Colour runs are a fun run with a difference – bucketfuls of brightly coloured powder! They have been growing in popularity as a public event, but not everyone can attend city-held runs, and there are often age restrictions. This is where you can fill a gap in your community, hosting an event that will promote healthy activity while being enjoyed by the whole family. Runners, marshals and spectators can all throw powder, which is made from cornflour and non-toxic dye, and washes away easily without staining clothes or the ground.
- Six months before: Agree a date with the school and ensure a key-holder is available on the day. Book radio station to attend. Book St John Ambulance (or equivalent). Start booking external stalls and portaloos, if using. Decide on the route, distance and timings.
- Three months before: Put together an information pack with details of the run and T&Cs. Prepare an entry form. Finalise the entry fee and registration process, and start advertising the event and selling tickets through an online platform or in person, possibly offering an early-bird discount.
- Two months before: Continue promoting the event, both at school and publicly through social media. Approach local companies to ask for sponsorship. Contact local press to come and take photographs. Work out how many volunteers and marshals are required and put out a request to parents and staff. Collate a list of volunteers and allocate roles. Check PTA supplies for any extras such as charcoal for the barbecue and face paints etc.
- One month before: Put up the early bird ticket price, if using. If planning to sell alcohol, apply for a Temporary Event Notice. Agree floats for any refreshments stalls with the treasurer. Book a local fitness instructor to lead a group warm-up before the run.
- Two weeks before: Finalise runner numbers and order coloured powder, plus medals, certificates, T-shirts and wristbands. Running Imp can supply all of the above. Continue to promote the event via banners and posters. Send a press release to local media. Ensure you have enough helpers on the day.
- One week before: Create signage for the event and make sure the registration area, toilets and race starting point are clear. Compile registration lists, splitting into groups by surname.
- On the day: Collect floats from the bank. Measure and mark out the route clearly to ensure participants are running the distance advertised. Set up your refreshment stalls and a registration tent or desk. Open for registration around an hour before the event begins, and factor in time for participants to take part in a warm-up. Have medals/certificates ready.
- After the event: Have a post-event debrief to discuss what worked well and what may need tweaking for next time. Thank your volunteers after the event and ask for feedback. Give details about how much the event raised and how this will be spent.
Download a print-friendly PDF version of our step-by-step guide to a colour run
Tips and advice
- Date: It can be too hot for this kind of event in the summer, so spring or autumn work well. Ensure the event doesn't clash with local runs.
- The route: Decide whether the route will have a separate start and finish, or be a circuit with laps. Consider whether these should differ for different ages.
- Charging: You may not make much profit from the entry fee, but there are other ways to boost profits. Make it clear what's included in the entry fee, e.g. colour, a medal, a wristband or even a T-shirt. Find out how to sell event tickets online.
- Application pack: This should include event details, a sponsor form, T&Cs, an application form and possibly FAQs. Advise participants to wear light clothing for maximum colourful effect, and sunglasses to protect their eyes from the powder.
- Licensing: If playing music, make sure you have a music licence (the school's may cover it). If selling alcohol, ensure you have a TEN, and, depending on numbers, rope off a serving area limited to 500 people.
- Equipment: Encourage sign-ups early to help you work out how much coloured powder to buy. See if any local businesses can supply medals for free. Consider hiring portaloos to avoid a mess in the school.
- Boost profits: Sell refreshments, snacks, or a BBQ. Have some stalls to engage spectators, and make sure you have plenty of extra bags of colour to sell on the day!
- Sponsorship: Encourage participants to collect sponsorship by setting up an event page on a platform such as JustGiving or Give as you Live and Donate.
- Volunteers: Volunteers are required to register participants, act as marshals, run stalls, hand out water or medals, set up and clear away. Talk to organisers of any local running events to see if they can help.
- Registration: Make sure your registration lists are organised in a logical order, split into manageable chunks. Boost the atmosphere with music or a group warm-up.
'Our PTA held a junior colour run in October last year. As other local runs didn't cater for under-16s, we decided to open the event up to the local community.
We held a 1k 'family run' for children and accompanying adults, followed by a 2k 'junior run' for under-16s only. Tickets were £5 and included a bag of colour, a bottle of water and a medal.
We opened bookings in July to give people time to arrange sponsorship. We encouraged those from our school to raise money for the PTA, but other participants could obtain sponsorship for other causes. We publicised the event in our PTA newsletter, on Facebook, with posters around the school and banners around our town.
We set up the course on the school field the day before the event, and on the day we set up a BBQ, a bar, a tuck shop and a hot drinks stall. We also had extra bags of colour to sell to runners and spectators. When runners signed in they received their bag of colour and a Tyvek wristband. A local fitness club led a group warm-up, and we invited our local community radio station along, which really enhanced the mood.
Almost 300 runners took part. Costs were high, so we didn't expect to make a huge profit, however we raised £838 from the event, and £1,975 in sponsorship for our PTA! It was deemed a great success, and we're running it again this year.'
Sarah Everson, Secretary, Friends of Halsford Park Primary, East Grinstead, West Sussex (415 pupils)
'We held our first colour run last September, using a 1k circuit around our school and field. We began publicising the event in April on Facebook, as well as advertising in local sports clubs to make it a community event.
Outlay for a colour run is costly, so we encouraged participants to sign up and pay in advance. We used six 20kg tubs of colour for 120 runners and a similar number of spectators. Early-bird tickets for adults were £15 (which included a T-shirt), increasing to £21.80 a month before. Children's entry was £5.
We offered paper masks and latex gloves to anyone worried about asthma or allergies, and we advised participants to wear sunglasses to protect their eyes.
A local Zumba instructor led a half-hour warm-up, and we encouraged runners to aim for five laps, while younger children could do just one. Children who finished before the adults joined in with throwing colour.
We ran a barbecue, a bar, and a cake stall, and also boosted profits by selling whistles, sunglasses, tutus, wigs and T-shirts, plus face-painting and glitter tattoos. At the end we let everyone loose for group photos with the remaining powder – it was great fun, and we raised over £700 for the PTA!'
Victoria Kirk, PTA Chair, Poringland Primary School, Poringland, Norwich (373 pupils)
'We decided to organise a colour run so that the "usual" helpers could participate in an event rather than be stuck on a stall. We had a big initial outlay, spending £1,000
on colour powder and buying white T-shirts for all participants. Our main sponsor, local recruitment company Barrington James, gave us a lump sum at the start to help with costs. We then asked other local companies to sponsor a colour station for £50. We charged £3 for pupils to participate and £5 for everyone else. Over 320 people signed up. We sent out sponsor forms and set up a JustGiving page.
Nearby secondary school Oakwood let us use their big sports field and we held the colour run after school on sports day. BrandIn, a company we're connected with, arranged for two sports stars to warm up and run with the participants, while local running team Black Dog Runners encouraged the participants around the course.
We started with the younger children and accompanying adults, then progressed by age. The run was only supposed to be 3km but the children kept asking to go again!
The aim of the day was to keep it fun and light-hearted. We didn't have winners' medals or call the participants 'runners' as we felt it would have excluded people. Whether they walked, crawled, ran or skipped, everyone could have fun.
We offered PTA-run refreshment stalls and three external food vans. Instead of a normal raffle, we decided to raffle one prize per hour. The hampers got bigger each time, culminating in a wheelbarrow full of alcohol and snacks. The winner got to wheel it home!
We made a profit of just over £6,000, which included match funding from a local company.
It was such a great community feeling and was enjoyed by all – not one complaint came through afterwards!'
Hayley Gardner, co-chair, Friends of Langshott Primary School, Horley, Surrey (420 pupils)
The above is intended as guidance only. We recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on the guidance provided.