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'Color' Anchorage 5K runners a bright shade of stupid

Craig Medred
COMMENTARY: The Color Run is the best legal business scam since The Pet Rock. Anchorage should organize a weekly Color Fun Walk, Jog or Roll series in order to relieve more local fools of their money. Loren Holmes photo

Rainbows are good things. The Irish believed there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. And a company based in Salt Lake City came to Anchorage and proved the Irish were right.

The Color Run LLC (the LLC stands for 'limited liability company' for those who don't know) sprayed the foolish citizens of the north with rainbow-hued cornstarch and took home a pot-a-lot of their money.

How much?

Well, The Color Run -- which clearly prefers the color of money -- won't say.

But Dispatch reporter Laurel Andrews was able to cobble together some of the numbers, and they make it look like The Color Run is the best legal business scam since The Pet Rock.

Remember The Pet Rock of the 1970s? People professed to love them, sort of like they profess their love for The Color Run. The Pet Rock made a California advertising executive named Gary Dahl an estimated profit equivalent to $56 million in 2011 dollars.

Nationally, The Color Run, too, might now be in the millions. Let's do the math just for Anchorage, one of many of The Color Runs around the world:

  • Estimated gross receipts from entry fees equal $525,000, minimum.
  • Anchorage costs -- $34,000 rental for the Delaney Park Strip, $14,916 in fees for off-duty Anchorage police officers to police, and $8,000 for portable toilet rentals -- equal $56,916.
  • Anchorage charitable contributions equal $10,000, maximum.
  • So let's see, $525,000 minus $66,916 equals $458,084.

Oh wait, there was all that colored Indian Holi festival powder The Color Run imports in bulk to spray on people, plus a few T-shirts. Let's say it costs $100,000 to pull that all together and ship to Anchorage along with The Color Run organizers.

So, $458,084 minus $100,000 equals $358,084.

Somebody please tell Mayor Dan Sullivan and the Anchorage Assembly -- always in the market for new ways to make money in this town -- that the municipality should organize a Tuesday Night Color Fun Walk, Jog or Roll series to spray colored cornstarch on all the local fools looking to be relieved of their money.

They can't, obviously, call it a Color Run because that name is trademarked.

"The Color Run™, also known as the Happiest 5K on the Planet, is a unique paint race that celebrates healthiness, happiness, individuality, and giving back to the community," proclaims the company website.

Oh yeah!

But if you hunt around on the website, you will also find this:

"The Color Run™ is not a charity or non-profit organization. The Color Run, LLC is a 'for profit' event company."

No kidding. Is there a business out there that wouldn't like to see the sort of green The Color Run returns?

The copycats of the world have already taken notice, although they seem to lack the happy, happy, happy spin skills of The Color Run.

The "Color Me Rad" fun run in Syracuse, N.Y., got roasted by the media there because, as a headline in The Post Standard proclaimed, "Almost 90 percent of Color Me Rad money goes to Color Me Rad, not Special Olympics."

Leave it to some pesky journalist named Glenn Coin to make trouble. What the hell is the problem? As he himself reported, "the event took in approximately $250,000 in runner registrations; (and) Special Olympics will get about $30,000, or 12 percent."

That looks to be a heck of a good deal for the charity compared to what happened in Anchorage. So what's the problem?

"There's a sucker born every minute," as PT Barnum once did or didn't observe, and one established business model is to try to separate them from their money any way possible.

On that scale of measure, one has to admit The Color Run was a huge, huge success. People keep talking about all the "fun" they had. I just can't hardly wait till it comes back next year.

Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com

The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch. Alaska Dispatch welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, e-mail commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.