Maryland's First Color Run a Success

Leaf blowers spat colorful powdered chalk at runners as they left the start line of the Color My College 5K race Sunday afternoon, dyeing their clothes in the name of school spirit.

"Nobody does this," event director Tonya Schuler said. "They have all these color runs across the country and nobody goes to schools and uses schools' colors and we thought that was a really cool and fun thing to do."

A Charleston, West Virginia-based company, Color My College started this year when Schuler and her husband decided to pack "a hole that wasn't being filled" with their idea inspired by previous running experiences. Instead of throwing every color of the rainbow along the race route, volunteers threw red, white, black and gold, the University of Maryland's school colors.

With quotes like "with this being a fun run, you can run, walk, crawl, twerk, or whatever you feel like throughout the race" on the Color My College website, the group certainly gives the impression of catering to a younger crowd, but that certainly didn't mean only students ran. Of the 200 or so registered runners, Schuler said there was a "good mix" of students, faculty, alumni, and people from the community.

Freshman Natalia Jaffee, an environmental science and policy major, commented on how she was looking forward to doing the race with her friends but was skeptical because she was "still a little full from breakfast."

Maryland's Color <y College race marked the company's third event ever. East Carolina University and West Virigina University held their version of the event in October. Although Maryland serves as the end of their fall schedule, Color My College is hopeful that spring might bring new events as schools like Ole Miss, Auburn, and Marshall Universities.

"We actually scoped out Maryland as one of our schools early on," Schuler said. "We were really excited for this school to have four colors because that's very unusual."

Like with all their races, Color My College raised money for a good cause. The Keep Me Maryland Scholarship Fund, "an emergency fund created to assist students at risk of leaving school due to financial hardship," has helped around 450 students since its inception in 2008. A portion of the $30 registration price benefits philanthropic causes like Keep Me Maryland, Operation Smile at ECU, or the Student Veterans Association at WVU.

However, this is the company's first experience working directly with the university.

"As soon as Maryland says they want us to come, we were like 'Absolutely, whatever we need to do,'" Schuler said. "They've been great in helping us, doing a lot of marketing and getting word out about this event.

The afternoon started off with what Schuler refers to as a pre-party. DJ Reece umped up participants before a Zumba warm-up. The first wave of runners left the start line promptly at 1:30 pm while Kane and Intern John from Hot 99.5's Kane Show set up from the after party. There were pushup, dance-off, and lip-syncing contests as well as color throws and an Xbox One giveaway.


"I'm a little sore," Neha Agarwal, a telecommunications engneeineering master's student, said after finishing the race, "but it was a lot of fun."

"The thing that excites us most is that the whole thing behind Color My College is every person that comes has a blast," Schuler said. "Every person that comes leaves with a smile on their and that makes us happy. So even if we're still plugging along, trying to get our name out there, if we can send everybody home with a smile on their face and color in their teeth, then I think we're doing a good job."