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Cloquet Rotary hosts colorful fundraiser

The Cloquet Rotary Club organized the fifth annual Color Run on Saturday, July 14. Contributed photo.

One of the more unique running events in the Northland — the Cloquet Rotary Club's fifth annual Color Run — was Saturday, July 14 at Pine Valley in Cloquet. The run combines a beautiful run through the forested pines and at the foot of the two ski jumps in Pine Valley, along with runners being doused with colored cornstarch by Rotary volunteers as they run and walk to the finish line.

"A lot of other runs will have a gimmick like running at night under the lights or something like that, but this is very unique," said Paul Nordvall, who co-chaired the race committee along with Karen Smith. "There is just something fun about the color being thrown on you as you run through such a beautiful course. Most running races happen on streets, but this is in such a beautiful setting that I think it adds to the uniqueness of the race."

The event is used a fundraiser for Cloquet Rotary, with money distributed to help make lives better for the less fortunate.

"Our Cloquet Rotary Club has donated over $500,000 dollars in the past 12 years," Nordvall said. "Things like the child literacy program, all-night grad parties, a program to make sure kids have warm clothing in the winter are just some of the many things Rotary has donated to."

Runners had the option of running a 2.5K loop, or they could go around the loop twice to make it a 5K race. Most people run the event for fun, but there are those who run for special causes, to remember loved ones who are no longer here or just for the sure oddity of having special dyes tossed on their bodies with a chance to win prizes.

"We had 186 runners this year, which is right in line with what we normally see as far as numbers go," Nordvall said. "A lot of families come out and bring the little kids to run their first race. The little ones love it and families have fun doing the race."

Problematic for the event this year was the fact that heavy rains for the past month have left much of the running loop wet, but the city of Cloquet came to the rescue and helped get the course in a safe and quality running condition.

"We can't thank the city enough," Nordvall said. "Some places on the course were wet and the city did some course maintenance to help out. There would have been a lot of muddy shoes had they not helped."

To top off the event, all the runners gather in a large circle after the race and toss bags and buckets of the corn starch coloring into the air in what is a wild climax.

"The final color toss is a wonderful time," Nordvall said. "There's a lot of goodwill, friendship and just a love of summer that goes into the toss. It makes for a great finish to the race."