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Kids were covered in clouds of color at Tualatin's Kaleidoscope Run

Last week, the city's youth celebrated the start of summer with the second run of its kind in so many years

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Runners make their way through the gauntlet of Tualatin's Kaleidoscope Run. A dust cloud of color bursts over the lawn at Ibach Park in Tualatin and laughter follows it into the sky. One friend slaps a pink handprint onto the back of another, and she runs away to avoid retaliation before returning to her post, poised and ready to do the same to the group of approaching runners.

The leaders of the pack run up with bandanas over their mouths and sunglasses protecting their eyes, their white shirts doused in handfuls of colored powder. They keep running, covered head to toe in bright orange, pink, green and blue, and look around to compare their results to their peers’.

There are definitely worse ways to celebrate the beginning of summer.

“It’s fun and it’s active and it’s sunny out here!” said Sarah Bighouse, who will enter sixth grade at Horizon Christian next year.

Having just finished the Kaleidoscope Run, Sarah seemed pleased with the result of running nearly three miles all while having colored cornstarch mixtures being thrown at her.

“It sounded fun and I wanted to get colorful,” said her friend, 11-year-old Ella Bodle.TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Runners are doused with color at Tualatin's Kaleidoscope Run.

In its second year, Tualatin’s Kaleidoscope Run was put on by the city’s Youth Advisory Council and Teen Library Committee, both of which were on hand promoting the library’s summer reading programs. The run started last year after Tualatin’s previous start-of-summer tradition, an end of year carnival, began losing popularity. So local teens and advisors got together and brainstormed about how they could get sixth graders through high school seniors excited about one last shared activity before diving into summer break.

“We’d been doing a carnival-type event for the past five years and that one had kind of run its course so we were looking for something different to do,” said Julie Ludemann, recreation supervisor and YAC advisor. “Last year, the teens sent out a survey about what others would like: ‘Should we continue the carnival? Should we do a color run? A zombie run? You name it.’”

With the color run a clear winner, the student groups set about building a new tradition. And unlike most runs of its kind, the Kaleidoscope Run is completely free. White T-shirts were available for purchase, but runners were welcome to wear their own.

“That’s one of the things I really like about this event is anybody can participate,” said Ludemann. “To my knowledge, there really isn’t any other free color run 5K. It’s great to be able to offer that.”

And already, the event has seen growth. Ludemann hadn’t yet tallied the exact numbers, but said that last year’s run saw 75 participants while this year’s numbers were upwards of 100.

Meanwhile, there was one big change this year: the location. Last year, the run was held at Tualatin Community Park, and Ludemann said that the course was so short that it seemed the moment participants took off running, they were already back at the starting point. TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Masked runners are covered in color during Tualatin's Kaleidoscope Run.

“It was so fast. We were like ‘Go!’ and they were back in 10 minutes. Then we were like, ‘OK. Go and do it again!’” said Ludemann. “We moved to Ibach because it gave us more options for lengthening the route and still keeping it within the park.”

With the option of running three laps, each at just under one mile long, this year’s participants had plenty of opportunities to come in contact with the colorful, biodegradable, nontoxic powder. However, several strategies abounded regarding how to best get colorful.

“I was taking my time because I wanted to get the colors,” said Sam Roach, who will be a sixth-grader at Hazelbrook Middle School next year, a bright orange splotch erupting from his chest. But his friends and former classmates had a different approach.

“I was pretty ahead,” explained Cameron Peebles, 11.

“Yeah, me and him were like the top five,” said Jaime Villanueva, 11, a seemingly unnoticed blob of pink residing in his left ear. “Not really to win — we just wanted to get the colors. Because if you’re last, there’s a lot of people in the back.”

“We just ran!” Cameron added in between bites from the popsicle he was awarded after finishing the run.

Minutes later, random puffs of color were still erupting into the warm, summer air.TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Kids react after being bombarded with color at Tualatin's Kaleidoscope Run.


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