The Color Run came to Bellingham for the first time and the non-competitive 5-kilometer provided an opportunity for athletes, couch potatoes and everyone in between to spend their morning outside getting splashed with paint powder.
“We just wanted to have fun on a summer Sunday morning,” Todd Stewart said.
The Color Run was Stewart’s first run and a chance to do something new with his 12-year-old son.
“We are not runners,” he said with a laugh. “But seeing the color part of it made it seem like we could do it. I hope it turns into an annual event around here.”
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The run began at the corner of North Commercial Street and Flora Street, then turned along Cornwall Avenue. Around 5,000 runners, in waves, went around Broadway Park and came back to end by the Bellingham Public Library where the lawn was converted into a post-run block party. At every kilometer volunteers splashed runners with colored powder and by the end each person looked like a rainbow and clouds of sparkly dust settled on every surface.
The Bellingham Color Run was part of the new 2015 Shine Tour, which introduced a shiny powder and other sparkly elements to the colorful event.
Teams in costumes with tutus and tiaras, mothers running with young children in strollers, families and friends all participated in the inaugural Bellingham Color Run.
“It was a chance for roommate bonding,” said Taylor Smith, who ran with the two women she moved in with this summer.
Mollie Xiteo said the run, a first for her and Smith, was for fun but now she wants to try another 5K.
Craig Stevens ran with his family, including two young children in a stroller. The hardest part was weaving through everyone but they had a great time, he said.
For Bailey Weitzel The Color Run was her second 5K race. She formed a team with family and coworkers, Team Kitten Kabootle, recognizable by their matching cat-themed outfits.
“We are already planning next year’s run,” Weitzel said after the race.
The Color Run organizers are also planning on coming back to Bellingham, turning the run into an annual event.
For a first-time event in a new city, it was a success and sold out a week before at over 5,000 participants, Greg Perkins said.
“This has been a really good one,” said Perkins, who travels all over the country with The Color Run to put on events. “To sell out the first year is important.”
The Color Run has hosted events in Seattle and Tacoma in recent years. Organizers noticed many participants were traveling down from Whatcom County, so they began looking at ways to bring the run to Bellingham. The Whatcom YMCA partnered to host the run and provide volunteers. The day of the event was one of the least stressful and most well-organized runs he has worked, Perkins said.
“The volunteers are awesome because they give us a connection, rather than being this outside organization.” he said. “So often people develop long-lasting friendships between volunteers and organizers and then encourage them to stay involved.”
Since the first race in 2011, The Color Run has become the single largest event series in the world, according to their website. Over 300 runs took place in over 50 countries in 2014. Dubbed the “happiest 5K on the planet” the event attracts first-time runners as an enjoyable way to promote health through exercise.
With the addition of Bellingham, The Color Run has four annual events in Washington including Seattle, Tacoma and Spokane.