Colorful turnout for inaugural relay

LIHUE — The response to the first Color Relay event on Kauai was beyond the expectations of Mary Lardizabal.

The director of the Kapaa Middle School Choir and Ukulele Band was floored by the turnout for the fundraising run even before the race started on Saturday.

“We have more than 600 participants,” the excited music director said of the race whose calling card is caking runners in colored powder. “We ran out of forms. We ran out of T-shirts. And people are still coming.”

Originally planned for 500 people, the first Color Relay drew people from all parts of the island, eager to participate in the event which has been gaining in popularity.

“This is the first time for the island,” said Jordan Shea of Waimea, his face caked with yellow powder. “There were so many people here.”

Ashley Mier, dressed as a ballerina, said the course was pretty and they will both be back for the next one.

The participants left the back parking lot of the Big Kmart store and hiked up Pikake Street to Nuhou Road, heading for the back nine of the Puakea Golf Course.

Working through five stations manned by volunteers from the Kapaa Middle School Choir and Ukulele Band, runners made their way along the roughly 5K course. Proceeds are going to the choir to help them fund a trip to California for a national competition.

“It wasn’t about the color,” said Selah Johnson’s mother. “Selah, 6, ran the entire course — her first 5K, ever!”

Bryson Taroma of Hanapepe was excited about the course, his face caked with blue power and an extended GoPro camera in hand.

“We were waiting for this for a long time,” Taroma said. “We had to be here. We heard there’s going to be another one in February, and we’re dressing up for that one.”

Heidi Herr and Krista Schnackenberg, both seniors at Kauai High School, said they were planning on doing a Color Run as a senior project, the proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society.

Schnackenberg, the top female cross country runner for Kauai High School, said she ran in the Oahu Color Run two weeks ago where there were more than 5,000 participants.

“The colors they used were more intense,” Schnackenberg said. “We were all brown by the time we finished.”

KimTamaoka, the community relations manager for the County’s Department of Water, said they arranged for a water buffalo at the end for participants to get water, and in cooperation with the Kauai Fire Department, provided the hosing down area.

“We couldn’t sleep all night,” Lardizabal said. “But now, everyone’s already planning on making the next one even better.”

Following the Color Relay, participants could participate in more activities, including Zumba, keiki activities and a holiday craft fair at the Kukui Grove Center.

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