Volunteer Haryl Dabney, center, leads runners at the start of the Color the Grove 5K Run at Riverfront Park Saturday. The event was jointly hosted by the Flint RiverQuarium and Darton State College and was followed by a music festival at Darton’s campus on Gillionville Road. See if you were SPOTTED at www.albanyherald.com.
ALBANY, Ga. -- For some people, running colors are a major laundry problem, but the pinks, greens, reds and blues were running through Turtle Park Saturday -- and on pairs of human legs. The Flint RiverQuarium, in partnership with Darton State College, launched their first Color in the Grove 5K Run and Music Festival, and by all accounts, it was a great success.
Designed to be a "fun" event, similar to the RiverQuarium's October Zombie Run but with brighter colors, each participant was given two packets of colored cornstarch powder, to be tossed in the air at the start of the race. A thousand people came to circle twice around the nearby neighborhoods and along the Riverfront Trail.Volunteers were poised to pelt the runners with even more colored powder.
"It's really popular in some of the bigger cities and people have asking for it here," said Blythe Henderson, runner and event volunteer. "A lot of people use it for an excuse just to dress up and do whatever they want. It's a break from everyday life. I love it."
Henderson said the powdered color concept originates in South India with the Holi, or Phagwah Festival of Color, where participants throw colored powder at each other.
"Last year Darton College had Groove in the Grove," said Tami McCoy, volunteer and 5K run Committee Member, "so we decided to join forces and call it Color in the Grove."
By 2 p.m., official starting time, the runners, joggers and casual walkers, some dressed as clowns or ballerinas, gathered near the Bridge House in Turtle Park. As the multi-colored clouds went up and out, the runners drifted through -- most of them still relatively untouched.
Minutes later, Elena Oslund, 20, originally from Russia, now a student at Darton State College, crossed the Turtle Park starting line. She finished hand-in-hand with her friend, Alexis Skiles, 18, from Dawson, also a Darton student. They appeared to have been wrestling rainbows -- great splotches of green, pink and blue trailing in the perspiration of two human Easter eggs.
"It was an easy run," said Elena, "except it was really crowded. I almost fell over a little kid."
Alexis said the cornstarch bothered her contacts and wished she'd worn sunglasses. The two of them are top two runners on the Darton cross country running team, they said.
Unfortunately, the pair had taken a wrong turn toward the finish line, which was at the Art Park on Pine. The first to cross the "real" finish line was Alejandro Garcia, a member of the Darton College soccer team.
The Darton ladies weren't the only ones to wander. Hank Campell, who "finished" in the Park, said there had been questionable direction by a police officer along the route.
"We really had a lot of fun," Campell said, "but the route just needed more signs."
Viki Churchman, co-organizer of the event and manager of volunteer services at Flint RiverQuarium, said participation at the event far exceeded even the Zombie Run in October, which drew 347 runners.
"We had 800 runners pre-registered for this event," Churchman said, "and at least another 200 signed up today. This has been a real learning experience for us. Our goal this year was just for everybody to come out and have a good time."
Registration for the run was $30 in advance and $35 on Saturday, Churchman said, with proceeds split between Darton State College and the RiverQuarium. Included in the cost was admission to the main concert set for later Saturday evening on the Darton campus. Planned was a giant color throw in advance of the musical groups, Abigail Rose, Relapse and country singer Cole Taylor.