On August 24, 2013 runners dressed in white will take off from Riverside Park in Presque Isle, Maine for the Color Presque Isle 5K - a 'County style' color run where participants dress all in white and have colored powder tossed at them throughout a course. The run combines fun, fitness, and the arts to benefit the Northern Maine Center for the Cultural Arts.

Over the past couple of weeks my Facebook feed has featured bursts of excitement from those who plan on participating in the 5K, my wife included. Now, I know what a 5K is, but what's all this stuff about coloring Presque Isle?

Here's an example of what one of these events looks like:

The event flyer floating around the web shows people dressed in white showering themselves in a beautiful array of colored powder. My first thought was "man, that looks like fun!" But then I thought "what's with the powder? Why not something else? Like high powered paintball guns?" There's nothing like the sting of a paintball to the throat that brings out the athlete in all of us...

Turns out the use of colored powder as part of a celebration is done by many humans all around the world- at events, during holidays and religious celebrations. The colored powder is inspired by the Hindu annual spring festival called, Holi

Holi celebrates the beginning of a new season and is a festival that commemorates good harvests and fertile land. A large bonfire burns during the celebration while colored powder is thrown in all directions.

Traditional colors are created using, Abir. You can purchase either natural or synthetic forms of Abir. The natural form colors are derived from flower extracts, such as aparajita, marigold, hibiscus and dopati. The dye is sometimes combined with mica powder to create a sparkling effect.

The synthetic colors have been found to have not-so-desirable side effects. Especially on sweaty 5K skin...

Fear not! According to the Color Presque Isle 5K signup sheet, the powder is cornstarch-based. It's non-toxic and non-allergenic. Are you sensitive to being 'rainbowed' in the face? If so, it's suggested you wear goggles and perhaps a bandana.

If you're playing by 'Holi rules' there's a significance to the colors:

  • Red - Purity
  • Green - Vitality
  • Blue - Calm and sedateness
  • Yellow - Pious feeling
Besides the spectacle of color, the race isn't timed. You make your way through the course on your own accord. A course map will be available at registration. You must register for the event and all children under 18 must have a parent or legal guardian sign a consent form.
The Color Presque Isle 5K is not affiliated with any color run organizations.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Northern Maine Center for the Cultural Arts. A major project to establish the region's very first facility dedicated to the visual arts.
Color Presque Isle 5K
August 24, 2013 - 9:00am
Riverside Park, Presque Isle, ME
For more information and to become involved with the Color Presque Isle 5K, here are a few handy links:
Don't forget to wear white! And if you snag any sweet photos, feel free to share them with us on Facebook!