Runners get splashed in dye for charity 5k race at Coliseum

Thousands of runners were challenged to get as messy as possible on Saturday, April 12, 2014, as they danced their way through a 5-kilometer race in the Nassau Coliseum parking lot while getting sprayed with brightly colored cornstarch. (Credit: Michael Cusanelli)

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They had smiles on their faces -- and brightly colored dye on their teeth.

More than 7,000 runners took part in Saturday's inaugural Run or Dye race in the parking lot at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale. The goal: Get covered in as much powdered dye (actually tinted cornstarch) as possible thrown by spectators lining the 5k course.

"People saw me running and hit me a lot," said Justin Lozado, 21, of Freeport, a freelance photographer who was streaked in yellow and pink. "I did a back flip at the beginning of the run, came up and got hit in the face. I wish I'd known to wear glasses."

Run or Dye organizers said the event, which they've hosted in dozens of cities across the country in recent years, is a nod to India's Holi Festival, an annual spring celebration where masses of celebrants splash each other with colored dyes in the streets.

How did the Long Island version stack up?

"Here you get more color on you because you're running past all the color stations," said Paramveer Bright, 31, an Indian native now living in Bethpage who both volunteered as a color-thrower and ran in the race. He was covered in Smurf-blue from his turban to his waist.

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Runners employed various methods to entice the more than 200 volunteers along the course to give them an extra-heavy dousing -- some cajoled, a few performed stunts and others dressed in outrageous costumes.

"I begged," said Lee Franklin, 17, a tutu-wearing high school student from Hempstead. "I figured if I stood out, I'd get more dye." It worked, as her face and upper torso were almost unrecognizable thanks to rainbow-hued splotches.

Many volunteers signed up through Big Brothers Big Sisters, a nonprofit youth-mentoring charity. The organization is slated to receive an estimated $7,500 donation of race proceeds, according to Mark Cox, the group's Long Island chief executive.

Volunteer John Matthews, 68, of East Rockaway, used a bucket to splash runners with pink dye at the start of the race. Russell Remondino, 55, of Bellmore, worked beside him, using a piece of cardboard to scoop powdered dye from a giant box and hurl it farther than Matthews could. Said Remondino, "I like to throw a lot at one person. "

Correction:  An earlier version of this story referred to the race as the Run or Dye Color Run.

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