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Posted on Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 11:14 a.m.

Color Run bringing explosions of color - and thousands of participants - to Ypsilanti

By Jenn McKee


The Seattle Color Run

photo by Nya McGinnis | courtesy of the Color Run

Thousands of people will be walking around Ypsilanti this Sunday looking like human rainbows.

Why? Because the Color Run—a 5k fun run in which volunteers, sponsors and staff shower participants with brightly colored dust at each kilometer mark—is coming to town.

Though the first-ever Color Run happened in Tempe, Arizona in January, the event has already garnered a cult following, earning a quarter of a million “likes” on Facebook in a short time, and expanding this year’s originally planned 18-city tour to a 44-city tour.

“As the events caught fire, and more and more people found out about it, we got requests from other cities,” said Jackson Cozzens, who handles the Color Run’s public relations.

Given the event’s meteoric rise in popularity, it should come as no surprise that registration for the Ypsilanti Color Run has been closed for some time now—despite the fact that 2,000 runners will be released every 10 minutes, starting at 8 a.m., with the final “wave” leaving at 9:20 a.m.

That’s 16,000 runners, for those who are counting.

Why does Cozzens think the race has caught on in such a huge way, and so quickly?


The Color Run

  • What: A 5k run in which participants in plain white T-shirts, when they hit each kilometer Color Run zone, are blitzed by volunteers, sponsors and staff with color dust (1k is yellow, 2k is blue, 3k is green, 4k is pink, and 5k is a “color extravaganza”). Several local charitable organizations will benefit from the event, which is sold out.
  • Where: Race Village is at Riverside Park, with the starting line on Cross Street in Depot Town. A map of the course is on the Color Run website.
  • When: Sunday, July 22. The first wave of 2,000 runners will start at 8 a.m., with additional waves taking off every 10 minutes until the last wave starts at 9:20 a.m.
  • How much: Registration for Ypsi’s Color Run is closed, but you can join the VIP List to be notified if/when additional spots are opened up, or you can volunteer. For more information, see the Color Run website.
“One of our little taglines is that it’s the happiest little 5k on the planet, and it really is,” said Cozzens. “It’s healthy, you’ve got endorphins going from the run, there’s music, it’s colorful, and it’s beautiful. It’s so aesthetically pleasing. … By the end, everyone has huge smiles on their faces.”

Each run benefits local nonprofits. The Ypsilanti run will aid The Michigan Elvisfest, The Ypsilanti Area Jaycees, Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels and SOS Community Services.

Color Run founder Travis Snyder, who has 10 years experience planning races and triathlons, was inspired by festivals in India that shower people with colored dust. (According to its FAQ page, the Color Run's dust is "basically food grade cornstarch and are 100% natural and safe.") In addition, he wanted to create a fun, noncompetitive event (the Color Run is untimed) in which all kinds of people could participate.

“My parents came out to the run in San Francisco, to see what it was all about,” said Cozzens. “At their hotel, … they saw this whole family—a mom, a dad and their kids—getting ready to run the race.”

So everyone from walkers and kids to experienced runners will be sporting a white shirt at the starting line on Sunday, ready to be doused in one color at each kilometer mark, and then a fury of colors at the finish.

The Color Run’s website offers visitors the chance to sign up as a VIP, and be notified if any spots open up; but otherwise, you can either show up to watch the race on Sunday, or wait until next year.

“We’re not planning on taking away any locations,” said Cozzens. “We’re going to keep going, and keep adding on.”


The Atlanta Color Run

photo by Brian Hall | courtesy of the Color Run

Jenn McKee is the entertainment digital journalist for Reach her at or 734-623-2546, and follow her on Twitter @jennmckee.


Lynda Hummel

Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 5:46 p.m.

If I had to guess, I would think the Dept. of Public Works/Public Safety staffing for that large of an event the day after the Art Fair closed would be a determining factor why AA would chose not to host the event. And of course construction road EVERYWHERE!


Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 11:09 a.m.

The Color Run was initially advertised as being in Ann Arbor back when registration opened. I wonder why it was changed to Ypsilanti?


Wed, Jul 18, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

how many churches cut off from worship that morning? how much money do the local folks (who are paid by the volunteer they supply to the event) actually get? I heard that it wasn't all that much. how was the route decided? why did it move from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti? what motivated the City staff to be so friendly to this event while so hard on other events? - there is a story with this one.

Citizen Al

Wed, Jul 18, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

I support runs like this and wish there were more. Fully support money going to organizations like SOS. If I might register my only criticism, which is the stepchild-like treatment that Ypsilanti continues to receive. This event is in Ypsilanti, but unfortunately the organizers are advertising it as the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Color Run with pictures of downtown Ann Arbor in the background of the online registration packet. Local and national organizers need to know (maybe the Ypsi DDA or convention bureau should police this) that it is OKAY to have an event in Ypsilanti and call it the "Ypsilanti this..." or the "Ypsilanti that.." or the "Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor..." REALLY, it is OKAY! It is not okay to have on your website things like "Download your Ann Arbor Pre-race Docs here." And please, provide pictures of both cities or more appropriately the host city. It's only respectful and an application of common sense.


Wed, Jul 18, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

Sounds great, there's nothing I like more than inhaling dust while running.


Wed, Jul 18, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

what a wonderful fun event! I'm no runner....but I can walk....I hope they do this next year, I'd love to try a 5K and celebrate with colors!!! Yay Ypsi! Another fun event! (I'm from A2, but love Ypsi too). Looking forward to this. I can't believe I would actually look forward to a sporting event, but this is too cool to pass up!


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 9:47 p.m.

The fact that people are griping about a 5k just goes to show how many people NEED a happy little 5k in their lives. As far as it being listed as "Ann Arbor" it was originally planned for Ann Arbor but with all the participants it made sense to move it to Ypsi. Good grief, people... lighten the heck up!


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 9:05 p.m.

Since the event obviously has not the *slightest* connection to Ann Arbor, it's too bad they felt it necessary to throw Ann Arbor's name into the even title, and even list "Ann Arbor" first. What a fun thing for Ypsi, and 16K people taking part, plus the additional volunteers, spectators, organizers, etc., will hopefully be a huge boost for the city's restaurants. Maybe next year the organizers will leave "Ann Arbor" out of it.


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 9:11 p.m.

"event" title....

Jenn McKee

Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 5:49 p.m.

Here's a link to the Color Run's route in Ypsilanti: Also, the run collaborates with sponsors and local charities at each stop; from the Color Run's site, "Our 2012 Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Charity Partners are The Michigan Elvis Fest, The Ypsilanti Area Jaycees, Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels and SOS Community Services."


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

Looks fun! I've heard about these, and I saw the Seattle one going on, but I didn't realize they passed along the dollars to local nonprofits. I hope they work to get the word out so people who have to get from point A to point B that day don't get their undies in a bunch like some of the commentators from above. I think I'm qualified to say that, because I've been one of those annoyed people who got caught in traffic for things like these that I didn't even know were going on.


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

My grandson and I will be doing an aggressive stroll in the Color Run...even though he has run in a number of events...these old gramma legs don't run anymore...I live downtown a2 so I know about streets being closed off, I gripe and moan about it...nonetheless, you adapt and re-configure your route or do what I do...stay home til it's over...


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

I love when people complain about 16,000 people donating $$ if it means closing a few blocks on a Sunday morning. Love it. It's not like you'll be out on the town anyway... just sit back and enjoy your couch tour.

Jake C

Wed, Jul 18, 2012 : 5:07 a.m.

Michigan Stadium = 0.5 square mile area. Stadium population = 110,000+ people. 220,000 people per square mile. No sir I don't like it, that's way too many people to fit into such a small area, it's impossible! 3556 is also way too many people for a random Sunday morning in Ypsilanti.

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 6:24 p.m.

ok, you win. still... city of ypsilanti = 4.5 sq.miles (via internet search) 16,000/4.5sq.miles = 3556 people per square mile nope, not gonna do it.


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 6:18 p.m.

Um... the run is a 5k (3.1 mi). Maybe, that is what you are thinking of? 3 linear miles around depot town... Trust me, the city streets within a 3 mile radius will not be closed. There will be parking in the neighborhoods near the event, at EMU, etc etc.

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 6:11 p.m.

"...closing a few blocks on a Sunday morning" it's not just a few blocks and not just a sunday morning. reports (or information) from the city of ypsilanti have said a radius of 3 miles from depot town. now, how many square miles is the city? and this goes on to early afternoon. city of ypsilanti = 4.5 sq.miles (via internet search) 3 mile radius = 28.26 sq.miles (do the math) means 567 to 3556 people per square mile (depending on which sq.ft above you believe) equals too many darn people per square mile for me, either way. stay home and stay away. i will gladly stay away from ypsilanti for that time period.


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.

What? Do you like to just "shout" random things on the internet? Or, did you actually mean something by your comment?

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.


dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

not to mention the disruption to the city. know how many blocks are being closed CLOSED off?


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 4:15 p.m.

Don't we have enough of these Non Events! "noncompetitive event (the Color Run is untimed) in which all kinds of people could participate"

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 3:54 p.m.

for real? smh