Color Run expected to bring more than 600 to city Saturday

Published 9:41 am Thursday, September 17, 2015

The United Way of West Central Mississippi is ready to paint the town in a rainbow of colors to represent its 22 partner agencies.

The city’s first ever 5K True Color Run is happening Saturday to kick off the campaign season. Wednesday, organizers had a count of 627 people signed up to run, raising more than $15,000 for the United Way.

“Five hundred was an ultimate dream of mine. Six hundred twenty seven is just unbelievable,” executive director Michelle Connelly said.

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The opening ceremony will kick off at 7:45 a.m. with Mayor George Flaggs Jr. welcoming the crowd.

The 5K begins at 8 a.m. with a staggered start time for individual runners, school teams, corporate teams and individual walkers. The route will have five different color stations were color powder is blasted into the air to cover participants as they run through the fog.

Registration is $35 through 5 p.m. today when the online registration ends. The fee for registering on Friday at the United Way from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 7 a.m. until 7:45 a.m. at the United Way booth on the Farmers’ Market lot will be $40.

Participants who have already signed up for the race can pick up their race packet now at the United Way, 920 South St., from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. today and Friday. These bags can be picked up on the morning of the race, but Connelly said it would be more efficient to pick them up in advance.

All the swag bag gear was only guaranteed for the first 500 participants meaning people who sign up now will probably have fewer items in their bag.

The bags are filled with race gear like sunglasses and bandanas to protect the eyes and cover the mouths of the racers, a business card sized meal ticket necessary to access lunch and a white Live United T-shirt, which all participants should wear during the race.

“I want to see a sea of [white] Live United T-shirts at the starting line and then a colored-up sea of Live United T-shirts at the finish line,” Connelly said.

In addition to the T-shirts, the staff at the United Way encourage participants to wear crazy, colorful accessories like tutus, tiaras, different length and color socks, hats, temporary tattoos and, of course, their race number bib.

“Anybody and everybody in the entire community and surrounding areas are invited to the after party to have a great time, but in order to run or walk in the one mile or the 5k you must have a number attached to your shirt,” Connelly said.

Connelly wants the community to line the race route and cheer on the participants.

The one- mile fun run route starts going east on Jackson Street, turns south on Monroe Street, then west on Veto Street and back north up Washington Street before finishing at the Farmers Market lot.

The 5K route, which covers portions of Jackson, Monroe/Drummond, Bowmar and Washington streets, will close Saturday at 7 a.m. and reopen once runners and walkers are no longer present.

However, blocks with color stations will remain closed until a street sweeper can clean the area.

The portion of Washington Street between Grove and Jackson streets and the portion of Jackson Street between Washington and Monroe streets will not reopen until 1 p.m.

Over 1,000 people are expected downtown, and Connelly is encouraging people to show up early. People are asked not to park along the race route because the roads will be closed for a length of time and cars will most likely get a dust of color powder.

Shannon Royal, community impact and events coordinator at the United Way, said they are still in need of volunteers to be block coordinators.

“Block coordinators are the ones who will be manning the streets making sure that everyone is having a good time and there are no accidents or anything. They’ll have minor first aid kits with them,” she said adding they may help direct traffic on side streets.

Connelly has a few recommendations to make the day hassle-free including putting all electronic devices into zip-lock bags so the color powder can’t harm them, bringing a change of clothes and using a sheet to cover car seats.

The competition between schools for the $500 library donation is tight, and Connelly is tight lipped about who has taken the lead. The school with the largest team of runners will be announced as the winner at the race.

Multiple awards will be given out following the run including top three finishers in male and female categories, largest corporate team, most creative and most colored participants and more.

The after party goes until 11 a.m. with a DJ, food, door prizes, a photo booth and booths for the United Way’s 22 partner agencies.

Food will be free for participants who present their meal cards and $3 for everyone else. Beer is $3 with $1 from each sell going to the United Way.

Massages will be offered for $2 per minute with half of the money being donated to the United Way. Photos will be available for purchase at Extra color powder will be available for purchase at three bags for $10.

“Throw it before, during or after the race, up in the air at your friends,” Connelly said.

The staff of the United Way wanted to thank their color run committee, the board of directors and the campaign cabinet, especially Katie Ferrell who Connelly called a God-send who truly understands the reason for the event.

“I can almost guarantee you there may be some snafus,” Connelly said. “We’ve never done this before, but please keep in mind what it is for. It is a fun event to bring the community together to raise awareness for our 22 partner agencies.”

To donate, text PROMOTE to 41444.