2013-03-29 / Front Page

Color Run approved

By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND — An international 5K road race that douses runners in colored powder and touts itself as “the happiest 5K on the planet” will stop in South Portland on Sunday, July 7 after it received city council approval.

Councilors initially postponed a vote on road closures for The Color Run because they had questions about the capacity of the Southern Maine Community College neighborhood, the cleanup of the race and the profit share between The Color Run and its charity partner, the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center.

City staff and representatives from both SMCC and the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital fielded those questions at a workshop on Monday, March 25, and provided councilors enough peace of mind to give the race the green light.

Matthew Parks, director of development for annual and special giving at Maine Medical Center, said he could not estimate the exact dollar amount the children’s hospital will receive, but it will take in a percentage of funds raised, as well as additional money through community sponsorships. Parks added that race organizers for The Color Run have been up front, positive and honest over two months of discussions.

“They are the real deal. They are really wonderful partners, and they are looking forward to bringing this event not just one time, but for many years to South Portland,” Parks said.

“We were looking for a signature event and we think we found it,” he added.

Deirdre Banks, development manager at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, said charitable support is essential for the hospital to allow it to achieve its mission to provide care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.

The council will approve the road closures the race needs to complete its route through SMCC into the Willard Square neighborhood, but it did recommend some restrictions to protect neighborhood residents.

The number of registrants will be capped at 5,000, the minimum number The Color Run needs to add a location. Additionally, the council recommended the race start early in the morning, at 8 a.m., in an attempt to reduce congestion on the busy Fourth of July weekend.

“I think you’ve got some really tight intersections, but with proper planning and supervision and a heavy number of volunteers you’ll be OK,” said Mayor Tom Blake.

On the Sunday of the race, parts of Benjamin Pickett Road, Surfsite Road, Preble Street, Summit Street, Smith Street and Fort Road will be closed. Jessica Hanscombe of the city clerk’s office said the road closures are necessary to ensure the rainbow-colored runners avoid Bug Light, Willard Square and the Greenbelt.

City Manager Jim Gailey and Parks and Recreation Director Rick Towle both said the race route will be better served by staying on the street, both to avoid the colored corn starch powder getting into the parks and to ease congestion by keeping the runners separate from the families visiting the parks on the holiday weekend.

Councilors approved the race despite an antiquated ordinance on the city’s books that forbids residents from congregating before noon on Sunday “for the purpose of playing any game or indulging in any sport exercise or recreation.” Gailey said staff will bring the ordinance to council for removal sometime in April.

Registration fees and dates will be available through The Color Run’s website at thecolorrun.com. In other cities, the fees range from $35 to $50. Color Run Race Director Seth King was not available for comment.

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