Colour runs are a faux-charity scam

Colour Cult

From the generation that brought you “YOLO” and “Live, Love, Dance” tattoos, the “colour run” has been highlighted — literally — as the next equally meaningless fad selling happiness, individuality and the promise of living in the moment.

The colour run is a 5-kilometre run where people pay to have colored cornstarch hurled at their faces and bodies. The event is a bastardization of Holi, a Hindu religious celebration.

Dyed powder was once used to colour individuals in celebration of divine love and the changing of seasons. Now, dyed cornstarch is placed in compressed tanks similar to fire extinguishers to be shot at hyped-up 20-somethings paying nearly $50 for the privilege. America!

The colour run market in North America seems to be cornered by three major players: The Color Run, Color Me Rad and Run or Dye. A quick search reveals that a number of other, similar companies are hosting the exact same “unique” experience. The idea that paying to have tinted cornstarch shot at you will help you find happiness has been described as “the best legal scam since the pet rock,” a fad created by an advertising executive who used it to amass a $5-million fortune.

Though the run certainly has some benefits for participants, like memories forever preserved in Facebook photos of colour-drenched friends, and the obvious physical and mental benefits of general exercise, these hardly measure up to what entrants are being sold.

Color Me Rad offers a “guarantee that your outlook will be brighter” after participating in its 5-kilometre cornstarch explosion, and that’s only one of many such outlandish promises.



All major color run companies note that a portion of their profit is given to local or national charities, though the amount varies based on the charitable organization and the size of the event.

Alaskan reporter Laurel Andrews crunched the numbers for the Anchorage Color Run where the charity of choice, The Boys’ and Girls’ Club, was given a maximum of 3.33 per cent of the $300,000 profit — and only after they supplied upwards of 250 volunteers.

Not all partner organizations are even registered charities. The recent Kitchener, Ont. Color Me Rad event was partnered with Triton Sports, a sport event management company. Triton Sports’ only involvement was to recruit volunteers from local Kitchener sports teams. Color Me Rad donated a set amount per volunteer to that volunteer’s sport team.

Triton Sports reported that roughly 7,000 people were registered for the Kitchener run. At $45 per person, the registration fees brought in $315,000. Of course, overhead costs are a factor. Some simple and very liberal math based on numbers provided by the City of Kitchener outline the cost of a colour run:

  • After-party space: free
  • Policing and security: $5,000
  • Road closures: $2,000
  • The unknown (travel, set up, staffing, clean up): an estimated $20,000
  • Total costs: $27,000
  • Net profit: 288,000

If these unofficial figures are anywhere near accurate, Color Me Rad’s profit far outweighs the charitable donation to Kitchener youth sports teams of just $8,000.

This leads to a question of whether colour runs are donating, or if they’re milking a charitable reputation to receive cheap, contracted labour for an incredible profit.

If running through a spectrum of dust is your thing, then yes, it’s probably a fun event. But don’t expect to find inner peace in a colour-induced, haze, and definitely don’t consider signing up an act of charity. Your entrance fee definitely helps make the corporation running the show richer, might help a local organization, and likely won’t help you stay happy beyond whatever joy you reap from ‘likes’ on your rainbow of new profile pictures.

[image via Scooter Lowrimore/Flickr]

5km, Anchorage, Buying Happiness, Colour me Rad, Colour Run, Holi, Kitchener, Run or Dye

  • Drew

    Good points. Just to be clear, Hindi tradition does not hold a monopoly on throwing around dyed powder. I mean, countless religious and cultural events often revolve around activities that are always quite similar to one another.

    • Kjell

      And Christians dont have a monopoly on guys nailed to wood but its a pretty iconic part of the religion.

      • Morgan

        … Just to be clear, Christmas is when Jesus is born, not when he’s nailed to wood, but I see where you’re going with this..

        • Steve

          Christmas, of course, being second in importance to Easter, when Jesus is in fact nailed to wood

          • John Travolta

            And Groundhog day, when Jesus comes up from his hole, and if he doesn’t see his shadow there will be 1 more month of winter.

          • Bill Murray


          • Frank

            …Just to be clear, Christmas was a pagan holiday appropriated by Christians and Jesus was probs not born then. Easter and Pentecost are more important in Christianity… everyone seems to forget about Pentecost… poor Pentecost.

          • Karlton

            Just to be clear, Skynet became self aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time on August 29th.

          • Joe Carson

            Jesus is almost made of anti-metal-poly-alloy. . . . .

          • Evie

            You’re right he wasn’t even born on December 25th. He was born in the summer.

          • Aardvarking Lot

            ZOMG EVERYTHING IS A SCAAAAAMMMM. Eh, but seriously, a thing’s basis is never as important as its actual significance. December 25 comes from Pagan tradition, or something. But nobody cares, because that’s when all of us Christians get presents, now. A Hindi tradition also throws color at people as a sign of love, but why should the color run care? A symbol is something real plus something imaginary. Since the imaginary part of the color run’s symbol is different than that of the Hindi tradition, then its whole symbol is different. Pointless arguments over facts that don’t matter. Bah, humbug.

          • ones of the stupidest comments

            “But nobody cares, because that’s when all of us Christians get presents, now.” - ah yes, as Jesus did command in the Bible.

            “A Hindi tradition also throws color at people as a sign of love, but why should the color run care?” - Respect, decency, empathy?

            “A symbol is something real plus something imaginary” - no it isn’t, its just the imaginary, or ‘symbolic’ part.

            “Since the imaginary part of the color run’s symbol is different than that of the Hindi tradition, then its whole symbol is different” - what the hell do you think symbol means?

          • Jake

            Easter was a pagan holiday… stop trying to act smart

          • notroll

            Easter is also a re-appropriated Pagan holiday … thats where the eggs and bunnies come in.

          • Guest

            Both of which, of course, actually originally being pagan rituals in origin and absolutely nothing to do with christian belief.

          • Vic

            Everyone in this slew of replies has nothing better to do with their time than post stupidity on the internet ~ Interesting read, not surprised by how stupid/gullible some people are.

          • tdotgooner

            But wouldn’t that mean that you also “have nothing better to do with your time than post stupidity on the internet” now that you have added to this “slew of replies”?

          • Scott Lewis

            Easter was when Jesus supposedly rose from the dead, not when he was nailed to wood. Good Friday was when he was nailed to wood.

          • blarg

            strictly speaking, Good Friday is when he was buried, Easter is the day of resurrection. since clearly we’re playing ‘who can be more pedantic’.

          • Vincent Andrew Krauzowicz

            Somebody’s trolling

        • Mike

          He doesn’t say that Christmas was when Jesus was crucified lol he just said “nailed to wood” in general and I tend to agree

        • Chris Pickrell

          Christmas is a Pagan Holiday. Most experts believe Jesus was born Dec. 2nd.

          • Benny Adam

            Just to be clear, Monopoly is a great game.

          • P.A.

            Just to be clear… No one knows shit about who was born when two thousand years ago.

          • Chris Pickrell

            I know. That’s why I said “most experts believe.” And I bet most experts have more knowledge than you do on the topic.

        • Megan

          just to be clear, he said CHRISTIANS, not Christmas.

        • gasdf

          you read it wrong.. she said Christians, not Christmas… idiot

        • UPGN

          I lol’d at this entire comment thread and then thought of this quote:

          “I possess a device, in my pocket, that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and get in arguments with strangers.”

          • Liam Neeson

            I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you stop commenting on this thread, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

          • lizard man

            just to be clear, I didn’t save any money after switching to geico… what a scam.

        • partypooper

          to be fair if jesus was even real, he wouldn’t be born in december, that’s a siberian pagan tradition just like christmas tree ornaments and christmas trees

        • Emily Guillas

          you guys are a bunch of nuts.

          • Mukel Kat

            Just to be clear, ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US.

      • Spencer.21

        Yeah so while we are at it lets call out the Mexican for their beliefs in the Day of the Dead where the folk art style of happy times, big smiles, colourful icing and glitter showers bring others together.
        Or how about weddings that shower the bride and groom in glitter through countless religions, are these all wrong too for bringing people together for good times?

        ps. KJELL we are talking about glitter, not an iconic symbol that is causing anyone harm.

      • Pat

        You’re right, and Jesus (if he was indeed real and crucified) wasn’t the only individual to be nailed to a cross throughout history.

        As Drew said, Hindi tradition does not hold monopoly on throwing around dyed powder, similar to how using sayings or gestures that are common in other cultures is not cultural appropriation either.

      • Doug

        Are you really comparing Jesus being nailed to the cross to dye being thrown around? One seems a little more of an integral part of the religion than the other..

        • Cate

          Its only an “integral part of the religion” because you can relate to it and its important to YOU … who are you to say “dye being thrown around” (the way you put it clearly indicates you know nothing about it) is not integral to them?

      • Luman Walters

        Totally agree. People got pretty uppity last year when I nailed santa to the cross for halloween.

    • Devon

      Cmon, Drew. Hindi is not a religion, it is a language. It is Hinduism or in this cause *Hindu tradition.

      • Hindu

        THANK YOU.

    • howard


      It’s “Hindu tradition”, not “Hindi”, Hinduism is a religion, and it’s devotees are Hindus. Hindi is one of the two national languages of India, along with English.

      And this is a textbook case of cultural appropriation to make a profit. No one is saying that it’s wrong for adherents of another religion to celebrate another religion/culture’s (and it is more of a cultural festival of Northern India, you’d hardly see it anywhere outside the North) holiday, it’s when it’s appropriated for profit and bullshit feel-good-iness that it’s a tad offensive.

    • Jenna

      Just to be clear, it’s Hindu tradition, not “Hindi”.

    • tygrstyle

      Just to be clear, Hindi is a language… not a religion.

    • Guest51

      Hindu tradition. Hindi is a language, Hindu is a religion.

      • Guest3242

        Yes Hindi is a language and Hinduism is a religion, a Hindu is a person that practices Hinduism.

  • Sam

    I had to pass by this event in Kitchener the other day as I live downtown. I had no idea what it was, and attempted to research upon getting home.

    At best, it appeared to be a mass marketed version of a Burning Man exhibit. At worse, it was exactly what you are describing. I spent some time the night before reading up on MLM schemes, so naturally, as I was poised to be cynical, I went with the latter. I believe it is not unjustified.

    • brandon archer

      Mlm schemes? Mlm is a business model taught at Harvard Business School and many local high learning education centre’s. I think you are confusing their structure with illegal pyramid schemes and or ponzi schemes. You might want to extend your research to include proper channels. I recommend success magazine and fortune magizine, the wall street journal and the Harvard Business review are great sources as well.

      • Sebastian Schweigert

        Stop spreading lies. MLM is NOT taught at Harvard, or any reputable school in the country:

        MLM is the modern version of pyramid schemes and ponzi schemes. The purveyors are smart enough to set actually sell a product, so that what they’re doing is not illegal.

        The vast majority (99%) of people who buy into MLM schemes do not make money. Instead, they lose significant amounts of money investing in the schemes.

        The first think a MLM company will ask when you sign up is to buy a bunch of their product to “fill your stock.” Does that seem strange to you? What other kind of job would force you to pay a large sum of money on your first day? This money goes to the higher ups, whether or not you actually sell any goods. Thus, the higher ups don’t care whether or not you sell anything. All they care about is having more “marketers” sign up to “invest” by “filling up their stock.”

        The people who run these businesses know exactly what they are doing and exactly what to say in order to convince hopefuls that the scheme is a legitimate way to make money.

        It takes literally 1 minute to read the wikipedia page to find everything you need to know about MLM being a scam.

        • Dougie

          That’s odd… because I have this raving business opportunity you must hear about! I can’t tell you what it is but trust me, we are going to be rich!

          Scam? No this isn’t a pyramid level scheme!

        • Haaron

          “How to siphon money from suckers while creating nothing of value” is EXACTLY what they teach at Harvard and other business schools, though.

          • Sebastian Schweigert

            Because businessmen create nothing of value…?

          • Cath777

            Both of you are right, Some MLM are schemes, but not all of them are. There are many out there and we shouldn’t all compare them.

      • PJ

        I love business models, scams, colored starch, and would really love Brandon Archer to extend his research to the pages of Grammar For Dummies.

  • Susan

    This isn’t a scam….it’s just a run. Most participants signed up to enjoy an outdoor activity with their families. Your article does not give accurate assumed costs either….$27k really?!?! Here are a few more expenses you missed:
    T-shirt and sunglasses for every participant and volunteer
    Port-o-pottie rentals
    Power washing the enitire route post race
    Full time staffing costs
    Colour-both powdered and liquid
    Uhaul rentals
    Bottled Water
    That’s at least 100k just for day-of expenses. Add to that all the infrastructure they brought in and the numbers tell another story.

    I’m sure if you asked, none of the participants felt scammed. There are worse ways to spend forty bucks!

    • Anabelle

      Well said Susan, I had lots of fun and I’ll do it again next year!!!

    • Sandra

      Agreed! In fact I had no clue they even claimed to make a donation to a local chairty. I was just there for the fun and the run. To be honest it’s refreshing to not be asked to get pledges for an organization. I just wanted to have a fun morning with my fellow running friends. I signed up to pay $40 to do so, with no lofty thoughts of supporting a charity. Sorry if that’s selfish… but I agree you can spend $40 a lot worse ways!!

      • Chris Pickrell

        You mean you paid $40 bucks to an organization that donates a paltry amount to charity, and they DIDN’T tell you?


      • BB

        “To be honest it’s refreshing to not be asked to get pledges for an organization.”

        Maybe you should focus less on ~honesty~ and a little more on helping the organizations that step up every single day to make up where society and the government fall short. God forbid you ever require services that you can’t provide to yourself.

        One of the greatest things about America is how incredibly charitable its citizens are and have been all the way back to Colonial days. It is one of our most marked and positive characteristics.

        Except for you, of course.

        • akke

          Actually, Americans and Canadians give a paltry amount of their income to charity. The more wealthy you are, the less you give. I believe 2.3 percent is the average amount a Canadian gives per year.

          • BB

            Don’t start a comment with “Actually” when you don’t know what you’re talking about. Not only do Americans lead the world in monetary giving, the contribution of volunteer work is also significant. Factoring in the quantity of one’s own income that is given is utterly beside the point.


          • Ryan

            It’s easy to give more when you have more, the wealthy in America are still greedy as fuck and don’t give a shit about the suffering in even their own country.

          • David

            John 12:41-44:

            41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

            43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

            Poorer people giving more of their income to charity is absolutely, unreservedly better than rich people giving less, on a moral level.

        • Max Supernova

          Wow, did you ever mischaracterize Sandra’s argument. She said she enjoyed not having to deal with pledges for a change, not that she didn’t enjoy giving to charity. Your response is what we call a straw man.

        • Sam

          She was happy to do a run that didn’t require fundraising - does that make her a bad person? Is there a problem with doing something for fun?

          • Anon

            In theory, no. But $40 for an “experience” you could replicate in your backyard?

    • Anne

      Agreed! I signed up for this because it looked like a fun way to get out and run with friends, and it was! I was not under the impression that anything was going to charity, nor was I expecting my life to be enhanced in any long term way by the experience. The run is also a great way to get people who would not normally enjoy running to engage and get active. A couple of the people I ran with in fact only started to run because they wanted to do this race specifically, and now they’re hooked!

      • Chad Mueller

        Same here - I had no idea it was for charity and even if they marketed it that way - I could really careless. Call me selfish but I would run it either way…

    • Nick

      The only thing that this article accomplishes is ‘validate my opinion’. I want my 2 minutes back. It’s a themed run. If I’m going to do a themed run, I don’t have to be doing it because I want to fight cancer and save the world from malaria.

      You could literally look at the profits made by any mainstream or niche event and adopt 90% of the critiques used by this article. Should we place an embargo on MLSE because over ~50% of their profits don’t go to charity?

      • Soylent Green Is People

        I think the real point is that paying to do a themed run (and then tweeting, as that one girl did, that it was “one of the best moments” of her life) ranks among the most pathetic faux-cool things in a pop-culture-driven, fleeting, vapid society replete with completely pathetic faux-cool things.

    • Cate

      I think the issue they are pointing out is that many people go into it thinking it is “for charity” and a good cause, and that is how it is advertised, when really it is kind of a scam in regards to donations. However, if you go into it knowing it will be a fun event, that is a different story

      • ffsab

        > that is how it is advertised

        But it isn’t. Go to Color Me Rad’s website. The only mention of charity is in the FAQ, and it’s prefaced with the fact that it’s a “for-profit event”. The author’s trying to blow up a non-issue for some reason. I dunno whether it’s a personal vendetta or just career advancement, but either way this is really not controversial at all

      • Anon

        And to be fair, 3.3% is actually sort of normal.
        Look at all the “pink” crap they sell for Breast Cancer Awareness. How much do they donate? 1%?

    • Phillip

      Yes, I was impressed with what I received for the registration cost. And let’s remember that the local charities associated with the run agreed to their terms beforehand. If they do end up feeling like they are not benefiting from the event, or being ripped off somehow, they are not bound to participate again.

      My run supported Big Brothers Big Sisters of toronto, who were represented at the race, and were linked to the website, where people had the option to make independent donations.

      I did the run once, and I enjoyed it. It was focused on being a light hearted event, and the colour stations broke up the run nicely, keeping up motivation and energy. I was also joined by a friend who was too intimidated to participate in any other 5Ks, so I was glad ‘color me rad’ came to our city.

      This article is really bias, and judgmental. These forementioned “promises” are intentionally outlandish. Hyperbolic humor is a thing. And if participants end up having a good time, don’t judge them for sharing it with their friends on facebook.

    • BB

      Originally, my view of these runs was that the kids entered at least partly because the proceeds would be donated to local charities. So we have two outcomes: 1. the kids ain’t give a shit about charities and just want to act like wildebeests in gym shorts or 2. they do care but never investigate to see just how much of those proceeds go to charities, and continue to support these asinine business scams because they miss the Nickelodeon show “Wild & Crazy Kids”.

      Either way, we do not approve.

      • Sam

        Or kids like to run…period. It’s a fun themed run that people go out and do with friends. I did one this year and I thought that my registration fee went to the race package that they gave me (t-shirt, power bar, bib number, dye) and to pay for their materials and such. Not every run has to be about charity.

      • Susan

        BB, I would caution making assumptions about peoples intentions when they sign up for runs, both kids and adults alike. I have done many runs over the years ranging from 5km to half marathons and even though they all donated to charity that wasn’t my motivation to run. I am happy that a portion of the registration fees go to a good cause but I sign up to challenge myself and I enjoy running. The truth is if people want to donate to charity they can write a cheque to any organization they choose without any connection to an event. It’s really unfail to think that because participants came out to have fun they are ignorant or clueless about where their money goes. You should know that the majority of participants are adults who know fully what they paid for and it’s up to them to determine if it was worth it….not a biased and negative student article.

    • FFSAB

      It’s says “FOR-PROFIT EVENT” on their site. Is she just as offended that Wal-Mart doesn’t donate more of their revenue to charity? Color Me Rad is NOT a charity but that should not be news.

      • Greg Khaikin

        But does walmart staff their stores with Volunteers from a charity to save on labor costs?

    • David Chan

      They definitely don’t go out of their way to make sure people know it’s for profit. I, and many others obviously, thought it was a charity.

    • Chris

      I wonder if anyone knows you can actually go for a run with your friends for free?

    • Behaviourmom

      Thank you!! I did a run and had a great time. Never expected it to raise money for charity like some other runs where you collect donations. Never expected enlightenment. Went to have some fun.

  • bandon archer

    And scam…. Maybe not that intense. I mean it’s still providing a service/ experience. However if the profit far outweighs the charitable contribution than it has no right to boast about being a charitable organizations….

    • Spence

      Donating any sum of money counts as making a donation!

      • Lauren

        Good point!! Would everyone rather that they not donate anything? They are at least trying to give SOMETHING to an organization in need. No one said that every “charity event” should be raising millions. And they really don’t claim that the run is solely created for the purpose of donating to charity…I would argue that they are more heavily promoting the healthful benefits of exercise…that was my impression as a registrant anyways.

  • Dave

    This article is sensationalism and nothing more. My wife and I did Colour Me Rad in Kitchener this past weekend, and we were under no illusion that the event was a charity. Nor did we feel the event was marketed as such.

    “Part of the proceeds going to charity” is a very common marketing tactic used by a wide range and varieties of businesses.

    In terms of the company advertising that running the race will make you happy… have you ever seen a car commercial, or better yet a beer commercial? If you want to complain about implied false promises, maybe that’s a better place to start?

    • Drake

      You suck for choosing Colour Me Rad instead of the Run for the Cure. Selfish bastard.

      • Naomi

        Really? Really? That’s your response? How do you know this individual does not run or ride or walk or contribute to charitable causes on a regular basis. Grow up.

        • Sam

          They were kidding.

          • Drake

            I wasn’t kidding. It doesn’t matter if they run/walk for charity other times of the year, it doesn’t change the fact that they joined a 5km run to get paint sprayed on them rather than running to raise money for a cause that is one of the leading causes of Canadian deaths. The fact that the Colour Run took some of the profits that could have gone to this charity is appalling. It’s in bad taste to host their run the same day as the Run for the Cure.

          • RU4real

            How do you know they are not already signed up for a charity run. Maybe this run was first. You do not always have to do charity runs. Maybe they like running for the sake of running. No one has to choose a charity run over a regular run. Maybe they donate money for charities instead of running

  • Faith

    Nothing in the literature for this event “boasts” about being a charitable event. I’m not sure how anyone could confuse these runs for a charity event. These events, after all, are run by a business, and businesses are in the business of making money. As much as they can. That’s the whole point. The FAQ clearly states that it’s NOT a non-profit event, and nowhere on the website does it scream “CHARITY RUN.”

    Also, Susan’s comment is quite apt in describing the additional costs that this article fails to account for — it might help if Leonard had bothered with due diligence before pointing fingers.

    I, for one, had a blast at the run. The point was to get outdoors and have fun, do something silly and have a new experience. That’s $30 well spent on a morning of memories with friends, instead of sitting around at home watching TV or buying useless crap. Time and money well spent.

    • ishmaeldaro

      Yes, colour runs are organized by for-profit companies but a large part of the appeal is “giving back.” Clearly that’s what draws a lot of people in, because otherwise you’re just some asshole running through the streets getting dyed powder thrown at you for no reason.

      From the Colour Run “charity” page: “In 2012, The Color Run raised more than $600,000 for local and national charities. In 2013, we plan to donate at least $1 million!”

      • Faith

        Wow. Thanks for calling me an asshole. You’re a real class act yourself, sir.

      • Megan Vdk

        So people cant have fun these days without being called an asshole. So in order to fun a 5k, it has to be for a good cause? Right. You sir, need to get a life! I dont know anyone who signs up for the colour runs to “give back”. No one. If I wanted to give back, I would have ran in a race that is for charity. I do that other times of the year, so why shouldn’t I be able to run for the fun of it and have a good time once and a while? The fact that there even is a slight charitable donation given should be good enough.

      • threenorns

        if someone is so concerned about “giving back”, why would they pay a race $35+ so a “portion” of it could go to charity instead of just signing over the whole $35?

      • Lauren

        I would disagree that a large part of the appeal is “giving back”. I’m pretty sure being (and I quote) “just some asshole running through the streets getting dyed powder thrown at you for no reason” IS the reason that MOST people sign up. Why not have a little fun while exercising?

        Also, I think companies are certainly allowed to boast about their charitable contributions if they make them (you can even look at a mining company and THEY will list their donations). Why is everyone so short sighted about all of this??

      • David Chan

        Sad that in our society having a commercial company that making massive margins throwing colored cornstarch at you is “the best experience ever”.

        • Lauren

          do you hold the patent on the “best experience ever”?? if so, please do share…you could benefit from it yourself clearly

          • David Chan

            There’s no logical connection between what I said and what you just posted.

  • Zack

    Sounds like the author of this article needs to do a Colour run. The world is not a miserable place, you are just clearly miserable in it.

  • Shan

    As someone who participated in the race I have to agree with Susan. While I cannot speak for every participant, I personally did not sign up for the race under any illusions that the race was hoping to cure cancer or allow every child in KW to participate in a hockey program. It was a fun thing to do with my friends on a Sunday morning.

    This event promoted physical activity and having fun. As Faith already pointed out, the FAQ on the Color Me Rad website clearly states that this was not a non-profit event.

    Further, I would bet for 70% of the runners this was their first 5K race. Participating in an event like this can can be somewhat addictive.. how many runners are considering registering for another run (perhaps for a charity) in the next year?

  • Liz

    They never garentee or tell how much will be donated from the run, secondly 8,000.00 is still more then they had before the Run happened so SCAM I think not, there is still money being donated and its more for the experience.
    For my first race/run I am very happy I chose to do it with Color me RAD and I will do it again in a heart beat.

    • Chad

      $8,000.00 for hundreds of volunteers. That’s cheaper than paying for manual labour.

      • threenorns

        which would still have net the charity zip-all.

        • Anon

          Or they could’ve just had every one of those volunteers chip in $40 and come out better for it.

  • James

    Here is an analogy for all of you who have decided to grab your torches in self defense of your uninhibited love of being covered in colors.

    In KW, bottle pickups are done by non-profits (like Sports teams trying to pay for the trip of their lives) or the unfortunate who have to resort to acts like sifting threw garbage for bottles to get by. Now if I started a company to replace these two demographics who do this practice (and said I would give a little bit to them), would you all support me? I am directly taking money from children and the poor but that shouldn’t make me a bad person by all of your standards.

    Why? Because that is EXACTLY what Color Me Rad is doing. Fun Runs are historically charitable events. For god’s sake, they directly competed with Run For a Cure on Sunday! While it is completely legal for them to do so, is it not morally flawed? Doesn’t the claim they donate to charity put them into a category that they have no right to be in? Wouldn’t the $315,000 that was raised have been better spent to fight cancer with a similar outcome at the end (Physical fitness and fun)?

    That is why I support this author and chose to express my opinion. And remember, this is a free country. Without our opinions we are no better than the communist countries we see in the news everyday, so that is why I respect all of yours and expect you all to respect mine.

    • Sebastian Schweigert

      No kidding. $45 for a run? Who would be stupid enough to spend that much?

      If someone asked me to go to this event, I’d decline and go for a run in the park.

      • Megan Vdk

        Most runs I have been in, charitable or not, are about $35+.

      • threenorns

        so don’t spend that much - who’s asking you to?

        go ahead - run in the park. personally, i think you’re not quite sane, since running is about the most boring activity imaginable, but hey - you go do your little running thing and leave me to my weights.

      • Max Supernova

        When getting to the half-marathon or marathon level, you’re looking at spending $60 or $70, easy.

        $45 is about average for most races I’ve entered. Notice the difference, too: Races versus run. These are timed, and the point is to do your best, as opposed to train for doing your best.

      • Anon

        Decline, go for a run in the park, and donate that $45 (if I had it) directly to a charity instead of having it filtered through a for-profit company.

    • threenorns

      no, fun runs are not “historically” charitable events.

      if i see a fun run advertised, i don’t automatically look for the charity involved - to me, it’s an event that’s been organized to make running (which, let’s face it, is frikkin BORING) a fun time.

      fun runs are often used by charities bec they’re about the cheapest event that can be organized but they’re not exclusive to charity.

      and there is NOTHING wrong with earning a profit - nobody goes into business to lose money.

    • Jackson

      I’m not really sure what bottle pickups are, but if you made bottle pick ups more exciting I would let you pick up my bottles over letting other people pick up my bottles. Not every time but some times it would be fun to watch you do a very vibrant pick up and I would throw you a couple dollars for entertaining me.

      Which is exactly what the color run is. If you’re an avid 5ker then color run will add a little excitement to the normal run and if your not a 5ker than at least a very small percentage of your fee will go to a charity rather than nothing.

  • Jason Campbell

    uh, i’m not sure exactly why you think any of these events claim to be charities. They very clearly say on each of their websites that they are a ‘for profit’ business, but that apart of their profits they give to a local charity. They do no promise to give the majority of their profits, or any certain amount. Someone seems like a bitter blogger with nothing better to write about.

    • James

      This is completely true but the article notes that they are for profit businesses of which some profit is given to charities.

      “If these figures are anywhere near accurate..”

      Even if the cost of putting on the event was $100,000 that’s still nearly $200,000 made from this incredibly wide spread fad of a happiness run.

      I’m so surprised that people are addressing this as a personal attack of why they took part in the run. If you made it to the bottom of the article, rather than scanning the headline, you’d note the address of the for-profit business structure and that charity is not the main intent, the note of the benefits of fun and fitness, the discussion of estimated, not solidified figures and admittance about who is benefitting financially and otherwise.

      The critique here is of a new series of businesses that are marketing a run as “the happiest 5km,” and outlining that they are doing this while pocketing the far majority of the money. Arguing about 5s and 10s in a discussion of hundreds of thousands can’t debunk that.

      • Jason Campbell

        Thanks James, but i did read the whole article, not just the headline.

        The point is, a for profit business is never going to give away the majority of it’s earnings, that’s bad business. You can’t chastise a for profit business for doing what it says it does…. you can’t force a for profit business to be a charity.

        whether it’s a fad or not, is irrelevant. It’s a business that makes money for a 5k run with powered colour. That’s really it. We don’t chastise all businesses that are fads, do we? no.

        “The critique here is of a new series of businesses that are marketing a run as ‘the happiest 5km,” and outlining that they are doing this while pocketing the far majority of the money”… what exactly is your point? The sentence doesn’t even make sense! OH MY GOD, they are making money off an even that they market and run?!? JESUS CHRIST, CALL THE GOVERNMENT!!!

        I would argue that it probably is one of the happiest 5km runs… because it’s fun and light hearted… it’s not really for the marathon runners. It’s actually a really great way to get people who don’t run, into running. Maybe look at it from a positive stand point instead of a bitter betty standpoint.

        You could absolutely be angry if they were promising the happiest run, and then people did not have a good time at all… then sure, be outraged. Although i suspect if you read the comments of the people here, you’ll see a lot of them did have a really fun, happy time. The business never claims it’s not going to pocket most of the money… and seeing how it’s a for profit business, i think most people wouldn’t think they would be giving it all or most of it away anyways.

        and for the record, i’ve never run any of these events, and i’m not taking offence to this post as if i’m being attacked. I’m taking offence to people being absolutely stupid about how business works, and thinking they can force a for-profit business into giving up it’s earnings for an event they produced. The ignorance of this article, and your response just boggles my mind.

        Have a super great day James, and i hope you plan on giving the majority of your earnings today to charity…. because, well you just should, because i said so.

        • Damn it, Jason

          Did you not read his last two sentences? He’s not talking about how a business works, JASON, he’s talking about how a business is making thousands from marketing a run that involves colored dye. FUCK, JASON!

          • Lauren

            No, he really is talking about how these business run. Clearly you don’t understand what the arguments are all about. Who cares if it’s making thousands from marketing a run where you get coloured dye thrown at you?? THAT IS BUSINESS! Creating something UNIQUE to allow you to SELL MORE product…duh?

  • Tony

    Yes. This is a marketing ploy to make a ton of money. No. There is nothing wrong with it. They could easily be as successful NOT donating any of the proceeds to charity. it is a mutually beneficial agreement that both the non-profit and run are entering into. Volunteers for $$$. You’re also making the argument that people are registering with the intent that their money will go to the charity and not to their “good time”, which is entirely false. The demographic of these races is there for the good time, not the charity. If you want an exposé on the shortcomings of charity races, take a look at the Susan G. Komen runs.

    Additionally, there are flaws in your calculations. The majority of registrants from this type of event are not paying full price. As a matter of fact, the majority are likely paying less than half of the advertised cost. Many of the participants register through a daily deal website which offers entry for roughly $20. That alone cuts your profit estimate nearly in half. On top of that, you have noted that road closures cost a mere $2K, which is also incorrect. Depending on the route, a typical 5K course will incur police, coning, barricading, traffic control/notifications and many other overhead costs which further cut into your budget. You have also not accounted for your venue, permitting and other logistical requirements which your $20K does not cover. As Susan mentioned, additional costs are incurred for runner experiences as well.

    A simple article written with simple assumptions. Poorly researched and thought out though.

  • James

    By billeting their event as charitable these for-profit marathons probably skirt many of the rules legitimate businesses have to run around to cordon off the large swaths of public space. These swindlers are taking advantage of our municipalities.

    • threenorns

      except they’re not “billing” (not “billeting” - that means “putting up for the night”, as in, “billeting soldiers in the house down the road”) the run as a charity. they explicitly state:

      “Color Me Rad is a for-profit event. Each city has a local charity partner which will receive a portion of the proceeds. The amount is based on the size of the event and the involvement of the charity. The charity recruits volunteers whose time is compensated directly to the charity. We also provide extra donation opportunities, and we aim to generate awareness of the charity in the community. We have great relationships with our charity partners. Please contact your local charity if you have further questions.”

      anybody who thought it was a charity event didn’t do their due diligence. note that they don’t ask you to contact them for charity donation information - they tell you to call the charity and ask them directly.

  • EH

    I love all of the people trying to justify themselves not looking stupid for paying good money to run through fire extinguishers full of dye, Face it you look stupid & in the end it was stupid. Also Im not buying that whole “I didn’t think it was going to charity, I just did it for the fun run with friends” If so why not just go for a run with your friends?? better yet pay a friend $$ to go run with you, Im sure they will appreciate it more than colour me rad

    • threenorns

      so what’s wrong with going on a colour run? how is that different from a hash run, fox and hounds, a marathon, or a zombie run?

      or is it that “real” runners only take peaceful routes through bucolic countrysides enjoying the peace and silence of nature?

    • Max Supernova

      I bet you’re a lot of fun at parties.

    • Lauren

      Why do you have to crap all over people want to go out and sign up for an event to run with their friends? Are you angry because your friends didn’t invite you to run with them?

  • Steven Marshall

    Excellent article, Allison.
    I was on the subway in Toronto and I saw a Color Me Rad poster. It was geared to look like a charitable event.
    Now I know better.

    • threenorns

      this is from the CMR website:

      The Race:

      Color Me Rad is coming to a town near you with a tsunami of color that’ll make colored tears of joy run down your cheeks and will renew your will to live.

      Color Me Rad is a 5K that fires off in a blaze of color bombs, color cannons, color mortars, and multi-toned courses that guarantee your outlook will be brighter, your boyfriend will be more affectionate, your boss will finally remember your name, the hair on your head will grow back and the hair on your back will fall out, and your gray outlook will turn green like a spring morning.

      Historically, running has only been acceptable when trying to escape the law, personal responsibility, the truth, and grizzly bears.

      Instead of running FROM something, get ready to run FOR something at this year’s Color Me Rad. Run for the hell of it.

      How it Works:

      You’ll start off with a shirt as pure and white as your granddaddy’s dentures, and throughout the run, we’ll coat your chaffing thighs with Color Bombs of blue, green, pink, purple, and yellow until you come out like a tie-dyed hippy on the other side.

      Each section of the run adds a new explosion of color to your clean, painter’s palate until you cross the finish line into a final blitzkrieg of color.

      The Color:

      You’re probably asking yourselves, “Is this really color being thrown at us or are the rainbows we’re seeing just God’s signal that it’ll never flood again?”

      Glad you aksed. This isn’t just smoke and mirrors. This is non-toxic, non-rash-inducing, Kroger branded, colored cornstarch.* With corn subsidized by the government and processed in the good o’l US of A, these blasts of starch will change your color and your demeanor but never your safety or health.

      Ingredients: Corn starch and FD&C and/or D&C colors. Color safety information: Approved for use in foods, cosmetics and/or drugs. These products are not considered hazardous, 29 CFR 1910-1200.


      that is the entire “About” page. where in there do you see anything about charity or finding “inner peace” (as in, actual mental stability)? Anybody who takes that seriously has some issues that need sorting.


      and from the FAQs:

      Does this benefit charity?

      You think we’re just going to keep all your money? A portion of the proceeds will go to benefit a local charity in the community. Check out each race location to see whom. That’s right—we just used “whom.”

      Is CMR a for-profit event or a charity event?

      Color Me Rad is a for-profit event. Each city has a local charity partner which will receive a portion of the proceeds. The amount is based on the size of the event and the involvement of the charity. The charity recruits volunteers whose time is compensated directly to the charity. We also provide extra donation opportunities, and we aim to generate awareness of the charity in the community. We have great relationships with our charity partners. Please contact your local charity if you have further questions.


      from what i read in the article, they deliver exactly as promised.

      anybody who has a problem with it is the one with the problem - not the colour run organizers.

      • Charlie Chaplin

        Wow You can copy and paste… Good for you

        • threenorns

          more to the point, i can google which is clearly more than you can manage.

        • Max Supernova

          Wow! You can snark without reading … good for you!

        • Lauren

          the fact that he HAS to copy and paste and that all you nay-sayers STILL are arguing that CMR et al are some sort of swindling, money grubbing bastards is a problem.

  • Alyssa

    You forgot flash dances and planking lol

  • Fletch F. Fletch

    It’s interesting that you think that you’re an expert on the costs of putting on these runs. I hope people don’t actually believe that a run like the run in Kitchener only cost $28,000 to put on. That is one of the most laughable figures I’ve ever seen. Potential Costs: Participant shirts, sunglasses, tattoos, packaging, city fees, policing, sound systems, stages, tents, dumpsters, car and truck rentals, hotels, toilets, a million other rentals, travel, months of planning, shipping, customs, tons of colored cornstarch, cleanup - wow, that’s just scraping the surface. As for the charity aspect, none of the above races claim to be a charity. They are not. They are from .com’s. They are for profit companies that provide an experience that, combined, MILLIONS of people have enjoyed and continue to enjoy. Since when has a for profit company come under fire for donating to charity? That to me is the real travesty. If McDonald’s donates $1,000,000 to charity at the end of the year is there outrage in the community? “That’s not fair! They made millions of dollars and that’s all they gave to charity?” I think not. Companies take a risk putting these on. Some races are very successful and some lose money, yet they still give to charity either way. I hope the charities aren’t upset that they now have and extra $8,000 to benefit their cause, but, between, you and me, I don’t think they are.

  • Lee Gellatly

    Hey, participants are smart and are quite capable of making their own decisions. At the end of the day, the company is providing a venue that people are finding to be a fun, valuable experience, regardless of where the money goes. Even if there wasn’t the charity factor, people would probably STILL go. If some person decided “hey, this would be fun. Maybe I should make money at it.” It’s our fault for not getting our shit together and capitalizing on the idea first. It’s our fault for not organizing our own not-for-profit event. We need to quit complaining about what corporations do and create our own opportunities for raising money for charity.

  • Lalalala

    Geez, disgruntled much? Listen, I’m a fad hater as much as the next guy but I did this race and I had a lot of fun. I don’t know about the other colour runs but I think threenorns down at the bottom there did a pretty good job of illustrating they’re not scamming anybody nor selling a false sense of happiness. If anything, to me it looks like they’re meerly taking the piss out of themselves and if you really take it seriously may I suggest acquiring a sense of humour?

    Any race or running event EVER charges you for registration (might I add I only paid $25, not $50) so why is CMR getting all the hate? I think these types of runs are a lot less intimidating and get people out who otherwise wouldn’t consider doing a 5k. Sure, these guys are probably making a killing but they’re promoting physical activity in a light-hearted atmosphere - I’d say there’s shadier ways to make a buck.

  • Dan

    I don’t get how this a scam. Its a business supplying a product that people like and people have fun doing. We know exactly what we are buying and would be ignorant to think most of the profit is for charity. These are private enterprises selling a product, not charitable organisations, they are not required to provide to charities but they do anyway. Do they only provide to charities as a marketing scheme? Yes of course. But to say the participants are being scammed is a gross overstatement. Plus these events are extremely good for the communities that hold them because they attract tourists, get people to volunteer and get people to exercise instead of doing nothing that day. Dye runs get more people to participate because they are not competitive, they ARE unique and they are FUN. This is coming from someone who runs competitively in charity runs, competitions and has done Colour Me Rad. I think these events are great for everybody involved.

    • Charlie Chaplin

      Its also a business steeling the market from charities and then competes against them on the same day getting almost 3 times as many participants. But I guess some corporation is more important than fighting cancer.

      • Raiichu

        I, as an individual, didn’t even know Run for the Cure was happening that day. It’s not collectively exhaustive.

      • Max Supernova

        You’re assuming that people running Color Me Rad would have defaulted to Run For The Cure, as opposed to not running. You haven’t proven that.

      • Lauren

        They likely were not “stealing” runners away from Run For The Cure. Have you ever thought about the fact that the city might have only approved them for that weekend? Perhaps it was the only weekend that worked with their own touring schedule? And as Max mentioned, can you actually prove that all of the participants who ran CMR were going to run RFTC? Don’t think you can…

      • Dan

        So if we follow your logic, we shouldn’t have concerts or football games or track and field competitions or any events that compete with charities for their participants? Don’t think any of those events battle cancer either.

  • Nick

    All in all, this is a poorly articulated and incredibly condescending article with no real argument or merit. Even the title is incredibly misleading. It leads us to believe there is definitive proof of some sort of wrongdoing, however all we get is speculation and ignorance on the part of the author.

    “If these unofficial figures are anywhere near accurate, Color Me Rad’s
    profit far outweighs the charitable donation to Kitchener youth sports
    teams of just $8,000″

    The uncertainty in that statement alone is laughable. Not to mention the fact that Colour Runs are themed recreational events. Never have I been to one which has been marketed as a charity event. Maybe the author is conflating ‘run for the cure’ with colour runs. To be fair, pink is a colour… I guess

    • Charlie Chaplin

      ^ All in all this is a poorly articulated and incredibly condescending post. First of all, if you are surprised or taken aback by a misleading news title, welcome to planet earth. Second, while you may not have been marketed to as giving your money to charity, others have. They don’t need to anymore so that’s why they don’t as much as before. Does not change the fact that they have information on their website dedicated to that. Third, the other issue that it is run LIKE a charity run in some regards. They spent $8,000 in a donation so they could get hundreds of volunteers. They avoid having to pay EI and other expenses for employees because they use these charitable volunteers threw charities. But they still get away with a possible six figures in profits. They are nothing but a bunch of crooks trying to make money in a niche market that has been dominated by charities.

      • Max Supernova

        “Second, while you may not have been marketed to as giving your money to charity, others have.”

        When I saw the ads for Color Me Rad, I was under the impression that they gave money to charity. Not that they were a charitable event. That other people couldn’t read the website to find this out (where it is very clearly spelled out) is not the concern of race organizers.

        “They are nothing but a bunch of crooks trying to make money in a niche market that has been dominated by charities.”

        Until these people came along, I had never seen color-themed races before. And I’ve been doing these races for quite some time.

      • Lauren

        Do you not think that other marathons/runs don’t use volunteers instead of paying individuals?? Seriously? Have you never stopped by a marathon in progress? Do you think all of those people are getting paid?? NO…THEY ARE THERE BECAUSE THEY WANT TO BE.

  • WILL

    This is a pretty unfounded and biased article - it is inherently obvious that all of these three companies are for-profit ventures

    • WUKK

      If you think an event like this can operate with an 86% profit margin, you clearly need to quit life as a journalist and start consulting for major companies who deliver large for-profit events like Color Run et al. because you know something event managers and business owners don’t. Fact check before making claims.

      • Charlie Chaplin

        Rough numbers are rough numbers. Before you make claims about a journalist, look some words she uses up in the dictionary, if you know what one is.

        • Max Supernova

          A journalist wouldn’t assume numbers, then base an argument off those assumptions. Facts are your friend.

  • WILL

    This is a pretty biased article - it is inherently obvious that these are large companies who own/operate and deliver events as for-profit ventures. What you mention about donating to charities or groups is common across any major participation event like this.

    You need to check your facts and ask people questions before making statements. If you think that events like this can operate at an 86% profit margin you need to quit your day job and consult for major event companies like Color Run et al. You clearly know something everyone else in the industry doesn’t. OR you need to ask people in the industry about major events in your city before publishing things for others to read and believe.


  • ember

    Wow how cynical. Yes obviously people are greedy. This does not mean that anyone one who pays them cannot find happiness. Sounds like you can’t, but don’t preach grouchyness to people ready to invest in a good time. Also there a lot more costs related to throwing an event than road closures and security. What about insurance, promotion, administration and like, you know, corn starch?

  • The Fourth Norm

    Hey, I’m a participant… guess what? I know exactly what I was sold. Total cost for me and my kids to have a blast for 3 hours? $35 bucks. I was more than happy to give them my money for what I got in return. Good on them for making money. No different than the Badass Dash or “Rib Fest” in my books. Sorry, but your sensationalistic headline is without merit. A simple read of their page will tell you otherwise. Perhaps talking to the participants instead of suggesting your views would make for a better article.

  • Vanessa

    Who cares!!?? I trained for it for 3 months, got my self in shape, shed 25 lbs and have continued to do so a month after the run. For myself it was an awesome experience mentally and physically. In the end they donated money. Every event has a devils advocate…..

    • TN - shingles

      Vanessa that’s great! Good for you! I also recently began to run and have enjoyed the results. Fantastic that you were inspired to get started and have kept it up, and good for you for defending this off-the mark attack of what is a good thing. :)

  • Baakus

    It’s not a scam. I just think the author is just a little dismayed at how a grown-up version of the McDonald’s ball pit is being taken to be some kind of easy way to spiritually renew oneself.

    In a world of KONY 2012, slacktivism, and “Eat Pray Love”, I can’t say that I blame her that much.

    • Oy

      Spiritually renew oneself? Are you serious? Jesus, lighten the F up!

    • Max Supernova

      Yeah, I don’t recall seeing the spiritual renewal part of the advertising. It was marketed as a fun time, with some intentionally outlandish promises too. (It’s called a sense of humour — some people here might try developing one.)

    • Anon

      Goodness gracious, have you seen the “about” section on their website? “When Zoloft and balloon animals can’t seem to raise your spirits”. “Renew your will to live”. “Your gray outlook will turn green like a spring morning”. Yeah, I know it’s tongue-in-cheek, but CHRIST.

  • bluediggada

    Great article. Over and over again, it amazes me how people actively defend their right to a good instagram photo.

    • Max Supernova


  • jones19876

    Tho I totally agree that those runs are complete jokes, I’d cautiously remind you they’re not scams per se : many fundraisers have this weird revenues vs. costs imbalance and thus give away very little of what they actually raise.

  • TN - shingles

    Sorry to burst your somewhat holier than thou sounding bubble on this one. I did my own research on this months ago, when I was considering working for them. They do have to hire paid workers to run the events as well btw. Yes they turn a profit, which is not a bad thing … where profit exists so too do jobs, and with jobs and income people can feed their kids and shop at local businesses etc.. In addition making some reasonable profit, this venture does also raise LARGE sums of money for charities who would not other wise have received those amounts. The charities do agree in advance to a reasonable contract that uses a formula for determining how much % of the amount raised goes towards the charity. It is a GOOD thing that legions of volunteers are part of the equation - this generates a HUGE new resource of volunteers that will show up to help said charity in future (non colour run related) events. Volunteer recruitment is a difficult and expensive aspect of running a charity and the colour run people use THEIR marketing resources and support to help recruit legions of new volunteers. Accelerating community volunteerism is not a bad thing. Getting a bunch of people to train for and participate in a fun run (most organized runs are much longer and inaccessible to many) is not a bad thing. Fitness is not a bad thing. Non toxic Vegetable dyed cornstarch is not a bad thing. Bring people together for loads of fun is not a bad thing. You think $8000 is such a small amount to a kids sports team? Maybe you’d like to suggest they give it back because it was ill gotten off the slave labour of volunteers, using a bastardized religious ritual, and that all of the people who say they’ve had so much fun doing this have been TRICKED! They just THOUGHT they were having fun but maybe…. it was all a colourful illusion!? Ya, I am sure it is such a small amount of money to them
    they that they’d easily part with it, and wouldn’t even miss it. C’mon. I can appreciate your concern, and perhaps an argument could be made to examine the margins (your metrics are off as well), but you’re attack is way off. I never did work for this company and so I have no employment bias, but like I said I did do my research and I was impressed. They’ve created a very positive business/volunteer-recruitment/fundraising/fitness-promotion/community-involvment model! And you’ve really got to consider taking back your comments about the bastardized Hindi festival. They acknowledge taking inspiration from that festival. Don’t get us started on how Easter and a bunch of other modern religious rituals are bastardized versions of pagan festivals. PLease try to reconsider your position, do better research, and perhaps consider re-reporting on this when you can find a positive angle. What if this is actually a GOOD thing and YOU are the villain, doing damage!? Sheesh!

  • TigerMtl

    It’s no worse then the Bad Boy Club Montreal that throws La Bal et Blanc and Black and Blue in Montreal every year. They rake in millions and donate a portion of the proceeds to charities that support people living with HIV (last year $15,000 on a $890,000 profit). I got news for you this has been going on for eons.

  • sheed

    If idiots want to pay $50 to run 5km with colored powder all over themselves I don’t see what the problem is. You can’t teach stupid.

    • Max Supernova

      Another one who must be a lot of fun at parties.

    • Anon

      Our parties are more fun than having to work three hours to pay for something most people waste their gym memberships avoiding, only with the added bonus of having an extra-urgent load of laundry to do afterwards.

  • Karkat Vantas

    I like the shoutout to Hinduism, but what’s the point of this beyond being really fucking cynical?

  • James

    Haters will hate.
    Just to be clear I haven’t personally participated in a colour (yes COLOUR) run, but my wife has. She enjoyed it. It was everything that was promised to her, colourful, active, and fun with her friends. To the author - There are worse things in the world to complain about. I suggest you find one.

    • Anon

      Like complaining about how people spell “color”?

  • Jony

    Hmm, I wonder how many defensive commenters have some variety of a colour run photo on as their Facebook display?

    • Lauren

      who cares if they do? they are defensive because they were told EXACTLY what they were getting into…and they had FUN! who knew?

      PS. my FB photo looks awesome…

      • Anon

        It’s a not often spoken truth .. people are partaking in these events so the have interesting things to boast about on their instagram/fb.

  • Josh

    I think a lot of people (including the author) kind of miss the point of this race. Few people sign up for this with the intent of “donating” to a charity or “finding inner peace.” This race is simply just a fad that just so happens to get people out of their beds on Saturday morning to go have fun with friends in a noncompetitive race. Also the idea that corporations are getting rich under the false pretense of giving to charity is absurd. The runners are supposed to be the ones donating via embedded giving when they buy their ticket, buying tickets through a charity site, or donating directly after the race.

  • Luke

    there are wackier, way more harmful and dehumanizing, scams/fads that white people waste their time and money with (i.e. apple products, fashion, keurigs). Who cares if a few people had an idea to get people involved to do healthy events so they could make money AND give a little something at least (or in many cases, a lot, as this article seems devoid of research) to charities? You shouldn’t discourage people from doing something that could potentially help a great charity, as long as that person is inclined to contact the charity and ask how their contribution of time and money to the event will best help the charity.

    • Anon

      Haven’t had to buy a new cell phone in four years because of my “fad”.
      But I agree, Keurigs are the devil incarnate ;)

  • Raiichu

    They’re donating to charity? Cool. Didn’t know that.

  • G Ball

    For $45 you can get an quarter ounce of weed. It’s clear from reading this article that the author spent $45 of her parent’s ‘tuition fund’ money to get high before she wrote this. She should have got off her computer and ran; maybe she had paint in her eye. Dammit, I’m confused now. And short $45.

  • Alex Ferini

    Colour Me Rad does not boast itself on its charity work. This is a business that provides a service for people. Like any business, it attempts to make money. It is not a not-for-profit organization nor does it market itself as such.

    The point of these runs is to get people active. As someone who just finished the Color Me Rad in Kitchener, I can say that this event provided a safe and fun environment for people of all shapes, sizes, and ages to run/walk in a non-competitive atmosphere. I honestly didn’t even know it gave money to charity so for me, this is a big plus. 8,000$ for a local charity? Better than 0.
    People who sign up to do these types of runs do it for the exercise and the fun atmosphere not because they expect 100% of the proceeds to go to charity.

    I find your writing extremely self-absorbed and ridiculously condescending. This article is not well thought out or researched. Save the egotistical writing for when you’ve made a name for yourself. Otherwise, you just piss people off (which I think based on the comments, you have).

  • Ashley

    Its a fun event for people to get together and work out and the color thing is just a different spin on things. Not everything is a conspiracy so you little amateur journalists should find something worthwhile to write about before you get out of university..

  • :p

    What a Debbie Downer! I did the race, had no idea profits were going to charity, and had a great time! Any of the comments regarding everlasting happiness are clearly fluff and hyperbole - anyone that thinks otherwise must have English as a second language such that they cannot grasp nuance!

  • Laura

    I think this is unfair. I learned about Holi in University and thought it was a super awesome celebration — and knew that I couldn’t partake as I am Catholic not Hindi. I signed up for Colour me Rad, not because I thought it would bring me the eternal happiness the world is seeking, but because it sounded like a lot of fun. And it was. Every time I literally ran into a colour station I was elated to be blasted with the powder adding to the palette. They did offer a percentage of proceeds to Alberta Cancer Foundation, but I signed up for the experience. And Lord knows, I have spent more than $50 (FYI I only paid $35 for my spot -early bird catches the worm) for a lot of experiences and things. This was actually one of the healthier options. The guarantee that my outlook would be brighter was somewhat true — we all started out wearing white — at the end we were a rainbow of bright colours, therefore my outlook (the view from my particular place) was brighter. It may just be a fad, but I am happy that I got to be a part of it. I had an awesome day with friends and strangers, put in some miles, and yes, have the FB pics to prove it.

  • Taylor

    Stop being a hater! …and go to the happiest 5k on the planet:)

  • Caroline Lightowler

    Although this article is heavily biased and gives a ridiculously inaccurate summary of the costs involved, I do agree that the advertising I’ve seen for many colour runs seems to imply that the run is for charity, rather than making money for a for-profit company. Plenty of companies provide paid activities for profit, though, and I don’t really see why a colour run is any more of a scam than paying for any other activity or event.

    But if you’re looking for a colour run that is ENTIRELY for a great charity, check out , which was held earlier this year in London, Ontario, and I’m really hoping it becomes an annual event. Amazing fun, organized by and for the sole purpose of raising money to support the wonderful work they do. There - you can do this for fun AND charity!

    • Lauren

      thank you for actually providing a viable solution to those in So.Ont. who are (perhaps secretly, yes - for you cynics out there) wanting to do a fun run AND donate!!

  • Waugh

    This article motivated me to speak to one of the sponsored charities and hear their opinion on it. They had no issue with Color Me Rad’s profit model. Almost all charity events/runs/etc operate with the same model. Its nothing new. Where the real donations are generated are in personal/team sponsorships. Here is the response I received:

    “Thank you for the email and concern about this event. It is true that Color Me Rad is a for profit business and most of the funds generated came from participants collecting pledges. However, the event organizer that we worked with was very clear on this point before we agreed to partner with them. From our perspective, this event was a huge success and very worthwhile for the Foundation. “

  • Justin

    You know what? I think I’ll just go take a run by myself with headphones on or maybe even bring some friends with me. All for free! I will also bring a bag of colored corn starch and just toss it in my friend’s face and just watch the hysterical joy arise in him, bringing warmth to my soul. I would then proceed to use the 45$ I would have spent other wise at the color run to eat a feast at a good restaurant and buy a round of drinks for my friends and then donate the 2$ that would have been donated otherwise, to the charity of my choice.

  • Amanda

    This just seems like somebody pissed in the author’s cornflakes this morning. If someone wants to pay 50 bucks to get colours blasted at them, who are you to object? And who are you to judge what constitutes someone’s “life-changing experience”?

  • Chris Pickrell

    I love how a lot of people defend these runs as run by “for profit” companies, but these are probably the same people who think for profit companies are ruining the economy, like private insurance.

    • Max Supernova

      Well, actually, the objection is that the author is characterizing the run organizers as a charity run, when that’s not what they are.

      Also, nice assumptions on your part. Care to back that up?

      Also, it’s quite possible to be upset with *some* companies that are doing bad things without thinking *every* company is doing bad things.

      • Chris Pickrell

        Ummm, ok.

  • Mark

    I’ll be honest, I found this article kind of dumb… It seems they’re not attacking anything but the fact that other people are having fun in a way that the author doesn’t approve of. It sounds like it was written by a crotchety old grouch who also thinks soccer is faux-fun because the ball keeps landing in their yard.

    They attack it for misrepresenting themselves as unique and something that will change your life. Well, a lot of movies people watch are described that way, and a lot of tourist traps people visit are described that way, and a lot of things people buy are described that way. That doesn’t mean we should stop buying and doing things that make us happy because our lives have not suddenly improved, it means that your being offered something fun that will probably provide you with good memories. Also, the whole ‘not being unique’ thing; well despite the fact that there are 3 companies in North America who offer similar events, running through the street getting coated in dye is a pretty unique experience… I can say I certainly haven’t done that before and if it happened to me, regardless of the fact that other people have done it too, I would likely describe it as unique.

    They also try to make it seem like the price is inflated and they try to charge you much more by representing themselves as being more fun. When you compare prices though, most runs, charity or not, are about the same price or even more. The price of these colour runs are actually pretty affordable and they are also unique in that they promote it as something to do with your friends and tend to offer really great group rates.

    Finally, the charity thing. I agree that it would be great if they gave more to charity, but the fact is, the amount they choose to donate is really not something I think people should be criticizing. These runs are extremely popular and would have about the same turnout regardless. From a business standpoint, they really have no reason to be donating to local charities. Most of these runs are not outright promoted as being charity runs and most of the people running don’t even know that money is being donated, they’re just there to run and have a good time.

    Simply put, these runs are fun, nothing more, nothing less. They cost about the same as a regular run yet add a fun twist that makes the much more memorable. I really fail to see how this is a bad thing…

  • Kirby

    “All major color run companies note that a portion of their profit is given to local or national charities, though the amount varies based on the charitable organization and the size of the event.”

    Allison, they didn’t promise all proceeds. They didn’t say 50%, 100%. They said a portion.

    People suffer cognitive dissonance when they get duped by buzz words like “Portion of Proceeds” and I get the feeling you might be in that group.

    Did you…get duped? Bummer.

    Did you attend, pay the $45, $50, $100, whatever you pay. And did you feel good knowing at least some of your money; albeit 3.33% is going to a charity?

    I would doubt though that charity was your main reason and you did it because your it looks fun and/or your friends were doing it too. It does look fun. I would have gone to a similar event in Hamilton had time allowed. But it is entertainment. And subsequently, thats what you paid for. It sucks. But its true.

    Put it this way; You go to a movie. Buy your ticket at the counter and the attendant says, “So you know, a portion of all of our ticket sales for this movie are going to help XYZ Of The World Fund.”

    You think “Great! I’m helping!”

    You feel good… buy popcorn…. and settle into… I don’t know, Titanic 2 - The Reckoning. You don’t give the charity a second thought because its not what you paid for. You paid to watch the flick.

    You paid…to get covered in dye with your friends.

    I don’t knock your effort to shine some light on this, but tell me I’m wrong. Tell me you did it because money was going to help something. But if it was, did you ask who? And how much of it?

    From what I’ve seen no one was defrauded and no one was lied to. And of course, putting on an event costs money, time and the chaos of logistics (more time) as you’ve shown with your breakdown above. Outside of knowing what they’re time costs, it looks like they could have pitched more, but who knows. You’d have to ask them.

    It would be wonderful if the event was 100% to whatever cause. Even 25% sounds good. But low fat doesn’t mean no fat. And portion, certainly doesn’t mean all.

  • m

    allison if you could do me a favor and find out which companies/charities donate 70% or more of their money raised to the actual cause i would amazed . Companies raising money to keep for themselves is not a fad .if people are ignorant enough to believe everything they’re told then they were probably going to waste that $50 anyway.

    i did this run in London with my family and had a great time .being outside for a 5km run getting a little dirty and meeting new people in a new experience , i could think of worse ways to spend an afternoon.

  • Bishop

    “If these unofficial figures are anywhere near accurate”

  • Jules

    This looks like fun, often we have to pay to have fun.

  • xzanthius

    I ran through my house, dousing myself in different colored printer ink. My house is very colorful now… I don’t feel any happier. Maybe it’s the corn starch.

  • M Bishop

    “If these unofficial figures are anywhere near accurate”

  • Kitty

    She used the wrong form of percent. Not all color runs are these horrible things that are about making money. And most people who are serious about running don’t run in them. Lighten up.

  • hurpderp

    the irony here lies in the “colour run” ad sitting beside this article

  • brandon

    A few points: 1. They are businesses and do not advertise themselves as a charity/non- profit - which means they are in it to make money.
    2. Whether they donated $8,000 or $80 - it’s money the charity did not have before.
    3. I HIGHLY doubt that most of the people who ran this race did it because of the charity affiliation
    I wish more journalists, or would be journalists, would write about important things and not this meaningless FLUFF.

  • Jimmy

    I don’t see why this article is specific to color runs? Why doesn’t someone check to see where the money from normal 5k runs goes?

    • Lauren

      for that matter…why doesn’t someone check to see where the money goes from a charity fundraiser? not all to the charity i can count on that…

  • mattyb

    awww.. is someone butt hurt she doesn’t have friends to run with or is too big of a bitch to be invited?

    • LookAtThisIdiot

      Awww is someone butt hurt that they think doing one of the most generic things in the entire country makes them a unique free spirit.

      Last week me and three of my friends hitched a ride on a train all the way to Seattle and lived with a collective of artists until we had to hitch back. You run a short distance and get powder thrown at you so you can have Facebook pictures that look like all your other generic lemming friend’s Facebook pictures.

  • Max Supernova

    This was a terribly written article, full of assumptions that don’t seem to bear much resemblance to reality. Would it have been all that difficult to actually obtain the numbers for putting on this race? If Color Me Rad wouldn’t have provided it, perhaps another run would? Why just assume the numbers?

    Also, did you consider asking the charity what they thought of their involvement? That is, did they feel taken advantage of? Did they get what they expected to get? That’s a pretty big thing to leave out of the article.

    And as for this:

    “The event is a bastardization of Holi, a Hindu religious celebration.”

    [citation needed]

    • LookAtThisIdiot

      The only citation you need is googling it and seeing the similarities you thick moron.

      • Max Supernova

        No. I’m not doing the author’s homework for her. Your response is kind of like me asking for the name of a good plumber and you giving me the phone listings and telling me to find one in there.

        And just because things are similar doesn’t mean that one’s a “bastardization.” That’s the part that needs to be proven.

        Also, thick moron? That’s the nicest thing anyone’s called me all day. :)

  • Antoinette

    MEOW! Let’s hammer down the negativity when people are just trying to bring a little positivity and color to their lives.

    “Your entrance fee definitely helps make the corporation running the show richer [SO DOES ALMOST ANYTHING THESE DAYS], might help a local organization [TO TAKE HER EXAMPLE $8,000 IS BETTER THAN $0 ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU'RE TALKING SMALL/LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS], and likely won’t help you stay happy beyond whatever joy you reap from ‘likes’ on your rainbow of new profile pictures [FOR ME IT WAS A MARK OF SUCCESS AND PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENT THAT I COULD RUN A 5K - BECAUSE I DID RUN THE ENTIRE THING ALTHOUGH YOU DON'T HAVE TO - AND IT WAS JUST A FUN DAY THAT MAKES ME SMILE WHEN I THINK BACK ON IT.].”

    • LookAtThisIdiot

      Oh god you color run chicks are absolutely interchangeable.

  • Mike

    That was some very conservative math considering you didn’t include the packaging and production of all dyed corn starch, the free product tosses, refreshments such as water and granola bars given out to each runner and the t-shirt you receive upon arrival.

    I would also like to point out that even if the donations are not as sizable as they should be you can not forget the stimulation of the local economy for each host city!

    I myself ran the colour run in Montreal and all though I did not experience this so called brighter outlook on life I did get to spend and excellent afternoon with family and friends getting exercise.

    The people that were looking for more out of the color run, are the same individuals that fall for any marketing scheme. I say we let corporations take advantage of them, its natural selection at it’s finest. Coming from a business background I don’t see the harm, they aren’t advertising the run as a charitable event. Anyone with a brain can see that yes there is a going to be a profit from this and yes it will be large. I am just sorry I didn’t come up with the idea first!

    “The Color Run, a for-profit company” A quote was taken directly from their website.

    • Anon

      The “stimulation of the local economy” is actually something most towns appear to want to avoid like the plague. Events like this tend to put a bit of a strain on local services (including street cleaning, policing, etc.) that organizers find it somewhat hard to find a town willing to take it on, and when they do it’s only after they agree to a host of unusual stipulations and restrictions. That’s why so many outdoor concerts and festivals don’t allow re-entry. It’s not because the organizers want to keep you locked in, it’s because the host city demanded it, even though re-entry would allow patrons to leave the festival and partake in local restaurants and such.

  • Jony

    There are a ton of unoriginal arguments here that colour runs are for profit companies and don’t promise donations to charities. Ya, you’re right, but the author agreed with you : “All major colour run companies note that a portion of their profit is given to local or national charities, though the amount varies based on the charitable organization and the size of the event.”

    And then simply described how one run in one city chose to allocate its money, with figures provided by the City. Anyway, I think its not about the charitable aspect, its about how colour runs are a sort of funny new thing people do.

    • Max Supernova

      Except the headline reads: Colour runs are a faux-charity scam

      This would seem to indicate that despite that one line, that the author feels the charity aspect of this is a scam, when that’s not the case. Also, the author seems to have mischaracterized the motives of runners here as being primarily charitable, when it seems more likely to be fun-based.

      All of this would seem to belie your point.

    • Lauren

      The whole part about “scamming” local charities…that’s where the problem lies. Is $8000 not better than $0? And the “author” (yes, I included quotations) hasn’t included the other side of the coin…did she contact CMR or other colour runs to ask about their cost structure? No…she didn’t. Also, the “cheap, contracted labour” - ie. volunteers - VOLUNTEER (provide a service without monetary renumeration). The organization agreed to provide them, yes, but the people agreed to participate…yes?

      • Teagan

        Maybe I’m interpreting the headline wrong, but I read the headline to mean “faux-charity” as in “looks like a charity” scamming participants, not charities.

        I think the article is in line with this, it outlines an opinion on how people are not getting what colour runs market themselves as (the happiest 5km). Sure, this doesn’t encompass all people, but because its such a quickly growing new phenomenon, it probably gets some people. But voicing an opinion on an opinion site makes perfect sense to me.

        The headline is definitely a little misleading but it was probably edited, and I hope people are getting past the headline anyway.

        • Lauren

          the run doesn’t make itself look like a charity at all. It only says that it donates a portion of the proceeds to charity…that shouldn’t qualify as “faux-charity” at all - that is simply business.

          Clearly the “author” also doesn’t understand the concept of comedy. If she had ever actually read the colour me rad site (as an example) she could have seen that it is loaded with “outlandish promises” that are so VERY clearly there to make people laugh.

          Aside from the headline being misleading, the article is awful.

  • Audrey

    Well, if you correctly read what’s written on Color Me Rad rules, it’s written black on white that it is a for-profit organization. If you don’t read and run believing you’ll change the world, you can’t complain afterwards. The word “scam” is a little bit excessive. You go there to have fun. The best way of helping causes is to donate directly to the charitable organization you want to help, not to buy stuff or participate to activities that donate only a part of their profit.

    • Jony

      Again, this is already acknowledged in the article: “All major colour run companies note that a portion of their profit is given to local or national charities, though the amount varies based on the charitable organization and the size of the event.”

      I’ll emphasize: “the amount varies,”

      Why is everyone nailing this down as the point of the article?

      • Max Supernova

        Did you read the headline?

      • Lauren

        cause the word “scam” is used? should you perhaps looks up the word scam?

  • AK

    I understand what this article is trying to achieve, and the critical approach to the concept of “Colour Run’s” is valid. However, upon investigating a few of the official websites for such events, I noticed that the bulk of the advertising is focused around pure entertainment and healthy living - only a small section on charity. The website also states that they are “for-profit” organizations and never makes false or misleading claims about the intent of the run or contribution to charity.

    It is also important to note that individuals buy entertainment every day - whether it is going to a concert, a movie, or watching television. It could be argued that this form of entertainment is more beneficial because at least it somewhat promotes a healthy lifestyle, and encourages young people to get active.

  • Stephen Crilly

    Some great points. I could see how younger kids might get a wrong impression.

    I’m not 100% sure there is much of a scam taking place here.

    I Ran the Run or Dye race here in Ottawa with my wife and a few friends.
    I knew there was some sort of charity involved, which is great, but was more interested in having a good time and scratching off another box on the bucket list.
    We had a great time. The dance party was a good time. The paint, good time.
    This run was actually a lot of fun.
    In my industry of work I frequently am involved with/attend events similar to these (conferences, events, concerts, etc.)
    It takes paying people to run the dance party, it takes paying people to scream all day into a microphone to keep up the energy and motivation, the merch is an upfront cost… but if you’re really lucky, which it sounds like these guys are, you’ll come out with a profit.
    There is no moral ambiguity to provide an experience people are willing to pay for, that makes a profit and gives some back to the community. Some times, people are okay with that… and sometimes people just want a good time.

    To support your points, it is sad to have people thinking that happiness comes from paying to throw paint at each other and taking selfies while “coloured RAD”… but is it really a bad thing for someone to BE happy while doing those things? To be happy to actually FINISH a 5k and wanting it to be fun? What about being happy to pay $40 to have a ‘colourful’ day out with family and friends?

    Even if my $40 made some guy richer… I had fun. It’s what I paid for.

    just some thoughts from someone who is not a child, who works in the charity sector, who paid the money and had a great time.

    p.s. I believe it was advertised (for the run we had here) that all of the money from the parking lot ($5 per car) would go to the kids charity advertised, which indeed legally needs to get to that charity.

  • Cee Dubb


  • Owen

    Okay. Apparently we not only have a generation of people stupid enough to pay obscene amounts of money to run in a public space, but also a generation of people who can’t read.

    Leonard clearly acknowledges the fact that these are for profit businesses and nowhere in the article is she saying that they are ripping off participants. As for the dollar values, they are supplementary to the article because they are besides the point.

    Leonard is clearly writing about the cultural impact of these events and how happiness is now something that can be packaged and sold, five kilometres at a time.

    This is a great piece, and as for those who are too ignorant (to put it nicely, you group of asshats) to come up with an educated response to this, wipe the coloured corn starch out of your eyes and read the damn article next time

    • Max Supernova

      I did read the damn article. I found nothing but assumptions and more assumptions. It’s not a good article. It’s a guess.

      “As for the dollar values, they are supplementary to the article because they are besides the point.”

      When your headline uses the word scam, no, the dollar values are pretty central.

      • Jony

        Not to worry Mr. Supernova, no one is saying you can’t be that guy who does nothing but troll Albatross articles anymore. Take a breath.

        • Max Supernova

          Funny how anyone you slightly disagree with is a troll.

  • Kdave

    They make no bones about the fact that this is a For Profit organized run! That being said it is a easy and great way to bring a community together to simply have a little fun!
    Wonderland for example (a 100% for profit company owned by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company) offers the same “excitement” and a one day addition ticket is in the region of $60 yet to pay $20 to participate in a fun colourful run is frowned upon? #priorities people!

  • nkbel

    As someone who has participated in Color Me Rad, it was never advertised as a charitable event in any capacity. The website explicitly states in the FAQs section that they are a for-profit company. Then it highlights their charitable partners and is arguably pretty transparent about how that process works. Calling it a scam is a little far fetched.

    Quite frankly I could go buy a gym membership, or enrol in yoga classes for the same amount of money. These companies will not be donating any of that money to charity per say. I’m not sure why suddenly it’s a huge deal to have to pay to engage in something active that is run by an organization, and not have virtually all of that money given to charity. Obviously the purpose of any company that advertises themselves as “for-profit” is to well, turn a profit. If they advertised themselves as a charitable organization the story would be different.

  • Matt Verbaan

    for those talking religion on a post about faux donations!

    also i hear the Susan G Kumon (spelling) cancer one is also ‘barely’ a charity

  • Brook

    Unfortunately, I don’t think people join these because it goes to the charity. While it is sad that not more go towards them at least they are giving something. For the people who join I think it’s more for the experience and exercise they can get from an event such as this so to call it a scam is a little much.

  • Jay

    If you check the website, no where does it say that it is going to make a donation to a charity. It leaves that option for person registering to chose how much they want to donate.

  • Adam Coe

    or you could save 38.50 and buy a set of watercolours from the dollar store and look like a stupid hippie for way less. OR you could just stay home and run up and down your stairs and stop bothering people and tying up traffic. what a great way to fuck up a bunch of other people’s drive home and not even help a charity! your moms must be proud.

  • Shay

    When did this event have to become yet another thing of controversy? As far as I am concerned it is simply a fun event to do with your friends — when else do you get to get sweaty and dirty while high on endorphins?? Not everyone is into tough girl/guy challenges and I think these runs are a great example of how to motivate people to get out there see that exercise can be fun. Any colour run I have seen hasn’t marketed itself as being a charity event as the top priority — if you want to do a charity event, bike for MS or run for Breast Cancer — this event is giving people an opportunity to be a part of something within their community. Any money given to any organisation is just bonus — and as far as I am concerned… who cares if it is a registered charity or not. Just because they are not registered, does not mean they are not doing good in their community.

  • Stacey

    I imagine the people who pay $40+ to do these sad colour runs are the same “free spirits” who have in the past year become electronic music fans and wear their flower hairdos and coloured sunglasses to music festivals.

    Although I love to laugh at you people, I also really do feel sorry for you. No direction, just following the most recent trends of the day.

    • Megan

      Wtf? It’s just a fun way to spend a Saturday morning. How is it sad? Why would you feel sorry for people who are doing a 5k with their friends and having a blast doing it?

      • Stacey

        It’s sad because MOST (maybe not you, but most) of the tweens/teens/young adults doing it are doing it solely so they can post pictures on social media of their little escapades and hope to make ppl envy their “full” lives. I’m sorry, but if you don’t find that sad, you and I have differing opinions/definitions of sad.

        • Emma

          That is one hell of an assumption.

          • LookAtThisIdiot

            Truth hurts.

        • Lauren

          really, people have actually LIKED this statement? I think you might be the sad one if you think getting out and doing something with friends (regardless of if it’s a run where people get corn starch thrown at them) is sad. Is this something you don’t get to do often? I mean go out with your friends? Do you have any?

  • Megan

    Wow this is bitchy. The whole point is to hang out with your friends and have a fun/ridiculous time. Although your claims about profits vs charity may be valid that doesn’t mean you need to attack the fun of it. You come off as a jealous loner who wasn’t invited to go with her friends …

    • LadyAmethyst

      Attacking the article writer makes you sound bitchier.

      • Megan

        The article attacks participants so she’s asking for it

        • LadyAmethyst

          Way to take the high road.

          • Megan

            This article is personally insulting to participants and I think it’s an unfair judgement. I’m sorry I didn’t take the high road - how would you feel if someone wrote a condescending article about something you’ve enjoyed and then when you express that it’s an unfair claim fellow commentors are even more condescending?

    • LookAtThisIdiot

      And you sound like every other generic and entirely interchangeable YOLO screaming generic sorority girl/future accidental mother.

  • Jason Mills

    I’m really failing to see the problem here. Participants get to participant in some healthy, community-based fun, and the charity gets $8000 it wouldn’t have gotten if the event hadn’t happened. Sure it might not be a “charitable act”; but everything about it seems to be making the lives of others a little better.

    And so what if a corporation makes some money off of it also? Good on them for coming up with an idea, organizing, and running the event. Good on them for giving some of that profit back to local community charities. I don’t understand the cynicism; I see everyone winning in something like this.

  • bb

    All of the companies you reference say that a “portion” of the proceeds go to charity. If people want to spend 50 bucks to have running clothes ruined so be it. $8000 to local charity is better than nothing. At least it gets people off the internet.

  • Andy Fitton

    I love the way you’re so cynical please marry me

  • modsuperstar

    I recently did the Badass Dash in Kitchener, and it cost me $45. For my money I received a decent active wear shirt. I’d guess if I were buying it retail it would probably be $15. I also received a beer ticket and a meal ticket for I believe a hamburger and chips and a drink. Something you’d probably pay $5 for usually at a charity BBQ. The beer usually goes for $4-6 at a restaurant. There was free water bottles, orange slices and energy bars at the finish line. I also received a Badass Dash medal for finishing. So of the $45 I spent I’d say I recouped probably $30 of going rate, retail value from the event. I know those costs are cheaper and there is a profit margin within those prices, but those are what I would value them at. Most other runs I’ve taken part in have similar setups, where you get a free running shirt and maybe a swag bag along with water, fruit and snacks supplied at the end. I didn’t run in this race, but as I understand there were similar accommodations for the participants.

    To me your beef with this event seems petty and superficial at best. They never positioned this run as a charity run. It was a fun run with a twist. Running a business and making a profit is how the world works.

  • Fuck

    Whoever made this article is probably a fat bastard and hates life.

    • Tasha

      I agree this article is insulting and uninformed.

  • Ian Shalapata

    We wrote about this in July, after the Windsor event.

  • Rhamadin

    I see the point in this, but I also am very pro events that help get participants excited about exercise. If you have ever done 5k runs before $45 is a pretty common price to participate. I don’t so much think that Color runs are a scam, or a way to take ideas from cultural heritages, but maybe it is a way to get people excited about being outside and active instead of on the computer or watching t.v.

    Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of valid points in this article, but most companies that we buy from are the same way. Companies are there to make a profit, and they prosper by having a product that sells. Crossfit and other exercise fads are the same way. I don’t know if it is really worth complaining about when they do actually donate a portion of their profits to charities, or athletic teams in need in the area that is hosting them.

    As far as the happiness thing goes, this is definitely not going to make you that much happier, but consider that a lot of the runners are people who normally are not athletic and ‘train’ for this event specifically. getting off the couch can increase your motivation and happiness in life. Perhaps that is one of the things they are referring to, since this is a fad and everyone wants to be part of it even those people who are not that excited about movement.

  • anthony

    The problem is that it is a for profit business staffed by charity
    volunteers while “agents” are paid a commission for the free labour
    provided by those who believe they are helping a charity.
    I think this article is appropriate.

  • LookAtThisIdiot

    Like this is going to sway any of the ABSOLUTELY 100% GENERIC bubble heads that do this nonsense.

  • YarnDragon

    Not all colour runs are money grabs. The Canadian Cancer Society recently had a number of Colour Runs in Ontario “Colours of Hope”. Each colour represented a particular cancer. Since it was put on by the charity itself, the money actually went to the charity.

  • m

    their website clearly says they are a “for-profit” organisation and that they sometimes team up with local charities-not that they ARE a charitable organisation. i don’t see any misrepresentation going on here.

  • Ivan

    Although it’s true this event did profit a lot out of the event, I wouldn’t consider the ‘Colour Me Run’ event a charity scam. The main focus of the event and PR of the run was about having fun, it’s actually listed in the FAQ on the site “Of course! Just come and have fun!”, very different from organized charitable events like Ride to ‘Conquer Cancer’ or Sporting Life 10k where their main focus is charity. I would categorize The ‘Colour me Run’ to similar events such as Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, etc.

    You should also do your due diligence and research the charitable events I listed and compare how much profit they make on their events as well, you would be very surprised!

  • D-Unit

    This article keeps switching between ‘colour’ and ‘color’. Which is it? Pick one, stick with it.

  • DaddyGuru

    what’s next ,pagan rituals where they get “nailed to wood”.

  • sam

    ok so Kitchener may have gotten about $8000. But how much did they need? That can go quite a long ways with the right sports league.

  • Vh

    I’ve worked in the Charity world, specifically, I analyzed grant proposals from charities, especially their budgets, before they were approved for funding. The writer of this article clearly knows very little about how charities work. I have never dealt with any of the charity runs, to be honest, but I have other charitable events. The writers “guessimates” for total profit are definitely WAY off. Where are salaries and benefits? Those who work “behind the scenes” are certainly full-time employees, and there is probably a lot of them. Where are administrative costs? Office space/rent, phone bills, internet bills, photocopying, office supplies, etc? And where is the biggest part of running a charity event - advertising? You need people to come up with marketing strategies, social media, a website etc, to put the message out there. This is REALLY expensive, and requires expertise. You also need people who can organize with city administrators to coordinate the event. The writer also didn’t calculate the cost of T-shirts and the other products that are given to runners at registration, this must also be subtracted. They also need to rent out rooms for pre-registration, usually a hotel conference room. And what about sponsorship? Travel expenses? Photographers? Promoters? Who’s collecting the money and how - all this costs is expensive. Venue and security costs are probably much less for Kitchener than they are in other major cities, and the registration costs are the same for ALL race locations, so that must also be taken into account. What do you think the Canadian Cancer Society’s budget looks like? You think most of the donations they collect go to cancer research or support programs? WRONG. Most of it covers administrative costs and advertising. Overall, this has “student journalist” written all over it, it’s not professional quality, sorry.

  • Guest

    Great Article

  • Graeme

    Most of the people I know who did the colour run were doing it for a fun hangout time, and weren’t necessarily doing it to raise money for charity link cancer runs or other types of that sort. We heard that they donate a portion to a charity, and were like, “cool”. If you want to do a charity race, do a charity race. Color me Rad at least does not promote it as a charity run whatsoever…it is more like a bonus. I did the run and it was incredibly fun.

  • Stacey

    oh fooey, I hate to see Color Me Rad tarred with such a nasty brush as those who would call it a faux-charity are. The website certainly doesn’t claim to be a non-profit organization. I can say from my own experience I didn’t even know there was any kind of charity involved. It certainly wasn’t advertised as such the way run for the cure is. For my friends and I, it changed 8 lives, we used it as incentive to become more active, and to push ourselves together. That coloured cornstarch was just motivation to get to the next km marker. In a society where obesity rates have soared shouldn’t there be more positive press for events like this that motivate “hyped-up 20-somethings” to get out and be more active?

  • Cassidy

    Also- Holi is not much of a “religious celebration” anymore in India- Kind of like Christmas in North America. The holiday is kept up because throwing colors at each other is just a fun thing to do! Why not make a 5k outta it?

  • Bawss

    who gives a #&@% what a “20-something” spends their own money on? … to me the idea is silly, however i dont see any harm in these people getting together in mass effect to spread joy and contagious happiness to others around the city. I for one would personally much rather see colourful cornstarch hurled through the air here in Canada opposed to bullets or mass violence in the streets. besides there are plenty of other pointless demonstrations in the streets everyday that may not appeal to you, yet may give an individual just what they need. So to whatever ancient arsehole who wrote this article, grow up and act your age, appreciate demonstrations of kindness and fun, lifes too short to worry about how someone else spends or makes* there money for that matter. dont be jealous because you didnt think of it first. dont even get me started on worse scams.

  • mytai

    It’s amazing how an article about Colour Runs being a money making scam to religious arguments in the comments.

  • Patrick Green

    Trying to connect a religion with a 5k? Though they are not donating a huge amount of money to charities they still are donating some. Why even write about this?

  • Soosan

    Hindi is a language… Hindu is a religion. Come one folks!

  • Allison

    The same can be said about any charity event or other guise, to an extent.
    I get that most charities are a scam, but why are people so quick to ruin another’s fun? I totally agree that YOLO is annoying (more annoying when it’s a hash tag on Facebook, but I digress) among other things, but I’m sure when you were younger you did things to make the “older people” annoyed as well.
    It takes time and energy to be annoyed about something like this, why not use it to do something…I don’t know, productive?

  • Rick

    This is a business! They are doing this to make a profit! As someone to organizes events you grossly underestimated their expenses. I would peg their overhead at close to $100,000 plus the direct costs of giving shirts, bags and whatever else to each participant. These runs actually say very little about donating to charity. Their profit is probably about $50,000, pretty modest considering the risk they are taking.

  • Mouluscus

    color me rad team up with a different charity, and give their profit back to the charity…. how is that a scam???

  • Liniki


  • Trixie

    I love Christmas!!

  • Andi

    This is a very misleading article. There are several things to consider… I’m quite certain those charities on
    the receiving end appreciate a donation of any size!!! an extra $8000+ they
    didn’t have before is pretty damn good!
    I will happily participate again, even if CMR chose to completely stop
    supporting local charities completely. Simply because it’s FUN!! Since when is it
    wrong to pay to have a good time? People do that everyday in all kinds of situations and there are certainly worse things to spend our money on. A typical charity run usually requires
    a minimum donation to even be qualified to participate. I ran in the Underwear Affair and had to personally raise a minimum of $300 in
    donations. If I wasn’t successful…no running or fun allowed!! it’s really sad for those who want to support a cause and CAN NOT participate due to not enough funds being raised. So if donations are really important to us as participants in these fun runs,
    we could do the same thing and ask to be sponsored with donations from friends
    and family…and hand the cheque directly over to the charity, right?!
    no one is stopping us from doing that. Also worth mentioning, if you
    look into things further, you will find that even the charities make a
    profit. *gasp!* What percentage of our donated dollars actually goes towards the cause?!? THAT is the
    question to be asking!! In my opinion, the finger is being pointed in the wrong
    direction. So just enjoy the freakin’ party and get color bombed because it’s a BLAST!! It’s well worth the registration fee and helping a great cause is just a bonus. :)

  • Suz

    This is coming from “the”

    The Albatross was started by a group of people who spent way too much time at their respective college papers and decided it wasn’t quite time for real jobs (not that anyone would hire us anyway). We think Canada is a terribly interesting place but that a lot of Canadian news is insanely boring. So we started this blog to start to change things.

    How legit….

  • Mike

    Allison spoke some truth. COPE.
    Regardless of whether or not these fun runs are for profit, why even include this charity component then? Why don’t they find their own volunteers or even better, hire all the people needed for the race…
    Oh wait, because it’s cheap labour! Just like it’s pointed out in the article…
    Dangle a big donation over a charity… get them to supply FREE labour in the form of volunteers. You make a donation (and get some back via taxes, AWESOME!). PROFIT! In the end, it’s CHEAP BELOW MINIMUM WAGE LABOUR.
    All that so some sad and depressed people can have something to post on their Facebook timelines.

  • JJ

    It’s pretty clear on the website of Color Me Rad that the dominant purpose of the run is not for Charity, though they do partner with local charities and donate a portion of the proceeds. They describe themselves as being ‘for profit.’ They are a business that markets/promises a fun experience and makes a killer profit. No one is complaining that amusement parks aren’t giving all their money to charity. Why all the hate for this particular business? In a technological age, these companies have found a way to capitalize on the fact that everyone is looking to participate in a cool ‘instagramable’ experience. It’s genius. At the same time, they’re getting the young adult demographic to do something active. I see no problem here unless the begin claiming that they’re non-profit, and they’re clearly making no such claim.

  • Reasonable Guy

    I get it… BUT the color run was fun. I mean, I took it seriously but by all means I thought it was a unique one time experience

  • Colour me not

  • Leo

    Still, that’s 8,000 dollars the youth sports teams would not have had.

  • bruce

    sooo your dumb?

  • T-bizzle

    Not sure I really see the harm in all of this. It’s not as if these events are selling themselves as “life changing”. Everything that was in the advertising video was delivered for the price of $45 and as far as I can tell the event was merely the combination of a 5k run (healthy) and a color party (fun). Not exactly my cup of tea but also not really the scandalous corporate scheme this article makes it out to be. It’s certainly no worse than any of the other recent “fads”. If someone is willing to pay money for a pet rock, than who am I to tell them they are being swindled. As far as the profit margins for this event, it’s certainly no different than paying $50-$100 for a pair of skinny jeans that were sown in Malaysia for $3. Furthermore, to claim that “The event is a bastardization of Holi” is to insinuate that it is an attempt to copy. A claim that is far fetched to say the least. Nothing about the event is promoted as being religious or in any way associated with Hinduism. I would agree that perhaps $45 could be put to better use, but at least its an event that gets this generation off the couch and away from their screens for a little while. Is that really such a bad thing?

  • Chelsea

    Anything can be viewed as dumb and pointless if you word it so it sounds dumb and pointless. Why hate on people trying to have fun while exercising? I think self-absorbed 20-somethings blogging about how stupid new social events are is a really lame fad that will hopefully go away soon too. AMERICA!

  • chris

    This argument against those who make a profit from the run is a logical fallacy. I understand it is rough that they are donating such a small margin, but a donation is happening. Youre bitter because they arent giving more. If these events didn’t exist, then nothing would get donated. Is that what you would prefer?

  • fil

    this is like that other crackpot orginazation what is it… the NFL! Those asswipes charge rediculous amounts to get in and they don’t even let you play football! What a crock!

    Grow up.

  • t

    I did it not because it was for charity (although a bonus) I did the run because I needed more fun in my life which was exactly what it advertised. And I will be doing it again next year with some of my kids because IT’S FUN. Too many people forget they need fun in their life and these style of runs remind me. From their outrageous claims of being a life changing event to getting pelted with colored corn starch, it was meant to be fun and I can tell you they achieved their objective. If someone made money off of it so be it. I will be paying again and encouraging others to join me.

  • Matt

    Allison Leonard: Glass half empty much? Geez. What a butt-hurt, debby
    downer, cynic. She also fails to mention all the money these events get
    from sponsors, thus raising the amount the events are able to give to
    charities. So, is this the culture we’re
    in now: slamming people for having fun and slamming the events that
    host the fun? Most people find running boring and tedious; this makes it
    fun. What’s the problem? Oh that’s right, this country is not in the
    midst of a health epidemic, so let’s not try to make exercise fun. Let’s
    see what this event does: brings lots of people together to have fun;
    gets people outdoors; gets people to exercise; and does in fact donate
    money to charity. To call the event “meaningless” is the real scam. Even
    if she’s right that only a small amount of money is raised for a
    charity, isn’t a small amount of money better than zero money? Nearly
    all (if not all) race events donate money to charity, but if they charge
    too much for entrance fees then no one will participate. And they can’t
    help the fact that they have overhead costs. So, what the hell does she
    think they’re supposed to do? Maybe if Ms. Leonard did some extra
    research she’d find that The Color Run is not a non-profit org; it’s a
    FOR-PROFIT company. They don’t have to give a damn thing to any charity,
    yet they still choose to. And they’re not committing fraud by hiding
    the fact that they’re for profit since it’s right there under the “About
    Us” tab on their website. So, where exactly is the “legal scam”? What
    is it these days with certain people thinking that every company,
    organization, and person is OBLIGATED to donate lots of money to
    charity? They aren’t, but many still do. Color Run donated $600K to
    charities in 2012 and it says they plan to hit $1M for 2013. Could they
    give more? Probably. But they didn’t have to give anything to begin
    with. Furthermore, there’s a difference between bastardizing something
    and being inspired by something. The Color Run does not claim any
    connection to Holi or any other religious affiliation, so it’s not fair
    to call it a bastardization of Holi. If I tie-dye a shirt am I
    bastardizing Holi? Besides, Allison Leonard is a white woman from
    Canada, so who put her in charge of policing the world about a Hindu
    ceremony in places like India and Pakistan? I wonder what other
    important and invigorating pieces Ms. Leonard has written? Let’s take a
    look. Oh, it looks like one: a titillating exposé about a phone app that
    plays the ambient sounds of a coffee shop, so when she’s at home all
    alone drinking her coffee by herself it tricks her into thinking she has
    a social life. Lastly, a statement such as, “guarantee that your
    outlook will be brighter” is (1) a play on words connected to the event
    and (2) puffery, which is a perfectly legal means of advertising. Think
    about it, no right-minded person participates in this type of event for
    the sole purpose of actually thinking it’s going to change his/her life.

  • Mark R

    I saw a patient with a pulmonary complication after a color run

  • Alison

    This article seems wholly one-sided, based on “guesstimate” evidence. With such a righteous position taken, the author could have done a lot more research before posting something so aggressive, assuming most people will read it and believe her.
    She does not describe the mechanics being the colour run’s recruiting drive. Yes they are volunteers but how do organizers go about getting volunteers to commit? In the case of the sports teams they agree on a set amount says the author. Great! They do that at the concessions at Rexall Place too! It means the other side (the volunteers) decide that’s a fair exchange for their labour. So what’s so bad about that. I also don’t like that the author is trying to argue that making a profit on these runs is a bad thing. If the organizers are clear on their intentions and transparent about how & what they are supporting, why is profit a bad thing. Of course it would be horrible if they said 50% of profit was going to a charity and then didn’t come through. But PS an event MUST profit to support another organization. If these colour runs were trying to capture supporters of the heart & lung association and receive advertising through their channels in exchange for a crap donation that would be wrong, but the charity would never agree to that anyways because being a charity or non-profit is a business too. What is so bad about colour runs trying to gain participants for the good of just having fun? Are we not allowed to host a run anymore unless the whole point is to raise money? If the runner understands what they’re getting into why can’t they register to have a good time getting corn starch sprayed in their faces and making memories with friends. God know I spend more than $55 once a year on food, drink, clothing and other things in the pursuit of happiness.

  • really?

    first off Holi isnt a “religious” celebration, its a celebration of love that is common with those who are Hindu but most would say its not exactly “religious.” And so what if they are making money, its business, businesses make money, thats what they do. Why do people buy Pepsi? it has not actual value to someone other than taste… people spend $50 to have fun for that day, just like going to a theme park, sporting event, movie/concert. Sorry Allison Leonard but if you dont find this as a “fun” activity fine, but no one really cares, there are clearly people who are enjoying the events. Also, 3% of profit being donated is quite high, most Fortune500s donate 1% so…..

  • Behaviourmom

    I ran Color Me Rad this past year and am definitely not of the YOLO generation. I’m much older and know others my age who ran it. So it isn’t only 20 somethings doing this run. Never did I see this as a charity run similar to events such as Run for the Cure nor did I expect enlightenment. I never once got the impression the run was meant to raise huge amounts of money. Instead, you pay and part of the funds go to charity. If you ask most people they aren’t doing it to raise money. it is a fun way to get exercise and just have FUN. Please let’s not take that away by over analyzing it.

  • Chuck

    P.T. Barnum was right: there’s a sucker born every minute.

  • MarsPlanet

    every time I see some chick post color run crap on Facebook, I think wow what a douche. These runs come off as some sort of charity, so that if you participate you’re indirectly helping the world….basically like that TOMS shoes crap. When it comes down to it though, there’s nothing giving about these organizations, they’re money makers pure and simple.