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5 reasons to participate in D.C.-area color runs

Thursday - 4/17/2014, 6:15am  ET

Color Me Rad 5K (Courtesy Color Me Rad 5K Facebook)
Participants in the Color Me Rad 5K in Orlando throw the color blasts at the post-race party. (Courtesy Color Me Rad 5K Facebook)
  • Gallery: (9 images)

WASHINGTON -- Traditional 5-kilometer races involve packs of sweaty, bib- wearing runners with a mission to cross the finish line faster than the other participants.

But the trend of color runs -- also known as paint races -- around the country aims to create a more vibrant running experience.

In a 5K -- or 3.1-mile -- paint race, participants dress in white, and volunteers pelt the runners with "color blasts" made of non-toxic, biodegradable cornstarch in different hues. The races often end in parties in which participants can throw the colors on each other.

And there is no shortage of paint-race options in the D.C. area. Several are coming up in the next month.

The Color in Motion 5K will be held April 19 at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. Color Me Rad 5K is set for May 3 at Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro, Md. The Color Run's May 18 event at National Harbor is sold out, so organizers added a second date for Sept. 28, also at National Harbor.

As the events fill up, race organizers share their thoughts on why people should come out and participate in the multicolored movement in the D.C. area.

  1. Paint races are fun! The races are filled with carefree, jovial participants who are dedicated to supporting each other, says Alex Grow, the Color Me Rad 5K master of ceremonies.

    "It's just a change of pace," Grow says. "I think of it as a fun, interactive experience."

    Getting messy makes the experience that much better.

    "There are bright clouds of color through the race and at the party at the end," he says. "It makes for incredible pictures."

    Everyone can join in on the fun no matter the age or fitness level, says Jessica Nixon from Color Run.

    "This is an event to participate in with friends and family and have the time of your life running or walking it," she says.

  2. It's good exercise. Many people are looking for ways to get in shape, and a paint race is a great way to kick-start a fitness campaign, says William Cook of Color in Motion.

    "A lot of people want to get fit and a lot of people want to have fun while doing it," Cook says. "I really think this is what has made [the races] skyrocket in the U.S. We're a culture that likes to be entertained."

    Grow says the distance is manageable for people just starting to run.

    "A 5K is something to be proud of, but doesn't take super serious training," Grow says. "I think for people looking to get fit and healthy, it's a great bridge to a more fit, active lifestyle."

  3. It's a way to give back. The D.C.-area color run events help charities.

    Color Me Rad 5K is supporting Special Olympics in Prince George's County.

    Color in Motion 5K is raising money for Hindu Seva Communities -- an organization that will use the proceeds to feed the homeless, promote wellness, empower women and youth and promote energy conservation and environment protection.

    The Color Run will donate a portion of its proceeds to D.C.'s Children's National Hospital. Also, it has set up a fundraising platform for the hospital.

  4. It's not competitive. For some runners, the focus on fun instead of winning is refreshing, says Cook.

    The races are not timed and "un-intimidating," Grow says. "It's more about having a good time and getting across the finish line together."

    Nixon says The Color Run lacks the "intimidation factor" that other organized fitness events can have.

  5. You'll be the envy of your friends on social media. Color runs are popping up around the United States as well as other countries, and Grow says one big thing has contributed to the growth of the runs: Social media.

    He says color runs have a viral effect.

    "You'll get some of your favorite pictures you'll ever take in your entire life at this event," he say. "Your friends see the pictures and say it looks like fun and sign up, too."

Below is more information about the D.C.-area races:

DateCost (As of 4/16) Location
Color in Motion 5K4/19/2014Race day registration: $50; family pack: $32FedExField, 1600 FedEx Way, Landover, Md.
Color Me Rad 5K5/3/2014$45; race day registration: $50Six Flags America, 13710 Central Ave., Upper Marlboro Md.
The Color Run (May)5/18/2014Sold outNational Harbor, 165 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Md.
The Color Run (September)9/28/2014Team running price: $45; solo runner: $50National Harbor, 165 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Md.

Color Me Rad 5K is offering $10 off on online registration for participants who use the promo code "WTOP."

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