When a good Wichita cause needs a helping hand, the Wichita running community answers the bell.
Especially, it appears, when they can get soaked with dye in the process.
About 1,300 runners turned out for the Gnarly Neon 5K Saturday morning, a color run sponsored by Mobile GameDen to benefit the Wichita Children’s Home.
It was a cold morning, but runners showed up in costume and in white to benefit the charity — and get soaked with dye as they ran, a little added benefit.
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“It’s important for me,” said Ashley Saenz, who was running her first road race. “When my Mom was little, she lived at the Wichita Children’s Home and it was her home for awhile before she was adopted.”
The home played a major role in her mother’s life, Saenz said.
“It was important,” she said, before chuckling. “It kept her out of trouble.”
Another runner, Mary Ann May, came out because of the children’s home.
“In my younger days, I worked in a children’s home and I know how important they are,” May said.
Organizers were thrilled with the response to the race, a color run — for the dye that’s thrown on runners during the race — that’s part of a larger West Coast series.
“The response has just been great,” said Cris Brines, one of the organizers. “They’re really excited about it and we’re really excited about it. It’s a great time, it benefits an awesome charity and it’s a lot of fun for us to put it on.
“And besides, people love getting dirty and there’s no better way to get dirty than the color run.”
The Wichita color run, which trumpets itself as “America’s funnest 5K,” is part of a national series scheduled this year. Other races are set for Redding, Visalia and Bakersfield, Calif., and Des Moines.
For other runners, the chilly race was a time to have some fun.
John and JoAnn Craighead came out wearing white capes with some church friends to “get messed up.”
The race was JoAnn’s first, she said, but she’s no stranger to running.
“Our son was in cross country and I used to run around the field chasing him,” she said. “I thought it was a great sport. Parents got some exercise.”
John Craighead’s cap had the figure 500 written on it, and the back of his cape was a target with point values.
“Give them something to throw the dye at,” he said, laughing. “Head shots count the most.”
San Francisco 49ers fan Josh Anderson was wearing his team’s colors, as he waited for the race with his son Josh Jr., 13.
“It’s a little chilly,” he said. “I like hot weather. I’d rather run in hot weather.”
The Andersons were curious about the dye.
“I’ve never gotten stuff thrown on me while running,” Anderson said.
May came out sporting a pink shower cap — with a good reason.
“I just got my hair done Wednesday night and it cost way too much to ruin,” she said, chuckling. “There’s a little blurb in their information that for light hair, the dye can potentially stain, so I am prepared.”
The turnout made her proud.
“You know, almost all of these races are for something,” she said. “You get out and the running community in Wichita is just awesome. They always show up in droves, and you get to do something you love and your money goes for something important.”