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To dye for
Ready to paint the town? Here are some tips to get the most out of your experience.
Message in tape. Using duct or packing tape, tape a message on the white T-shirt. After the race, remove the tape and see the message.
Wear sunglasses. The rims aren’t just to mute the bright colors of the paint but keep it out of your eyes.
Bag it. Many runners like to take a smartphone or camera along the course. To make sure it doesn’t get damaged, put it in a plastic baggie when it’s not in use.
Hair care. Oiling your hair well on race morning will make it easier to wash out the color later. Coconut oil or olive oil work best. This is a particularly useful tip for runners with light colored or highlighted hair.
Sources: Heather Schoegler, Amber Recker and the Color Run
More info
Color Vibe: Starts at Memorial Coliseum; June 29; event begins at 9 a.m.; $45 through June 28;
Color Run: Starts on Baker Street, following the Fort4Fitness course to finish at Parkview Field; July 27; waves begin at 9 a.m.; $45;
Color Me Rad: Starts and finishes in Johnny Appleseed Park, winding along Spy Run Avenue Extended; Aug. 24; waves begin at 8 a.m.; $40 through June 21;
Photo courtesy of the Color Run
During paint events, runners are pelted with dyed corn starch.

Running through a rainbow

Photo courtesy of the Color Run
Color Run participants look tie-dyed by the time they finish the untimed 5K event.
Photo courtesy of Heather Schoegler
Heather Schoegler, left, and Amber Recker participated in a Color Run event in Indianapolis last year.

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but a photo of Amber Recker after a 5K event is worth just one: Fun.

With a big smile, Recker of Fort Wayne reveals a set of hot pink teeth. Blue paint splatters her face and obscures the view behind her oversized, stylish sunglasses. Her once-white T-shirt is nothing but – decorated in colored corn starch that was thrown at her along the course of last summer’s Color Run in Indianapolis.

“I left Indy thinking that was the most fun I’ve had in my entire life,” Recker says.

Over the course of 3.1 miles, participants wearing white are “bombed” with dyed corn starch packets at stations along the path, at finish-line festivities and by fellow runners who are given a packet at check-in. The end result is a runner who looks like she went through a tie-dye machine.

The events are relatively new to the running scene – the Color Run had its first event in January 2012 – but have rapidly grown in popularity. Last year, the Color Run stopped in 50 U.S. cities and three international locations, attracting more than 600,000 runners. This year, the company hopes to attract more than a million runners at its 100 U.S. events – including a stop in Fort Wayne on July 27.

In fact, the Color Run will be among three paint runs in the city this summer, with the Color Vibe on June 29 and Color Me Rad on Aug. 24.

Recker is registered for two of the Fort Wayne runs – the Color Run and Color Me Rad – teaming up with friend Heather Schoegler, who also attended the event in Indianapolis last year.

“I’m not a runner. I have enjoyed it but the best part of running is the race,” Schoegler says. “(The Color Run) was just the most fun race. At the end, there’s a big celebration and color explosions going on.”

Last year, Schoegler recruited a couple friends to form a team to run with her and Recker, and the two are doing so again for the July and August events.

“People that I wouldn’t have ever thought to ask, I’ve seen them posting about doing these runs,” Recker says. “When I do 5Ks, there’s this little group of people that I always ask, and they’re the runners and they’ll come out and do the 5K with me. … This is everybody. People who have never run at all are, like, ‘I’m going to go out and do this.’ ”

Jessica Nixon, public relations specialist for the Color Run, says about 60 percent of the events’ runners have never participated in an organized 5K. The events are not timed, and Schoegler and Recker agree that it removes the intimidation factor that other races might have.

“A lot of them use this 5K as their goal and use it as a celebration for becoming healthy, happy and active,” Nixon says.

Amanda Macias of Huntertown recently began working out with some family and friends, and they thought it would be fun to sign up for a 5K to stay motivated.

“After talking with my co-workers, it seemed like the Color Me Rad race was more welcoming for people who have never ran a 5K,” Macias says. “It didn’t seem as serious as other races and to me that was more appealing.”

Macias is training for the race and will run it as part of a team of more than 20, spearheaded by a cousin who is a personal trainer.

And though it helps to have an enthusiastic runner rounding up friends, the popularity of the events is largely driven by social media. Ryan Hall, event director for the Color Vibe, says much of the advertising budget is spent on Facebook and Twitter. In addition, photos taken after the event are often shared on social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, fueling the buzz and attracting new runners, organizers say.

“You’re running around and people are throwing powder on you, which sounds so ridiculous, but I think the thing that makes it so fun is the social aspect in the taking pictures, getting each other dirty and then social sharing that goes on afterward,” Recker says. “I had fun for weeks afterward just looking at everyone’s Facebook photos and Instagram photos.”