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Women's rugby brings a splash of color to campus

By Caitlin O'Connor '14

October 10, 2013

The skies may have been overcast but the ground was full of color this past Saturday on the Hill. Starting at 11 a.m., the Hamilton College women’s rugby team sponsored an inaugural 5K color run, a race where volunteers throw neon dyed cornstarch at the runners at various stops throughout the course.

The Color RunTM began as a national touring event in 2012 to promote running for fun, positive energy and healthy living. With over 100 million people participating in an official Color RunTM, there have also been hundreds of home-grown events cropping up across the country.

“I thought the event was really cool and knew a lot of people were already interested in participating,” said Hamilton College women’s rugby president, Emily Pitman ’15. “So why not bring something that’s already wildly popular to campus?”

Pitman began planning the event in August, gathering supplies and volunteers to throw the paint on race day. In addition to the women’s rugby team, HOC leaders and several members of the campus volunteered to bypass running the race in favor of cheering on their peers while dousing them in dye.

Sign-ups took place for the week preceding the race in Beinecke and continued on race day in the Babbitt Pavillion. Participants were suggested to make a donation of $5 to register or pay $10 for a white Hamilton color run t-shirt that would be dyed throughout the course.

The team quickly sold out of the 150 shirts they purchased, with close to 200 registered participants. One of the major reasons for the event’s success was a great social media advertising campaign, with over 240 attendees on the Facebook event.

The race spanned the entire campus, using the same route as the annual Ham & Legs Run Walk, which will be occurring next Thursday afternoon at 3 and 4:30 p.m. As the women’s rugby team counted down at the starting line, runners launched from the Babbitt Pavillion into a cloud of paint and the Kirkland Glen. Participants then crossed over to the Light Side, looping around the Carnegie quad and Steuben Field before returning to the Pavillion for a culminating barbecue sponsored by Bon Appetit.

Unlike varsity sports, club teams at Hamilton handle appyling for and raising their own funds, in addition to planning an entire season schedule with club teams from other schools.

From paying dues to booking jitneys and organizing tournaments with other schools, the players are responsible for every stage in the process.

One of the team’s current greatest needs is new uniforms. “In rugby, it is helpful to have tighter jerseys,” said treasurer Becka Gaines ’15. “Then the other team will face more resistance when trying to pull us down for a tackle.”

In addition to the color run, the team has held two successful late-night weekend bake sales outside of the Howard Diner to drum up more funds. Both of these fundraising activities have given the girls an opportunity to bond off the field, which helps them work better as a team on the pitch.

Through the color run alone, the women’s rugby team raised over $2,000. While some of this money will go towards the cost of t-shirts and dye, the rest will help sponsor the rest of the fall season and Special Olympics in Rome, NY.

According to Gaines, “we specifically chose the Special Olympics because we wanted a charity that promotes athletics in youth, the same concept behind the Color RunTM.”

In addition to raising money for a good cause, the women’s rugby team gave the campus an event that everyone could participate in, no matter their fitness level, and with their peers on the Hill. Unlike most races that declare a “winner,” the color run emphasizes that the most important aspect is finishing the race, no matter if you walk or run, over beating the person standing next to you.

“This was my first 5K and I really liked what an unintimidating and welcoming atmosphere it had,” said Amy Resnik ’15. “I ran the race as a great way to bond with my suitemates while having fun and supporting a worthy cause.”

The most exciting leg of the race by far was the Martin’s Way Bridge. While most sections of the race gave runners ample space, the bridge provided a bottleneck that forced participants to clump together. In a competitive race, this would likely be seen as the worst segment, slowing down the fastest runners and causing unnecessary collisions. But in the color run, this is where the energy was most infectious—paint flying and smiles beaming. There were even several tour groups of prospective students crossing the bridge, who were luckily able to escape the flying paint but not the smiles.

“I have never seen more people smiling at the end of a 5K,” said Pitman. “It was so fulfilling to see people having a good time and actually enjoying themselves at an event that we put so much effort into planning.”

In the future, the team hopes to make the run an annual event on campus and open it up to the greater Clinton community. “Even without advertising off-campus, two mothers heard about the run through word of mouth and brought their kids,” said Gaines. “It was awesome to see how much fun they were having, and we think the rest of the community would really enjoy it as well.”

While the colors for most runners have washed away (here’s a tip: wash your shirts in vinegar to preserve the dye!), fond memories of the inaugural Hamilton color run are sure to linger on campus until next fall.

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