On Sunday, June 9 at 9 a.m., rain or shine, the 15th annual Elizabeth Haddon 5K Fun Run and One Mile Walk will take place, starting at Haddon Elementary and winding its way through the neighborhood surrounding the school.
Runners can wear whatever colors and outfits they choose for comfort. For those who wear white at the start, by the completion of the 5K course, they could conceivably bear all the colors of the rainbow.
That’s because non-running volunteers will be stationed along the five-kilometer course, prepared to douse runners with color. The coloring, which is non-toxic cornstarch and contains natural dyes, will be sprayed on participants with clear plastic squeeze bottles like ones that hold mustard or ketchup. Those who wish to run in the color lanes should wear sunglasses to prevent it getting into their eyes.
Other parts of the course will have different kinds of obstacles for those who aren’t timing themselves, and there will be cones present to guide people between color and non-color lanes.
“We’re going to be changing up the obstacles a bit this year. Participants can expect something fun at every kilometer of the race, some kind of obstacle or attraction,” said race chairperson Toni Esemplare. “Last year, we had two color stations – one at the start, one at the end – along with water guns, tires and limbo in between. There’s still going to be color. I have a few tricks up my sleeve, but participants might have to wait until race day to find out what they are going to be.”
At the end of the race, prizes will be awarded to the top male and female in different age categories. Other prizes will be available to be raffled off following the race’s completion.
For Esemplare, this will mark her seventh and final year as race chair. Since her son is a fifth-grader and will enter Haddonfield Middle School next year, organizing duties will be handed off to someone else.
“When I took over the race, it was just a run and walk through the area around Haddon. The next year, we added the paint, and we did it every kilometer with a different color. As the years have gone by, things evolved to having different obstacles at each station. This year I feel the pressure to come up with something else that’s fun,” Esemplare said.
Esemplare wouldn’t reveal how successful the race has been in financial terms. But with good turnout every time, in certain years, she said, enough funds were collected to purchase iPads for Haddon students, or to finance improvements to school grounds. All profits from the race are placed into a PTA fund for various school-related projects.
“The evolution of the race has been a joy for me, watching it grow, going from not knowing what to do with it, to learning how to make it fun and work for everyone,” Esemplare explained.
“I’ve been running since I was in my 20s, not competitively but for exercise, and this is one cause for me that I had a passion. It benefits the school and our children, so it was easy to wrap my hands around it and see what I can do with it. It has been a joy to see how the kids and parents got out and enjoyed it every year. I will miss it.”