Curtis Claar and Michael Pharis have paced the sidelines long enough.
The entrepreneurial-minded go-getters have watched as national corporations rolled into town on 18-wheelers, opened their trailers and created profitable, themed running events ... the Color Run, Color Me Rad, the Glow Run. The list goes on.
That's not the problem. Nobody is knocking the creativity of these American businesses. The problem is this: They take truckloads of money with them when they leave, money that could have remained in the local economy, or in the strained bank accounts of local nonprofit organizations.
Claar and Pharis want some of that action. They've created the Get Me Some Color 5K, set for Aug. 22 at the Colorado Springs Flea Market on East Platte Avenue.
"Every time we would see these big numbers from other color events roll in, Pharis and I would look at each other and say, 'What's with that?'" Claar says.
The duo have forged a place for themselves in the running community. Claar started Bigwig Races in 2011, and this year will produce three running events in Colorado Springs. His Hams and Hamstring race on Easter Sunday has become a tradition. When he isn't working at a race, Claar can often be found dreamily jogging along in the back of the pack.
Pharis owns Leave Your Mark Events, which has become the go-to company for racing event support. He created the Chasing Santa 5K, a themed event that doubled in size last year. He stays busy nearly every weekend, pulling a flatbed trailer stacked with race tents, tables, drink coolers, and an inflatable arch for the starting line. He's often the first to arrive at running races and the last to leave.
But their greatest contribution? They're local. And they love our community. They're also for-profit, but willing to share.
The Get Me Some Color 5K plan calls for Colorado Springs-area businesses to help produce the show. One exception will be the purchase of the actual color, dyed cornstarch, which will be supplied by a company in Wheat Ridge.
To their credit, big companies do make contributions to the communities they visit. In 2013 Color Me Rad kicked in $5,162 to Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation community centers. What was Color Me Rad's take? Do the math. More than 2,000 participants paid about $40 each, or more, to participate, and they purchased the race merchandise, clothing, head bands, water bottles, sun glasses and additional packets of color.
Cost to enter the Get Me Some Color 5K is $49, but there are big discounts advertised on the event website, getmesomecolor5K.com.
"I'm all for big organizations coming to town to do business," Pharis says. "But they need to take care of the town they come to. We haven't had a chance to experience that very much or very often."
In its inaugural year, Claar said his event will donate 50 race entries to CheerNova, an organization that teaches technical cheerleading skills, which can sell the entries and keep the money.
"It'll help kids get to cheer camps and competitions," Claar says. "It's not like donating to cancer research, but we'll still touch a lot of lives."
So what will the Get Me Some Color 5K look like? Think party atmosphere with loud music and high energy. The running portion is broken up by color bombing areas that will look like World War III, Claar says. Participants usually dress in white, then douse one another with bright color. It all makes for great photos, and plenty of laughs. And though running may be involved, it isn't necessary.
From the event website, getmesomecolor5K.com: We say it's a "race" but don't let that scare you. We just want you to get off the couch and have some fun.
The color fad may be fading nationally as new gimmicks come on board. But Claar is hopeful that a customer base of teenagers, younger kids and their parents will create a viable market.
And they may take their event on the road, just like the big companies. Claar says he has already received inquiries from as far away as Florida.
"Maybe we can be a traveling road show that goes to other states and brings half a million dollars back here," he says.
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Amazing story of some amazing groups of people who care. Well done.