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RUNNING MAN: Cloquet Color Run was a rainbow of fun

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The sea of white shirts flowed excitedly to the starting line. The mass of people stopped at a groove scrawled in the dirt, continuing to converse as we waited. I stood with my cross-country buddies at the front of the group, sharing quick jokes echoed by easy laughter.

Smiling faces stopped chatting with one another and looked toward the chalet as the announcer’s voice boomed over the loudspeaker. With a hasty, “3. . .2. . .1. . .GO!” the race began like any other summer 5K run.

We jetted from the starting line, threading through Pine Valley’s green, overgrown trails. Our talking subsided as our breathing grew heavier, and our steps fell in tandem with the silence.

That silence was soon broken.

Less than three minutes into the race, we came across the first “color station.”

We were ambushed by volunteers armed with multi-colored hues of powdered chalk paint, splashing the psychedelic grit on our shirts, legs, and faces.

We couldn’t help but smile as the glittering powder billowed in clouds around us. “Ah, it’s in my mouth!” my friend Jace yelled. We laughed even harder and in response I licked my lips, spitting out the radioactive blue chalk that now stained my face.

“Close your mouth next time!” someone behind me suggested.

After our first encounter, the race turned into a literal haze of powder, sweat, and color. But each blast of the stuff caused more eruptions of laughter, and no matter how hard I prepared myself, I could never stop from smiling (the taste of chalk lingered for almost an hour).

After 20 minutes of running through a flower child’s dream, we pass through the small group assembled at the finish line. More and more people began to finish and filter to the snacks and water. The previous sea of white had morphed into chromatic waves, and each person was covered in a unique rainbow of warpaint.

Reds and pinks and oranges and purples danced everywhere, and the announcer congratulated everyone for finishing the first annual Cloquet Color Run.

Needless to say, it was a hit.