A short swath of Airport Road in north Minot was transformed into a pad of brilliant, technicolor pink just past the starting line when the Run or Dye 5K race came to Minot Saturday. More than 5,000 runners participated.
It was a "color station," where people stood next to cardboard bins chock full of machine-washable, cornstarch-based dye powder that clings to the hand like pool chalk after hours of playing.
If runners were able to get past the station without being pelted in pink, there were three more stations along the route with other, equally loud colors, which snaked around Minot over five kilometers, or about 3.1 miles.
"Every station has mixed colors. Purple, blue, green, yellow," said Raul Rivera, who is stationed at Minot Air Force Base, before getting into his car after finishing the race.
He had purple lines under his eyes like football black and was otherwise the crazy canvas of thousands of amateur Jackson Pollocks around every bend. It wasn't just the dye stations that coated the runners, but each other.
"They gave us this stuff to throw at people," he said with an empty black bag once filled with the cornstarch dye.
"They got me every time," said Jason Benjamin, another participant. "Blue teal, pink, everything."
While Benjamin said that he has done a lot of 5Ks, they were "nothing quite like this one." He also said that he did it with friends so his speed wasn't as impressive as he had liked because he was socializing.
That seemed to be the common theme.
Sheena Dietrich, Ruliia Gerbig and Meri Lombardi, standing and laughing together after the race, said in near-unison that they would "absolutely" do the race again if it comes back next year.
"Just for fun and to enjoy ourselves," said Dietrich. "It was fun to get out together and see families together."
"If they can do it in Minot spring and fall, twice, that would be nice," Gerbig said.
It was often difficult to carry on conversation with race finishers because just yards away in a field was the after-race Dye Festival, where emcees blasted music and charged up the audience by saying things like "Let's have them hear us up in Canada. Let's have them hear us down in South Dakota. Let's rock the Midwest," and leading a massive sing-along to songs like Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'."
"They do a great job of energizing and really partying it up," said Teresa Loftesnes, the director of marketing at Minot State University.
The run was to celebrate MSU's centennial. Classes began in the then-State Normal School of Minot on Sept. 24, 1913. The race was just 10 days short of the actual anniversary.
"We've always done a 5K walk/run with our block party and this year its our 100th birthday so we want to take it to another level," Loftesnes said. "So we heard about this Run or Dye that was taking place nationwide and so our student activities director put in a call and they responded and wanted to come."
The university lent Run or Dye their dome for registration pickup and also assisted with marketing and parking. Runners registered online and the entire planning, from the course design and the placement of color stations, was done by the organization.
"I'm sure it will be on the list (for next year)," Loftesnes said. "It's just so fun to see the diversity from the newborns down here to all the way up to a couple I've seen who had to be in their 70s."
The university will be hosting a community block party, sponsored by Minot Young Professionals, next Saturday with free lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m. There also will be other activities from bouncing castles for children to the coronation of the homecoming king and queen.
"It's a great time for the community to come and party with Minot State," Loftesnes said. "And eat our 2013 cupcakes."