself, on the other hand, cleans very quickly. We have a very detailed cleaning plan and an incredible team whose sole purpose is to ensure that the streets of Grand Rapids, and every other city The Color Run passes through, look better after we leave then they did when we got there," says Conners.

"The Color Run also gives them a sense of individuality," says Cozzens. "There is just something about being covered with color that lets your inner colors shine through."

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.