In the wake of Anchorage’s first Color Run held last weekend, drawing thousands of people to the Downtown area, organizers and commerce groups say the event has been a boon to both a local charity and businesses across town.
More than 15,000 people participated in the untimed 5-kilometer run, which started and ended at the Sullivan Arena. At each kilometer along the route of the run, held by the for-profit The Color Run, LLC with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of Alaska, runners were sprayed with blasts of colored cornstarch.
Alana Humphrey, the Boys and Girls Club of Alaska’s CEO, says she’s “very pleased” with its involvement in the Color Run. She says the group’s proceeds from the run -- which haven’t yet been fully tabulated -- should go toward its Triple Play program, which promotes healthy living and exercise among children.
Business groups are equally happy with the run’s impact on town. Penny Smythe, the Anchorage Downtown Partnership’s marketing director, says she’s heard from many members that traffic in the area received a significant Color Run boost Saturday.
“Any way you can bring people into Downtown Anchorage, it’s definitely a good thing for the city,” Smythe said.
Bill Popp, president and CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corp., says he participated in the run. Many businesses, particularly restaurants and coffee stands, reported increased sales both before and after the run, and Popp says runners were everywhere Saturday.
“You can’t discount the economic impact of several thousand participants, perhaps a few thousand more, coming into the Downtown area,” Popp said. “There wasn’t an intersection around town where you couldn’t come up on a car with a cloud of colored starch coming out of it.”
Color Run race director Chad Evans says about 15,600 paid runners -- each of whom provided a $50 fee, working out to $780,000 in gross revenue -- participated in the event. In addition, children ages 5 and under ran for free, and onlookers swelled the attendance count still further.
“We figure with people that just came down to spectate, there were between 20,000 and 25,000 people at Sullivan Arena,” Evans said.
According to Evans, the exact breakdown of how much money the Boys and Girls Club will receive from the event is proprietary and won’t be released by Color Run officials.
“That’s a number we came up with prior to working with the charity,” Evans said.
Evans says one local business which benefited from the run -- the Sports Authority store in South Anchorage, where Color Run officials held pre-registration on Friday and Saturday -- reported a 500 percent sales increase for those two days.
“There’s a huge economic value to the Municipality and the businesses around it,” Evans said.
Color Run officials also used local travel and rental-car agencies to handle their logistics, contracted with local water firms to provide water for runners, and rented gear from local companies to assist workers with cleanup duties.
“We usually bring in our own EPA-certified cleanup crew and they work with local equipment,” Evans said.
Lindsey Whitt, a spokesperson for Mayor Dan Sullivan’s office, says the city didn’t incur any cleanup costs from the Color Run because they were absorbed by race organizers. She had high praise after the run for the quality of the cleanup.
“They did a fantastic job -- I ran in the Color Run and came back after a few hours, and I couldn’t tell,” Whitt said.
Whitt says the city’s costs from the Color Run included about $11,500 in Anchorage Police Department time for traffic and crowd control Saturday, as well as a $675 permit for the run covered by the city’s Traffic Engineering Department.
Asked for an overview of the city’s perspective on the run, Whitt was expansive.
“Nothing negative to report,” Whitt said. “Everything went off well, and I haven’t heard otherwise.”
Contact Chris Klint