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Downtown Huntington welcomes the Color Run 5K on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013.
Huntington hosts 1st Color Run
Sep. 01, 2013 @ 12:00 AM
HUNTINGTON -- Downtown Huntington was filled with color Saturday morning as the city hosted its first Color Run.
Organizers chose to bring The Color Run to town after several groups and agencies came together to campaign on behalf of Huntington. And the months of work paid off as an estimated 3,000 people packed Veterans Memorial Boulevard for the 5K, then enjoyed an after-party at Harris Riverfront Park.
"It's so energetic, it really doesn't get boring," said Louis Wills, the race's co-director. "We do things to make it the happiest 5K on the planet."
One of those things was to spray kelly green powder on runners as they passed by Marshall University along Hal Greer Boulevard. Wills said when they started planning the Huntington event, they wanted it to coincide with Saturday's opening game of the Thundering Herd's football season.
The 5K is not timed, as participants are encouraged to simply enjoy themselves and get crazy with color. In fact, the only rules are to start with a white shirt and end plastered in color.
Each runner was given a packet of colored, food-grade cornstarch that they squeeze into the air or, in some cases, smear onto one another. That's what happened to 76-year-old Charlie Stone, whose daughters came in from Tennessee and South Carolina for a birthday celebration.
He said they told him Friday evening what he was in for, and before he could make it to the start of the race, his daughter, Jan Kincaid, was dousing him with color.
Not far away, Heather Hanna of Summersville and her friend Ashleigh Winter of Scott Depot were taking in the excitement that was about to be unleashed.
"It's just exciting and so much energy here," Hanna said. "It's not like any 5K I've done."
Kim Patton, McKenzie Miracle and Jennifer Allen -- all students in Marshall University's School of Pharmacy -- were part of a large group that came out for the event. Some of them wore tutus, while others had temporary tattoos of "The Color Run" and "Happy."
"I did a Color Run in Florida last December, and it was fun," Allen said. "Just so happy. Just makes you smile."
The race's emcee got the crowd pumped as they started the run in phases. Before each countdown, he threw T-shirts, sunglasses, bracelets and led "We Are Marshall" chants with Huntington Mayor Steve Williams.
Runners finished the race at the 12th Street entrance to Harris Riverfront Park, coming in looking much different than they started, thanks to the three stations along the course where volunteers sprayed them with the colored cornstarch. It was a perfect match for Dr. Joseph Thompson and three members of his staff. They all wore multi-colored clown wigs and boasted about the fun they had.
"I've run all my life, but nothing like this," said Thompson, who was one of many who said they want to see The Color Run return to Huntington next year. "The whole atmosphere, they know how to do it."
Williams early Saturday afternoon said that it was one of the most fun events Huntington has hosted, and he's already talked with organizers about setting a date for 2014.
"I had been told to expect that it would be a remarkable success and that people would have more fun than they ever imagined," he said. "And I think it was beyond whatever our wildest expectations were."
Williams touted the work of his administration, the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau, among others, that helped make it Saturday special.
"I believe Huntington is one of the smallest venues, and they said the energy we have is as high, if not higher, than other places," Williams said. "I couldn't have been more proud of our city."
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