UNH students ‘Live Free or Dye’ at Sunday’s Color Dash 5K
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 16:02
Sunday, Oct. 21 was Holi incarnate on Boulder Field at UNH.
Holi, the Indian festival of color, is held in the spring to celebrate life and the renewal of the world’s energy. It is characterized by a feel-good atmosphere, the abandonment of traditional rules in favor of a good time and coating others in fluorescent-dyed paint.
This was the aim of the Live Free or Dye 5K Color Dash: No rules, no competition. Just fun.
“This is my first race; I’m so excited,” Brooke Prestia, a UNH freshman, said. “I can’t wait to get colored. I plan to keep it.”
Regaalo, a gift-giving service that connects students and parents, and TurnRight.com, a career advice website, teamed up to put on the race. Registration began at 9 a.m.; early-bird registers were given clean white T-shirts fit to be splashed with dye, along with a packet of either pink or yellow pigment.
Heats began at 9:15 a.m. and continued in 15-minute intervals. Responsible for pumping up runners was DJ Bill Pyndo, who played music throughout the day. Providing refreshments was Young’s Restaurant, and the Health Spirit Center in Durham gave massages to the weary.
Collecting pigment, and lots of it, is the goal of any color run. Participants run a typical 5K, a 3.1-mile-long course. Except in these races, the track is peppered with volunteers at stations that spew vibrantly dyed cornstarch as runners pass. Runners need not fear: the mixture is non-toxic. Traditional colors include blue, pink, green, orange and yellow.
Kelly Johnson, a senior at UNH, was running her first color race ever along with her mother, Kathy Johnson, a casual runner.
Live Free or Dye was Kathy Johnson’s second race she had run. She and her daughter were running as a team, along with their friend Patty Holt, of Portsmouth.
“I heard about it from my marketing professor,” Kelly Johnson said. “I told my mom and Patty about it, and now here we are.”
Kathy Johnson agreed that the event was more about fun than competition.
“I’d heard about it before from my friend,” Kathy Johnson said, “and I thought it would be cool to try the new color craze.”
Holt, who runs more regularly, thought the interest that Kelly Johnson showed meant that the race was worth checking out.
“She (Kelly Johnson) made me want to partake,” Holt said. “It sounded like something different and fun.”
Color runs fall into a category of races dubbed “fun runs.” Unlike a typical, competitive race, fun runs are all about the experience. From color runs to zombie chases — where runners must escape from hordes of the undead — and from filthy runs to obstacle courses, novelty races focus on enjoyment. This often encourages people who normally do not run to participate.
Prestia and her friend Kelly Anson were inspired to run when they first heard about The Color Run, the original color run, back in January.
“I wanted to go to the one in Boston,” Anson, a sophomore, said. “But it’s so expensive to go to Boston; it’s easier and cheaper to go here.”
She added, “I also saw the YouTube videos The Color Run put out. I think those were what convinced me (to run).”`
While enormously popular, color runs are only in the first leg of what will most assuredly become a long-standing runner tradition. The grandfather of color races, simply dubbed The Color Run, was first held in Tempe, Ariz. back in January 2012. Since then, according to the official website, color runs have exploded onto the running scene. And it’s for a good cause: Proceeds from the race go to benefit a different charity for each city.
The Color Run’s original tour included 18 cities. Due to popular demand, its 2012 series expanded to around 40 cities.
“The demand has been crazy and exciting,” said Color Run founder Travis Snyder, via The Color Run website. “Every day, hundreds of people make requests on our Facebook page for us to bring the event to their favorite city.”
The race’s booming popularity has spawned variations. Color Me Rad, the biggest comparative race, also douses its participants in pigment, and then donates the proceeds to a local charity. Live Free or Dye followed suit. Portions of the profits will go to the UNH Track and Field team.
Festivities began at a starting line marked by a tarp. Pyndo was responsible for counting the runners down.