State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Color Run Helps Penn State 'Celebrate Life'

by on September 14, 2014 1:05 PM

Runners appeared out of clouds of colors like ghosts, silhouetted against plumes of pigment in the morning sun.

Their feet pounding the pavement on the Penn State campus in rhythm to music blasting from speakers along the course, over 10,000 runners took part in this year's Color Run. They looped around campus, passing through giant rings where volunteers blasted them with paint -- yellows, purples, pinks and blues.

Though the crowd stampeded away from the starting line dressed all in white, they were a living rainbow by the time they reached the course's end.

Pedro Pomales, a Penn State grad student in chemistry, had never run in a 5K before - in fact, Sunday's race was one of his first experiences in State College, having just moved from Puerto Rico a few months ago.

He was invited down by several other friends from Puerto Rico, who told him how much fun the race is. He wasn't sure what to expect, but he says that being able to run through his campus with his friends for an event like the Color Run was a great way to spend the day.

"I think that the name of this place says everything: Happy Valley," Pomales says. "And that's how you feel here - happy."

That's the goal of the Color Run, which bills itself as the "happiest 5k on the planet." Though many of the runners had never particpated in the global, touring event before, a lot of them said the sense of manic energy was familiar to this area.

"It's great here, I love it. It's like being at a Penn State football game," Altoona resident Lisa Strohman says. "Everyone is in a good mood, and is very excited. There's lots of energy."

Runner Madison Wadlinger says that, unlike most 5K races she does, the Color Run didn't make her nervous at all. Instead of worrying about making a particular time, she was able to enjoy the campus and the energy of those around her. She may not have had a goal, but her boyfriend beside her, Tanner Swaler, says he did: "I just want to get as much color on me as possible."

Lucky for Swaler, this was a goal easily achieved. Clouds of color billowed up from the ground like smoke at each of the stations set up along the course, dousing everything nearby in vivid shades of paint.

For Boalsburg resident Dianne Plummer, the day made her feel "rejuvenated." 

"It's such a beautiful day and everyone is here for a common cause: to celebrate life," she says.

Photo Gallery - Color Run 2014

Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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