(Updated at 10:05 a.m. Sunday) Hundreds of people flock to “color runs” held around RFK Stadium, but locals say the races are leaving grass covered in garbage and paved surfaces coated in bright powder.
Residents say the most recent run, held Saturday, left hundreds of empty plastic bags — which contained the colored powder race participants throw at each other — along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail.
Local Julia Hagelberg, a 30-year-old consultant, saw hundreds of the color pouches around the stadium, hours after the Color in Motion 5K race concluded. The next morning, she said she spent two hours picking up the bags.
“Being a member of the Kingman Park neighborhood, and a frequent user of the bike and running trails along the Anacostia, I can’t understand why ‘fun runs’ are allowed to carelessly let so much plastic litter into the … surrounding area,” Hagelberg said by email. She reached out to Events DC, which brings the runs to the area.
Kyle Mullins, 29, who also lives near the stadium, said in an email he is concerned about the runs, too.
Organizers need a “responsible action plan that allows the next generation to have these events in a clean and safe environment, while respecting the residents who live there,” said Mullins, who is an account manager for a manufacturing company.
The colored powder thrown in the Color in Motion 5K was “basically a mixture of cornstarch and dye that is 100 percent safe and biodegradable,” according to its website.
“The best part is starting out all sparkly clean and ending up looking like a big bag of Skittles exploded on you,” the site says.
Event organizers are responsible for cleaning up trash, according to an Events DC spokesman. But Events DC is working to mitigate the problem, said Erik Moses, a senior vice president at the organization.
“The Anacostia Water Shed Society and members of my staff met last month to assess the current situation as well as develop solutions for the future, which includes exploring a direct partnership with a private cleaning crew to help support each event producers clean-up procedures,” he said in a statement.
The Color in Motion 5K said in a statement that it had garbage cans available and made several announcements that encouraged runners not to litter. The race organizers added that they worked with Events DC on trash removal. But they said Events DC was responsible for the cleanup under their agreement.
“We’re happy to follow up with the stadium to ensure the appropriate cleanup of the lot was completed,” Color in Motion 5K said.
The next color run, Color Me Rad, will be held May 30. A representative of that race didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Locals have raised concerns about trash from events near RFK Stadium before.
Residents have expressed concern about litter, public urination and other problems associated with ShamrockFest and the Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Marathon. Events DC spokesman Peter Kirschner said in March his organization is committed to doing “everything in our power” to mitigate similar issues in the future.
“The trash problem related to the color run doesn’t surprise me,” said ANC 6B Commissioner Denise Krepp, who lives near the stadium. “Events DC has a history of not picking up trash that is created by their events.”
Photos courtesy of Julia Hagelberg