The first-ever Arctic Blast Color Dash is being called a success. The event was held Saturday in the hills behind the Country Village in Ishpeming.
Three hundred people from across the Upper Peninsula, Lower Peninsula, Wisconsin, and Minnesota ran through the five-kilometer course. Most strapped on snowshoes, others stuck with winter boots.
No matter what they were wearing, participants were very colorful at the end. Five hundred pounds of corn starch-based powder was doused on runners, turning their white t-shirts and faces into a colorful, fun mess.
The Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce planned the event in about two months, according to Elizabeth Peterson, Executive Director of the GINCC.
"It made for a shorter amount of preparation time, but we made it work," said Peterson.
Peterson was thrilled with Saturday's turnout.
"We had originally hoped for 150, but truthfully, if we had hit 100, I think we would have been happy," she said.
Peterson was worried about how people would react to the powder. They had to order 100 extra pounds at the last minute.
"I was really nervous as to how it would stick to the clothing and what people would think of it," she recalled. "Would it be gross? That type of thing, and I was really impressed with the way that it worked and how people embraced it and just ran in it and filled themselves up with the color, and it was really fun!"
Before the bigger dash, a one-kilometer event was held for kids. The powder blasts might have caught them off-guard, said Peterson.
"The kids all lined up, they were super excited, and we blasted them with powder as they started, and they all just kind of stopped," she said. "I think it was a shock! As they continued on and crossed the finish line, you could tell they were excited, but it was really fun to watch."
Color runs are a current trend across the United States.
"There's been a lot of color runs around the country, but I have never found one that was actually done in the snow," Peterson said.
The snow added a great element for runner Matt Brownell.
"Oh, the white snow, it makes it so beautiful, the colors going out. It's a great time," said Brownell. "This is my very first snowshoe race, first color run."
Brownell finished the course first in about 30 minutes. No official times were recorded, though. Event planners created an atmosphere attracting a variety of people.
"Take a minute and do a cartwheel through a color station and just have fun, and I think that it really did change the feel of the event," Peterson said.
Participants paid $25-$40 to take part on Saturday.
"We had five area non-profits run our color stations, and all five of them will be receiving some of the profits from this race," Peterson said.
The organizations that will receive funds are: the YMCA of Marquette County, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Bell Hospital's Strength From Within, Love, Inc, and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. In all, 100 volunteers helped out.
The event also brought a crowd of people to Western Marquette County.
"Which is exactly why we do these kind of events, to show people, hey, look what our community has. Come check something out and stay a while and visit our businesses and play here and then come back another time, because I think once people come here, they make it a regular stop because it is such a great place," Peterson said.
Peterson described the event as "almost magical."
"It was just beautiful to see all the color and everybody laughing," she said. "My favorite thing was that it was families, you know, you had a mom and a dad and their three kids, and they all did it together and crossed the finish line together, and it was just really neat."
Peterson said they hope to plan a second Arctic Blast next year.
"I don't see why we wouldn't," she said.