Non-competitive race draws 20,000 participants in the city

Blue, green, pink, purple and yellow are the colours that will surge upon Calgarians like massive tidal waves as they get blasted by sea after sea of these vibrant colours.

Over 20,000 participants signed up to run at Canada Olympic Park for the 2013 Color Me Rad 5k race on June 29, which benefits the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

Participants are asked to wear white shirts, and will receive neon sunglasses as well as a stick of coloured, environmentally-friendly cornstarch to throw at other participants.

They will be doused in different colours about every five minutes, leaving their white shirts, well, not so white.

Color Me Rad was held across Canada and the United States for the first time last year, raising money for a multitude of various charities including Keep a Breast Canada and the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh. However, race director Alex Grow says they had to cancel the race in Calgary because they couldn’t find a location.

“However, this year,” Grow says, “Canada Olympic Park has gladly opened their doors to us.”

The race drew an overwhelming response from Calgarians eager to participate in the fun. So much so that the race sold out in just three days at 10,000 people due to a shortage of parking.

Grow says they hired Southland Transportation Ltd. in order to be able to open up another 10,000 spots by providing shuttle busses. Even so, those last 10,000 spots sold out by the beginning of April, capping off the participants at a whopping 20,000 making this the biggest Color Me Rad race in history.

This is good news for the Alberta Cancer Foundation, as Grow says they have already raised thousands of dollars towards the cause and estimates that by the end a total of $40,000 to $50,000 will be raised.

Grow says it’s been such a huge success in Calgary as well as other cities because it’s a great way for people to get healthy and have fun at the same time. “In fact, usually 60 per cent of the people who sign up have never even ran in a race before,” he says.

Color Me Rad was held across Canada and the United States for the first time last year, raising money for a multitude of various charities.

Photo courtesy of Sebastian.Barre/FlickrBrooklynn Carney, 24, is one of these people. She was drawn to this race because of its carefree, non-competitive vibe and is thrilled at the idea of getting blasted by a rainbow of colour as she races to the finish line.

“I just saw an ad online for it and decided it was more of a fun race,” Carney says. “But at the same time, it will still be challenging for me because I have never ran in a race before, so it’s still something that I can push myself towards.”

Although she says she would describe her current fitness level as being “a complete zero,” joining this race has motivated her to make a change.

“Because of this race, I’ve actually started a diet a couple months ago and have been walking,” Carney says. “I hope to eventually work my way up to running by June.”

Similar to Carney, this race will also be 23-year-old Kiersen Rieberger’s first race. “I decided to try out this race because it sounded like a lot of fun and since it’s only a 5km, it’s a nice place to start,” Rieberger says.

Before signing up for the race, Rieberger says she also had a zero-fitness level, with no running experience, and that this is helping her to kick-start her fitness and health goals.

Currently, she has hired a personal trainer and joined kickboxing, yoga and other fitness classes in hopes of working her way up to running outside in the spring.

“The race is going to be great for me because it’s about having fun and it’s non-competitive,” Rieberger says. “It’s just the perfect way for anyone to get started running.”

She says she’s so thrilled with the idea of running that her final fitness goal is to run a marathon one day and that Color Me Rad is helping her work towards that goal.

For Carney, this race is also helping her aspire to bigger goals. “I want to start exercising more and getting into more runs,” she says. “Who knows, maybe I could do a triathlon one day. I just wanted to start somewhere and I think a fun environment, [like the Color Me Rad race], is probably the best place to start.”

Although these girls have their own, unique fitness goals, they both expect to finish the race completely covered in colour and with big smiles on their faces.

While some Calgarians missed out on the fun this year, Grow says not to worry. “Next year, we are planning on opening up a lot more spots.”

ltaylor@cjournal.ca