Courtesy of Dan McGee

The fourth annual San Luis Obispo Color Blast Fun Run will take place April 8 at the San Luis Obispo High School stadium. The 5k run and walk is part of a growing trend of color runs: The audience throws colored powder made of cornstarch at the runners throughout the race. And at the end the event, both runners and audience join together on the field to throw powder.

Half of the proceeds from the run will go to Alex Maier Memorial Fund and Scholarship Program, which was created in honor of San Luis Obispo High School student and soccer player Alex Maier who died in a car crash in 2013. The other half will go to Black and Gold, a booster program that supports “Academics, Achievements, Activities and the Arts at San Luis Obispo High School,” according to the group’s Facebook page.

Dan McGee, one of the event’s cofounders, said the run was first proposed by Alex’s sister, Leah Maier, after his death. Leah brought the idea to her parents, Gary and Deborah Maier, who then worked with McGee and his wife, Samantha Caldwell, to create the memorial fund and organize the run.

“We thought maybe it would be an event, you know, kind of to celebrate loved ones that got lost,” McGee said. “We thought it would just be a small run, local, but I guess these color runs are kind of getting popular, and it was pretty huge. We had like 2,000 people that first year.”

McGee said the run has diminished in size since then, but that 800 to 1,000 people are expected at this year’s event.

“The first year was kind of big, you know, because [Alex’s death] was kind of fresh in everybody’s mind,” McGee said. “But still people return back because the color run is really fun … we have this really big colorful blast at the end, kind of like a balloon fight with color. So it’s a lot of fun.”

McGee said that in the four years they’ve been hosting the event, they have raised funds to give more than 90 scholarships of $2,000 to $3,000 to students from San Luis Obispo High School, Arroyo Grande High School and Laguna Middle School.

This year, they also hope to promote a special message through the run.

“This year we’re actually focusing on the notion of the phrase ‘Choose Happy!’” McGee said. “It was kind of Alex’s motto … We’re really focusing on it this year because I think, you know, it’s really something we could promote at the high school and college in kids [that they] have a choice to be happy.”

Registration for the run begins at 8 a.m. and costs $40. There will also be a pre-race warm-up and entertainment at 9 a.m. Participants will begin the run at 10 a.m. and there will be an after-race celebration and prizes at 11 a.m. 

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