The Southern Appalachian Ronald McDonald House is signing up runners for Color Me Rad, a new, colorful and extremely popular kind of 5K in which runners are doused in colored cornstarch along their way and cross the finish line looking like “a kindergarten art project gone horribly wrong.”
Set for Sept. 14 at the Appalachian Fairgrounds in Gray, the race has already caught the attention of more than 2,000 registered runners and Ronald McDonald House hopes to increase that number to 4,500.
Everyone who registers using the promotion code SARMH will receive a 5 percent discount on their entry fee and generate a donation to the Ronald McDonald House equal to 15 percent of the fee.
“We will make money but the real benefit is awareness,” said Rowena Bailey, executive director of the guest house for families of children receiving care at area hospitals.
Color Me Rad directors Tommy and Kristine Peterson visited the house on Friday to help announce the event and explain its skyrocketing popularity.
Since their first race in April 2012, the Petersons have staged more than 100 races across the United States and Canada, attracting up to 23,000 runners. To avoid parking issues at the fairgrounds, capacity for the Tri-Cities race has been capped at 5,500 runners.
“It’s hilarious what you can get people to do for a free T-shirt,” Kristine Peterson said.
Tommy Peterson said, “This is not a typical 5K. It’s not timed with a clock, we time it with a sundial. Everyone shows up in a white shirt and about every kilometer we paint or spray you with some color and what happens is everyone comes out looking like a kindergarten project gone horribly wrong.
“It’s pretty fun.”
Kristine Peterson said every race is a little different with fun before and after the events that depends largely on the participation of local community sponsors.
She said the post and pre-race itinerary for September is still wide open but will include a warm up session of “Piloxing,” a dance-like combo of pilates and boxing that like the RAD run itself is growing fast in popularity. And there will be a Color Bomb Party with East Tennessee State University’s Alpha Delta Pi sorority, sponsor booths and fun competitions, hula hoop or pushup contests and other events, depending on the sponsors. And every 5 to 10 minutes there will be, what else, color throws in which everyone gets doused.
Ronald McDonald House Assistant Director Whitney Sangid, who invited the RAD run to come to Johnson City to help the house, said the event will not only be fun to run, but the running will be for a good cause.
With 16,000 children’s families served since the Southern Appalachian Ronald McDonald House opened, Bailey said, “We are meeting our mission.”
Color Me Rad runners must be at least 16 years old to participate and are welcome to run or walk the 3.1-mile course around the fairgrounds. The early entry fee is $35 through midnight on Friday, and $40 through midnight on Aug. 16 when the fee tops out at $45. For those who register using the SARMH promo code, the early entry fee is $33.25 and will increase by $5 on Saturday and again on Aug. 17.
To register, visit www.colormerad.com and click on the Johnson City link. For sponsorship information or to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Whitney Sangid at 975-5437.