Neon Color Run brings glow to community

Photo By Walt Mares: Three adorable girls and their mothers added zip and zest to the Aug. 18 Neon Color Run on Kiko Road. The little ones had wings attached depicting either fairies or butterflies while moms added their own extra color to the fun family event. Around 200 people of all ages took part in the 5K (3.1 miles). Some ran the course but most folks either jogged or walked. After all, It was, for many, a rather challenging event that included a steep section of the road.

200 join in the early-evening family fun

By Walt Mares

MORENCI – It was about two hours before sunset. Ah, yes, sunset when there is often a bright glow of red, yellow or bright pink in the western sky.

 It was a Saturday evening and the sky was overcast. Therefore, any colors that a sunset may have shown would not have been visible. Instead, there was a very different kind of glow that was indeed unique. It was an earthbound multi-colored neon glow created by the 200 or so runners and walkers gathered for the Neon Color Run.on Aug. 18.

Photo By Walt Mares: Members of the Morenci High School cross country team dash from the starting line ahead of the crowd at the Aug. 18 Neon Color Run. In white at left center is Shaun Kartchner, Jordon Mares in red and to his left Dante Deande. While the run involved fun for the Wildcat runners it was also serious business. Mares was first to cross the finish line with a time of 19:30. Morenci Community Services sponsored the run.

It was truly a family event. There were grandparents, parents, and children who participated in the run. They wore T-shirts that were extremely bright yellow, pink, orange and blue.  The T-shirt fronts read, “We Don’t Sweat We Glow.”  Someone joked that even with a cloud cover overhead the brightness of the shirts made him almost wish he had worn sunglasses.

 The 5K (3.1 miles) run was held on Kiko Road on the outskirts of Morenci proper. For being a dirt road it is pretty smooth because it is well-maintained. There are no rocks jutting out from the road’s surface on which a person could easily sprain an ankle.

 There is no traffic on Kiko Road, so that eliminates the problem of having to dodge vehicles.

 The run was scheduled to begin at 5:30 but there was some delay because people just kept showing up, ready to do their thing, whether it was walking or running.

  According to Julie Payne, activities program specialist with Morenci Community Services, 171 people registered to participate in the Color Run. There were several at the run who had not registered but still participated. That very likely boosted the number of participants to about 200.

When the signal was given to start the run there were some runners who took off like the proverbial bat out of Hades. Most participants walked.  The number of people participating was impressive, but more so was the number of people smiling and laughing as they left the starting line. There was something of a logjam of walkers at the start but that did not bother anyone as walkers began spreading out after about 50 yards.

Photo By Walt Mares: Part of the large crowd of walkers moves out from the starting line at the Neon Color Run on Aug. 18. The event included grandparents, parents, children, and babies in strollers. Everyone walked or ran at her or his own pace and a good time was had by all.

Equally impressive was the number of mothers and dads pushing baby strollers. There were many children, some as young as five years old, walking along with parents or at least one parent, or a sibling. Some of the children were 10 or 12. They smiled and laughed and talked with other young companions.

While they were not necessarily competing with anyone, at the finish line one could tell their efforts were challenging. After all, part of the course was fairly steep.

Among those who pushed themselves, at least to some degree, was Patience Marcell0, 10. At the finish line, his face appeared blushed as she caught her breath. She said she enjoys running and certainly had a good time. She told of her interest in distance running and her desire to someday run cross country for Morenci High School.

Photo By Walt Mares: Two youngsters in strollers appear to be enjoying themselves as they roll along via mom-power during the Aug. 18 Neon Color Run on Kiko Road. Here, the sun peeks through the overcast sky that hovered during most of the run. The sunshine brightened the already bright neon-colored T-shirts worn by most participants. T-shirt fronts read, “We Don’t Sweat We Glow.” 

Speaking of MHS cross country, for team members Jordon Mares, Shaun Kartchner, and Dante Deande, the Color Run was fun but it was also serious business. They sped away at the start. Mares, who finished first among all runners, was clocked at 19:30, Kartchner at 20:08 and Deande at 21:00. Their efforts were obvious as all three crossed the finish line perspiring heavily. Mares said the steep part of the course was in fact challenging. His teammates shook their heads in agreement.

Some observers remarked they were amazed at how the three runners performed, especially in the fairly hot weather. The cloud cover did somewhat cool the outdoor temperature so Color Run participants did not have to deal with a blazing sun shining down directly on them. Even so, for those such as the MHS runners who made all-out efforts, there was cause for plenty of sweat.

The sun occasionally peeked through the clouds during the latter part of the run, but there was no sharp rise in heat. A gentle breeze had begun blowing and cooled things off.  It was around that time when another type of warmth became part of the scene. It was heart-warming to see mothers pushing baby strollers as they made their way to the finish line. The sunshine also had the seeming effect of making the T-shirts of the women and others glow all the brighter.   

Photo By Walt Mares: Part of what became a crowd of about 200 prepare to line up for a group photo at the Aug. 18 Neon Color Run along Kiko Road on the outskirts of Clifton and Morenci. At the event’s finish line, many commented on how much fun the run was. Folks could set their own pace whether walking, jogging or running. The Color Run drew people of all ages and was organized and sponsored by Morenci Community Services.

Payne said the Color Run’s purpose was “A fun way to get the community out and active.” As for the neon-colored T-shirts, she said their purpose was “adding flare to having fun.” She also lauded Anthony Vidales, sports coordinator with Morenci Community Services. Along with performing several other tasks, Vidales handled keeping the giant inflatable goal-post-like start and finish line marker. That was a chore in itself.

There was some heavy drinking among those who crossed the finish line. That is, every last one of the hundreds of bottles of cold water provided by Vidales and his crew were drunk. The slices of oranges that were on ice also quickly were gone.

No one was heard complaining about the event. Most remarks involving people congratulating others for their efforts and relaying how much they enjoyed the event.