By Bob Jackson
The coughing and gasping Morgan Scaife did as she ran downtown Saturday morning certainly wasn’t because she was out of shape.
It was because she and other runners were getting pelted with packets of colored powder as they ran, leaving them looking like running rainbows as they moved through clouds of colors.
“Oh my god, I was hacking up a storm at one point,” said a smiling Scaife. The 21-year-old from West Middlesex, Pa., had just completed the first Color Run in Youngstown.
She ran with her friend, 25-year-old Natalie Hruska of Hermitage, Pa.
The Color Run is an event in cities all over the United States, said spokeswoman Sophie Weichers of Salt Lake City, which is the home of the Color Run.
This is the first time the event has come to Youngstown.
“We’ve done it in other cities in Ohio, and the people here love it,” said Weichers. “So we decided to reach out and see what other cities would respond.”
The response from Youngstown was overwhelming, with more than 6,000 runners signing up.
“It’s a very positive outcome for our first time here,” Weichers said.
“We will definitely be back.”
It’s called the Color Run because runners, who are encouraged to wear white, are showered with packets of colored powder and with liquid, paint-like colors, both before and during the run. Of course, it’s all in fun, and the smiles on the faces of the runners showed it.
“We had a blast,” said Hruska.
“We heard about this run and how much fun it is. And we both like to run; we do a lot of 5Ks, so that’s why we came.”
There was a party atmosphere outside the Covelli Centre, which was the starting and finishing point for the run.
There was music blaring, and prizes were being tossed out into the crowd of participants.
Since it’s not actually a race, there were no official times kept and there were no actual winners.
The emphasis is on healthiness, happiness and individuality, Weichers said.
“I like that it’s more about finishing and having fun,” said Christina Pallo, 41, of Boardman, who took part with her children, 11-year-old Delaney and 8-year-old Jack.
They participated in a similar event in April at the Canfield Fairgrounds and loved it, so decided to join in Saturday’s fun.
“Jack had a bucket [of paint] dumped on his head at the last one, so he’s hoping that will happen again today,” Pallo said, laughing.
The Color Run is a family-oriented event, so there were plenty of parents covering the course with their children.
Among them was Chad Ellenberger, 32, of Boardman, who ran with his wife, Amanda, who is 20 weeks pregnant with their fourth child. Their three children, Brooke, 12, Kendall, 8, and Teagan, who just turned 6, joined in the colorful fun.
“It’s just something fun, and it’s for a good charity,” said Ellenberger.
“We all had a good time.”
The charity was Akron Children’s Hospital of the Mahoning Valley, which receives a portion of the proceeds from the event.
Ellenberger said he and his wife take their children to Akron Children’s in Boardman for medical treatment, so they were happy to help with the cause.
Jonathan Richmond, 19, of Youngstown, and Megan Monte, 21, of North Canton, are both members of the track teams at Youngstown State University, and said they enjoyed the run, even while getting covered in colors.
“All I wanted was to get all colored up, and I got it,” said Monte.