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Sunshine bursts through for annual Color Run
This color station, near the soccer field at Escalon High School, was staffed by members of the Spanish Club, who delighted in dousing runners with the colorful powder as they made their way through. Runners could do one, two or three laps around the roughly one-mile course, set up Saturday, Feb. 10 on the EHS campus. Marg Jackson/The Times

After several days of rain over the past couple of weeks, organizers of the annual Escalon Educational Foundation Color Run were counting their blessings on Saturday.

Though there was a definite chill in the air, there was also bright sunshine and the more than 300 runners lined up to run the route around the Escalon High School campus on Feb. 10 were in good spirits.

This year, due to the wet weather of late January and early February, the route had to be revamped. It still measured out to be roughly a mile long loop around the campus, but covered a slightly different area and took off from the quad as opposed to utilizing the track/football field for the starting point.

Leading the way was teacher Sarah Shank, who rode the ‘pace bike’ to lead the runners; some cross country and track and field participants from the high school also ran alongside the group to keep them going in the right direction.

The start time was 8 a.m.; the sun broke through shortly before the horn sounded to send runners on their way. Along the route, there were a half dozen color stations where the participants could get plenty of colorful powder tossed their way to help decorate their white Color Run T-shirts. They could also run around the station if they wanted to avoid the powder. Once they were finished with the run, participants could get some snacks and beverages and also enjoy taking selfies at a photo booth on site, complete with props.

School District Assistant Superintendent Mark Vos praised the efforts of the EEF in putting on the run.

“It’s a community event but also the by-product of it is it’s a fundraising event where the community can give back and it goes directly to our students, all of it,” Vos said. “Coming together, volunteering together, having fun together, that’s what it’s about.”

Co-coordinators April Adams and Kaity French were both pleased with the overall event as well.

“At least 360,” Adams said of the runners that signed up to take part. “We had to create a route on campus, there has been lots of rain so some of the places are pretty muddy but in walking it this morning, it was definitely doable.”

All of the money raised through the Color Run this year, Adams said, has been earmarked specifically for the Class of 2024 scholarships for seniors and schoolwide grants.

Another successful Escalon Educational Foundation fundraiser, the Edible Expo, hosted last fall, raised money that was distributed through classroom grants.

“Teachers were allowed to write a grant and I believe we gave $6000, many in grants to individual classrooms,” said Adams.

With schoolwide grants, principals at the various sites will have the discretion to spend the money for different needs.

Originally, the Color Run was hosted at El Portal Middle School and organized by the Parent Club there; it later moved to the high school campus and the EEF took over the event.

“We really like it to be a community event and get people from all the schools supporting us because we’re supporting all the schools,” Adams said.

For French, she felt the route was something the runners adapted to well and she was glad to see so many turn out on Saturday.

“It was amazing,” she said of the 2024 Color Run. “It is my favorite event of the year … the new route worked out, it was a team effort, all hands on deck.”

The addition of the pace bike was a last-minute decision, she noted, since there were chalk markings to define the route on the blacktop and then on to the less muddy grassy areas.

“She’s our adventurer,” French explained of Shank, who took on the challenge of being the pace bike rider. “We marked it pretty good and then I think, too, where we had the color stations set, it was a nice flow from one to the next.”

She also said the six color stations was one more than last year and provided plenty of opportunity for runners to get colorful. Some did the one-mile loop just once, others did it two or three times; it was entirely up to the individual runner how far they wanted to go. Walking, jogging and running were all encouraged.

“And how lucky are we for the weather?” French asked. “The sun was shining; it was meant to be … it was awesome and just all the help that we have makes it run smoothly.”

Appearing through the misty shades of color, Niki Williamson and her nine-year-old daughter Harper, left, were joined by Stephanie Ceja and her four-year-old son Olivar as they stopped to peruse some of the drinks and snacks set up near the finish line at the annual color run hosted at Escalon High School on Saturday, Feb. 10. Marg Jackson/The Times
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Serving as the ‘pace bike’ rider, teacher Sarah Shank was called in to service on Saturday, Feb. 10 on the campus of Escalon High School to lead the color run participants on a new route. Some changes made due to the wet and soggy conditions of many grassy areas of campus as a result of the recent rainy weather. Marg Jackson/The Times
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Fresh off their run, friends Grace Bartelink, left, Brylee Dugo and Kaili Bartelink share a smile; their T-shirts – and faces – indicating they ran through several of the color stations set up around the Escalon High School campus. Marg Jackson/The Times