GREENFIELD — After being the first to cross the finish line at the inaugural Color Run, Eric Kelly wore a streak of orange about his neck as proudly as he would have worn the winner’s medal, had there been one.
But the weekend charity event sponsored by Greenfield-Central’s Student Leadership Academy was all in good fun.
Eric, 17, went home Saturday with bragging rights and the knowledge he’d helped support the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hancock County.
Color runs, named for the signature colored cornstarch tossed toward runners who participate in them, have increased in popularity in recent years. Saturday, one group of SLA students brought the trend to Greenfield in hopes of providing a fitness opportunity for runners of all ages and skill levels.
About 50 people gathered on the Greenfield Youth Football League practice fields for a morning of colorful fun.
The 5K started on the football fields and wound its way through the woods in Mary Moore Park.
Eric, 17, is a member of both Greenfield-Central High School’s track and cross country teams, making him a natural on the 3.1-mile course.
“I wish they would have timed me,” he proclaimed after finishing in first place. “That was fun.”
For the experienced runner, the element of having colored cornstarch tossed into his path gave the run a unique twist – one he says actually bettered his time.
“I embraced it,” he said. “I was actually running into it a lot harder.”
The event was also marketed to families, which were invited to walk the course together. Among them were 10-year-old Erin Hodnett and her mother, Kris Hunt.
On New Year’s, Erin created a to-do list for the year. Topping it was participating in a color run with Mom.
“She thought it’d be fun, and we could do it together,” Hunt said.
Hunt said she and her daughter managed to run about half the course, despite the fact they aren’t experienced runners.
“I am not, but I guess for my kids, I am,” Hunt joked.
Sydney Sexton, 18, ran alongside her sister, Riley, 14.
The siblings run together for fun and decided the color run would serve as their workout for the day, Sexton said.
“We’ve always wanted to do one,” she said. “We decided it would be fun.”
Sexton said she managed to avoid getting too messy when passing the cornstarch-tossers stationed along the course, but she did finish with a smear of pink across her face.
Julie Stoeffler, mentor teacher for the SLA team that planned the event, said to save money, the group dyed its own cornstarch instead of buying it online. The process was fairly detailed, including mixing in the dye, baking the result and then crumbling it into powder for throwing.
Stoeffler gave the finished product a trial run on the family dog, who didn’t seem to mind and was appropriately colorful afterward.
“She’s a white dog, so it worked perfectly,” she said. “I did green and orange on her, so she was looking pretty festive.”