City and colour

Saturday, 17.08.2013 / 1:33 PM canadiens.com

MONTREAL – Being pelted with coloured powder while running a 5k race might not qualify as a typical weekend activity, but the 15,000 participants on hand at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on Saturday were out to soak up every last particle.

Returning to Parc Jean Drapeau after a successful inaugural event last October, the 2013 edition of The Color Run again featured runners of all ages and fitness levels. The event also joined forces with the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation for a second consecutive year. In addition to providing help and support to children in need, the Foundation has sought to encourage and foster a healthy and active lifestyle among youth.

“We see in Quebec that there seems to be a movement now. People are realizing that being active is [increasingly] important,” affirmed Genevieve Paquette, executive director of the Canadiens Children’s Foundation, who was pleased to see the outpouring of support for the event also known as the ‘Happiest 5k on the Planet’. “It’s fun to see how people respond to an event [like The Color Run] that’s very accessible. You don’t need to be a runner. You don’t need to train every day to participate. It’s accessible to any age level, any fitness level, and I think that really speaks to people.”

Participants worked their way through four different “colour zones” along the historic racetrack. The white T-shirts they’d sported to start the day were dusted one-by-one with orange, blue, yellow and pink powder at points throughout the course. Covered from head to toe in colour, there was no shortage of smiling faces. That’s exactly what Paquette was hoping for.

“There are a lot of young people that aren’t used to moving and being active. A statistic was recently released that said that 78 percent of kids, what they’re looking for in terms of physical activity, is to have fun. That’s what today is all about,” she explained. “The Color Run is a race that isn’t timed. There’s no winner. You run. You walk. You move. You have a good time with a lot of other people. You’re getting people together with a common objective of physical activity.”

The Color Run also provided the Canadiens Children’s Foundation with a platform to reach out to an audience that might not otherwise be familiar with an important part of its mandate.

“To be able to talk to 15,000 people about our charity [is an incredible opportunity],” explained Paquette. “This is not our traditional market. You’re not necessarily talking to people who buy hockey tickets or follow the Canadiens. It’s a great opportunity for us to talk to new people and get them to know the Foundation. For them to see hockey players who are role models and athletes that take physical activity seriously, we hope that our fans and everyone that is a part of this big community are also active. It’s very important for us to be associated with an event that has such a loud message.”

That message certainly resonated with the thousands in attendance who proudly donned their new colours alongside friends and family at the finish line.

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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