WENATCHEE — Color them red, blue, green and yellow. But mostly color them exuberant.
“It’s both fun and funny,” laughed Patrick Allen, 14, of Wenatchee, leading the pack Sunday in the Color Rush 5K, a fundraiser for United Way of Chelan and Douglas Counties. He was the fastest of the seven-member Team Skittles and at halfway through the run was already coated in multi-hued layers of colored cornstarch.
Beginning and ending at Pybus Public Market, the fun run drew more than 550 uncolored participants who dashed through thick clouds of tossed powders to emerge alive but dyed. United Way organizers estimated the event raised $7,000 to $8,000 to help fund Youth United, a program for students in grades 6 to 12 to train in volunteering.
“Holding a big event like this allows us to focus less on fundraising and give more time and energy to supporting great local causes,” said Trina Heuchert, United Way’s marketing director and a primary organizer of the Color Rush. “Plus, this is a blast.”
Make that a color blast. Popular in big cities, the Color Rush sent joggers and walkers on a 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) circuit that included four stations where color blasters tossed clouds of tinted cornstarch onto participants. And just in case they missed a spot, a fifth color blast at the finish line included hundreds of runners tossing colored powders and getting thoroughly coated.
The colored cornstarch is edible and, supposedly, washes clean from hair, clothes, sidewalks and streets. A leaf blower was available to puff away much of the powder. Still, at each color station observers could hear warnings to shut your eyes, close your mouths, hold your breath and cover your babies.
At the blue station, color blasters halted all tossing as a runner with baby stroller approached — but the stroller was empty. “Trickster!” shouted one tosser. The runner was doubly blasted.
Running buddies Kelsey Grant and Emily Albrecht, both 21 and from East Wenatchee, jumped at the chance to get coated in powder because it was an opportunity to run together. “Oh my gosh, this is lots of fun,” said Grant, face streaked with green and blue. “And it’s all for a good cause.”
Irene Godfrey, 56, said she had no trouble with a second-skin of colored powder. “It even smells kind of nice,” she said. “It has a perfume-y aroma.”
Even Clayton Worley, driver of a street vacuum for Clean Sweep and Snow Plowing, was having a good time sucking up the cornstarch from Worthen Street and Riverside Drive. His mobile vacuum truck was streaked in rainbow colors.
“Never done this kind of job before, but it’s kind of fun,” said Worley, opening an access door to the truck’s huge dust container, now tinted dark blue inside. “Can’t wait till thing’s full. Then we’ll be talking some serious colors.”