Inaugural Color Run brings more than 500 runners to Annapolis streets

Rachael Pacella

Young runners paused as they rounded the corner from Stewart Avenue onto Lafayette Avenue Sunday morning.

The children and adults running in the Sunday's inaugural Annapolis Color Run had already been sprayed with orange, and now they were slowing to be painted another shade of the rainbow. Waiting for them, with a water gun filled with diluted green paint, was Annapolis resident Franklin Lendor.

Lendor fired and the street filled with giggles, as the runners continued on to the next color station.

The Annapolis Color Run, held by the Inner West Street Association and Annapolis Arts District, was meant to unite several neighborhoods of Annapolis. The fun run featured six color stations, where runners could be doused with watered-down acrylic paints, creating a rainbow of color on their white shirts by the end of a five-kilometer race.

Mayoral candidate Gavin Buckley helped organize the event, which he said wasn't a part of his campaign. At the start of the race, however, Buckley's campaign was mentioned.

The event was sold out, with more than 500 runners participating. Ticket sales were capped at 300, and organizers said they gave out free tickets to children, police and fire department members as well.

Lendor missed his chance to purchase a ticket, and decided to volunteer.

The event was a great way to get kids involved in fitness and engaged with their community, he said.

The run took Annapolis residents, as well as visitors from out of town, past landmarks like the Boys & Girls Club at Wiley H. Bates Heritage Center, and through neighborhoods including Murray Hill and Clay Street. The run circled the city's arts district, and ended at Clay and Calvert streets, where the First Sunday Arts Festival was taking place.

The goal, Buckley said, was to get people out and running with their neighbors, as well as to get people running in different areas of the city.

Along Clay Street Sunday resident Mary Jennings sat in a chair near her home and watched the runners pass. She didn't know about the event in advance, she said, but was happy to see it.

"It looks like a rainbow running up the street," she said.

There were a few hiccups at Sunday's event. Some runners went off course and Buckley missed the start of the race at 9 a.m. He was still helping set up volunteers along the course, he said.

The start of the race was announced by Max Huber, who said he is a booster for Buckley's campaign. Huber mentioned Buckley as an organizer, and told the crowd Buckley is running for mayor.

Buckley said after the race that Huber shouldn't have mentioned his candidacy.

"I was really careful not to do that, and I'm sorry, that was not supposed to happen," he said.

Runners also didn't strictly stick to the sidewalks, as they were supposed to — Police Chief Scott Baker, who ran in the event, said they'll re-evaluate the rules for next year. The people who came out for the run were having a lot of fun, he noted.

At the finish line runners covered in watery paint picked up medals and small cups of water.

Janai Gillin of Severna Park said the event was her first color run.

"The course was perfect," she said.

She did however say she wishes the event used powdered paint, rather than the watered-down acrylics shot from water guns. Organizers initially proposed using powdered paint, which is typically used in other color run events.

The city, however, raised health and fire safety concerns about the powdered paints, so liquid paint was used instead.

Julia Kustusch of Annapolis and Jill Spring of Washington, D.C., were among the first finishers at the race. Both said they enjoyed the event.

"It was a good course, it was fast," Spring said.

Buckley said he is interested in hearing feedback from runners about the event. He also sees room to grow.

"We hope it becomes a bigger event next year," he said.

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