‘Color Run’ leads to dyed houses, towed cars

ccampbell@newsobserver.comOctober 4, 2013 

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Runners get “color bombed” as they approach the finish line during a different color race in Raleigh in October 2012.Runners are pelted with colored corn starch as they run the course, and deluged at the finish line.

CHUCK LIDDY — cliddy@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

— Residents of the historic Oakwood neighborhood are fuming after a recent “color run” left brightly colored powder on houses, and some people’s cars were towed from outside their homes.

The Color Run is a for-profit 5K race where runners are doused with dyed starches along the route. They are held in dozens of cities across the country each year, billing themselves as “a race that celebrates healthiness, happiness and individuality.” Raleigh hosted a similar event by the unrelated Color Me Rad group in October 2012 at the Walnut Creek Amphitheater; that event will return to the Raleigh amphitheater on Oct. 26.

The is was the first Raleigh event for The Color Run, ranked as the most popular 5K running series in the U.S. But complaints about its route through historic Oakwood are prompting city leaders to ask why such an event would be allowed in a neighborhood.

Neighbors say they’re happy to host road races but that The Color Run had a huge negative impact.

“The Color Run employees hurled pounds upon pounds of colored corn starch on the runners, forming for around an hour a cloud of multicolored starch so thick that, without any exaggeration, it looked like a bomb had gone off,” Terence Friedman wrote to neighbors. “Our house happens to be unpainted brick, but others on our block now have painted wood homes with starchy psychedelic residue on them.”

Polk Street resident Sarah Woodard David wrote to council members that multiple residents had their cars towed from the street outside their homes; they had gone out of town and weren’t given adequate notice of the event.

“Towing a car from in front of its owner’s house is essentially towing a car out of a driveway, given that most of us do not have driveways in Oakwood,” David said.

Friedman also said the event offered a rude awakening early on a Saturday. “On top of the tow trucks beeping at 7 a.m. this morning, The Color Run employees congregating on our block began blasting mid-’80s Madonna out of large speakers well before the runners even came through,” he said.

Race organizers reimbursed residents for their towing fees, and sent in crews to wash off the streets.

But Raleigh City Council members want to investigate further, and they say rainbow starch doesn’t belong in a residential neighborhood.

“This whole Color Run concept sounds like a bad idea that may have been made worse by inadequate city regulation and/or oversight,” Councilman Russ Stephenson wrote in an email.

And at last week’s council meeting, Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin said the city’s event task force, which handles applications for road races, should be moved within City Hall rather than remain a function of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, a nonprofit organization that plans events downtown.

Road races in general have been a touchy subject for Raleigh, which recently capped the number of annual road closures at 100 per year. The council’s law and public safety committee will again review the issue soon. In addition to the Color Run complaints, Councilman Randy Stagner says he’d like to revisit possible exceptions to the cap – a planned race in North Raleigh, which sees fewer events than downtown, recently got tabled because the city had hit its limit.

Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter

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