LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Three, two, one and they were off to take part in Lakewood Ranch's first Color Vibe 5K fun run, a once-in-a-lifetime experience of running, walking, jogging, skipping and strolling drenched in color from head to toe.
Thanks to a large social media push on Facebook and lots of national attention about this increasingly popular exercise trend, more than 4,000 people of all ages traveled from up and down the Gulf Coast to arrive early at the Premier Sports Campus, just in time to get psyched for the hoopla of color and craziness that was part of this non-competitive, 3.1-mile event.
Wearing everything from shorts, warm-ups and tutus resembling ballerinas, to head gear, sunglasses, and scarves to protect their faces, the pumped-up crowd of runners and non-runners alike doused themselves with dye packs, while a disc jockey and a congo line of super hero look-alikes got everyone in the mood to celebrate and exercise at the same time.
Color Vibe is intended to promote fitness while hav
ing fun and enjoying the chance to socialize with friends and family.
Since there were so many participants, the race began in five-minute waves of people who submitted to being doused along the way with green, purple, pink and blue cornstarch-based color that many hoped would wash off their skin and hair in time for Easter Sunday,
Linnie Echols, of Ruskin, traveled all the way from Georgia to bring her three grandchildren to Color Vibe and managed to keep it a secret until the night before.
"They didn't know about it until I gave them the dye packs last night, and they're thrilled we could get it in this weekend," said Echols, who was, by far, the coolest grandparent at Color Vibe.
Nine-months-pregnant Michelle Cordoba was a good sport who accompanied her husband, Julio, and other local Marines from a Wounded Warriors' group to Color Vibe. "My baby is fine, but my truck is already packed and ready to go just in case," said Cordoba, who is also a marine who served in Iraq along with her husband.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast was chosen to partner with Color Vibe, and a portion of the proceeds from the Lakewood Ranch event was donated to the charity, which provides one-to-one adult mentoring for children ages 6-18 from Bradenton south to Naples.
"This is an amazing turnout, and I hope more of our mentors and children take part next year," said Loren Mayo, events coordinator for the chapter.
Colleen Reed, a Lakewood Ranch resident who owns a shredding company, was happily stationed at the finish line with her "little sister", 9-year-old Rzya Sosa, whom she's been mentoring for about three years. While the little girl was busy having a blast throwing the final douse of color on the participants, Reed said this was the first weekend they spent together.
"She was so looking forward to it, and I love it. This is how I want to spend my time with her, having fun."
After it was over, the sports campus turned into a large after-party with entertainment, music and refreshments for everyone who took part.
"You are the canvas, and when you're finished with this 5K run, you'll be an exciting and vivid masterpiece," states the Color Vibe motto, and that certainly was the case, along with a rainbow of colors that lit up the field after it was all over.
Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.