“I write this, not to complain about a single event or to be praised for picking up the trash, but as a call to action”


“Dear PoPville,

Earlier this spring, a color run was held at RFK Stadium, and hundreds of people showed up in bright white shirts to be doused in neon powder at each kilometer along the 5k course. This powder comes in clear plastic packets that race staff rip open and discard throughout the day. Later that day, as I rode my bike along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail between the parking lots and the river, I noticed thousands of these empty plastic power packets littering the grass and blowing into the river. I wanted to believe that a cleaning crew was coming along later in the day, because I couldn’t accept that such negligence would have been tolerated by Events DC or the race coordinators. Additional cleaning crews did not come before wind carried these packets farther away.

On May 2nd, the “Color In Motion 5k Run” took place at the same venue. The event concluded by mid-day, and as we walked to the DC United soccer match that evening I noticed a disgustingly familiar sight along the paths. Hundreds of these plastic pouches were still strewn about the parking lot, adjacent lawns, and the riverwalk.

Participants in these races likely assume that their race fees cover clean-up costs, and it should. I’d like to believe people wouldn’t be signing up for something like this if they knew how much plastic from this event ended up in the Anacostia River, but this is beside the point. The groups organizing such events should not let this happen.

I’m a firm believer in taking action, so I donned some rubber gloves and spent two hours on Sunday morning picking up these neon powder packets. I filled two garbage bags, and hopefully got a majority of the remaining litter, but this is not my job.

I write this, not to complain about a single event or to be praised for picking up the trash, but as a call to action for the coordinators of upcoming fun runs and other events. Over the next four months, RFK Stadium will host another six color runs (including one this month) and the coordinators of such events need to be held accountable. Out of respect for the community, both the people living in and enjoying the neighboring areas, and for the wildlife that call the Anacostia and Kingman & Heritage Island Park their home, please help make a difference. Please help to drive accountability around these events!”

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55 Comment

  • If DC MPD can go after a couple posting flyers (and then hold them accountable for posting their flyers bc they created them), then it seems reasonable that DC MPD can go after the organizers for this event for every piece of trash that was created by their event.

    This is ridiculous. No accountability in this city.

  • Thank you Neighbor for doing that. I will contact my ANC and Events DC to lodge a concern as well.

    • OH, Events DC!
      They won’t care unless you’re offering them free tickets/admission to something.
      It’s just a quasi-government organization with a sense of apathy and unaccountability.

  • justinbc

    Isn’t Events DC the same company that decided to host a concert in the H Street Autozone parking lot without notifying any of the adjacent neighbors?

  • I saw the parking lots were covered in dye, but I’m ashamed to say that unlike the writer, I just kept on riding. Thanks for cleaning this up. What sort of chemicals were in this dye? Those parking lots runoff directly into the Anacostia. This seems like an environmental dumping problem to me.

    • The packets are just dyed cornstarch. I don’t know if the dyes are harmful, but I would like to think that they wouldn’t be since kids participate.

      Also, maybe the OP should contact these outfits and post things on their Facebook pages with the photos letting them know of their thoughtlessness regarding cleanup.

    • Im gonna take a guess those powders are innocuous to the environment (though don’t quote me). What I’m definitely concerned about are all those plastic bags. I blame the organizers but I also blame the participants of the race – both a have a responsibility not to litter. It’s common sense.

      • “Im gonna take a guess those powders are innocuous to the environment.”
        I would guess the same. I mean the whole point of the color run is to dump lots of that stuff all over lots of people, so it’s probably way less harmful to the Anacostia than the other crap that gets pumped into the river every day already.

    • The OP is concerned about the plastic packets themselves moreso than the colored powder these events use as they appropriate Holi.

      • Uh, are you serious?? Holi, while certainly important and significant in Hinduism, is ultimately just a giant party celebrating life, love, peace, and Springtime. Hindu people encourage all folks to participate and when I took part in one, somebody hosed me down with a water gun full of cranberry juice(?). There really aren’t any rules to it and its advertised as a joyous free for all, the entire point is to have a good time. There’s nothing to “appropriate”, please educate yourself before you say things so ridiculous sounding.

        • Side note: This is not to say that Color Runs are nearly as cool as Holi, because they definitely aren’t.

  • I am anti color runs in general. The runners all plow onto the metro after and this stuff ends up spreading everywhere and all over folks who didn’t participate.

  • Anonomnom

    A+ Job OP. Just a thought: Maybe sharing this write up on the upcoming event’s facebook events might catch the eyes of the admins and participants?

  • +1,000 for the OP. Good on you, not just for your action, but your activism. Clear externality here, and the event promoter should absolutely have an obligation to clean up after itself (and then some).

  • Shame on the event organizers for not completing event cleanup. I’ve helped put together many events and proper cleanup is always on priority list, largely so you can do the event again. Those packets and that dust will go directly into the Anacostia River—and the surrounding residential neighborhood.

    OP, thanks for your work.

  • very well written. thank you for bringing this to our attention!

  • Color Runs are the dumbest thing ever. For whatever reason, my fellow Milleneals love these stupid events.
    Everytime you see a ColorRun picture on Tinder, it’s an automatic swipe left. You won’t meet a more boring person.

    • justinbc

      Agreed, very stupid premise.

    • palisades

      Look at me! I pay money to get powder thrown in my face and to run once a year! Look at me!

    • one of many events these days that appear to exist only for instagram opportunities and facebook profile pics. if they had a ‘no photos’ rule at these events, no one would do it!!!

    • thank you for taking the time to do this – what an obnoxious statement from the event organizers. like the poor anacoastia river doesn’t have enough trash and pollution as it is!

    • Yup, pretty dumb. Likely popular with the November Project kids.

    • Not to mention that they are absurd events of cultural appropriation. I’ve read that a lot of Hindus are not big fans of these things.

      • I was just going to write this – agree 100%.

      • I’m not a big fan of these things for other reasons, but why is it offensive to Hindus? Colors are fun. It’s not like they’re dressing up like Krishna or something.

        • I’m less worried about the Millennials who do a color run in order to get a cool instagram photo than I am about the Millennials who have been trained to view everything as offensive cultural appropriations.

  • +1 to the OP

  • there are going to be 6 more of these in the next 4 months?!? The profit margins must be astronomical on these suckers.

    • Holy shit, $60+ for one of these things?!?! No kidding they are making bank. There doesn’t appear to even be any timing component, I guess you are just paying for ugly swag and colored corn starch. Any backers for my Water Run series? For a mere extra $40 you get to run the same course backwards through a progression of sprinklers to wash off the powder that you just paid to have thrown at you. Can’t fail!

    • My exact thought! A+ to the OP as others have said but mainly I walk away from this scratching my head as to how on earth there is enough demand for this stupidity.

  • Egad

    Thank you for your hard work, OP. I wish there were more people out there like you!

  • toofwis

    In addition to saying thank you, I would also add that you might want to take the issue to your ANC… I don’t live in that neighborhood but in my neighborhood (ANC 2A) run organizers frequently show up reqeuesting letters of support from the ANCs where the run will take place. I’d let the board know that the community has seen an issue with trash/litter and either withdraw support from future runs or make the letter of support contingent on the cleanup.

  • nightborn

    Thank you OP. People suck sometimes. I did the GW Parkway Classic 10 miler the other week and just watched people toss their empty packets of Gu onto the road as they ran. Shameful.

    • That is par for the course in races, the issue here is the lack of event clean up following the race

    • Who needs a gel for a 10mi race?

      • I do! But I’m slow so a 10 mile race is kind of a long run for me.
        As for throwing on the ground, I don’t do that but better organized runs pay for street sweeping after.

  • Thank you for bringing this to our attention. At the event this past weekend we had trash receptacles available throughout the event area. Additionally, we partner with our participants to ensure a clean event; we made multiple announcements during the event encouraging participants to throw their trash in the trash receptacles. Lastly, we also partner with RFK stadium for the clean-up. As part of the agreement with the stadium, we pay them a fee and they are responsible for cleanup. We will be following up with the stadium to ensure the appropriate clean-up of the lot was completed.

    • Saying “we made it someone else’s responsibility” so we aren’t responsible is disappointing.
      First, saying “we partner with our participants to ensure a clean event” and “we made multiple announcements during the event encouraging participants to throw their trash in the trash receptacles” is ridiculous. You know not everyone is going to comply and need a backup plan.
      Second, you pay a fee to RFK for cleanup? Fine, but how are you still not responsible for seeing that RFK does the work you paid them for? And does RFK see this agreement as covering cleanup of the Anacostia River Trail?
      A very disappointing pass-the-buck response. I will not be participating in any of your events.

    • Color in Motion is one of the organizations mentioned in this article about color run scams.


  • Thank you for sharing the pictures. I’ve forwarded the pictures and the article to Erik Moses, Events DC Senior Vice President. Every quarter, he meets with RFK neighbors to brief us on upcoming events. I’ve asked him to include the color run on the agenda for the July 13th.

    There have been significant problems with trash at past Events DC sponsored events – including the RocknRoll Marathon. ANC6B Commissioners sent a letter to city agencies last month notifying them that ANC6B will oppose future events if Events DC does not clean up the trash. Neighbors and the environment shouldn’t suffer for Events DC failures.

    If anyone has similar pictures to the ones posted today, please send them to me and I’ll work with my fellow ANC6B Commissioners to fix the problem.

    Denise Krepp
    [email protected]

  • Yeah, the garbage is excessive… what is even worse…. who ever cleaned the parking lot dumped the water with from the trucks containing all of the dye directly into the Anacostia river. My boyfriend took pictures of it because he could not believe what he was seeing. Trucks dumped water with the dye into the Anacostia! We don’t have to worry about run off, because they are just dumping directly into the river.

  • They did the same shenanigans at the BeerFest in Navy Yard. Even after I asked them to stop throwing the plastic wristbands on the ground, they still did. I wrote to the guy in charge and he promised it won’t happen again.

  • Maybe we can organize a good old fashioned foam party afterwards to clean it all up.

  • First of all, thank you to all the concerned citizens who have posted this article and comments. Events DC is the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia. Events DC leverages the beauty, history and diversity that the District offers to attract and promote an extensive variety of events, resulting in amazing experiences for residents and visitors alike, and generating significant economic and community benefits for the city.

    Events DC has a comprehensive set of procedures in place for all of the customers who rent our space. Part of these measures contain cleaning requirements for promoters during their event as well as a partnership with a cleaning service for post-event. Following the color-run on Saturday, the post-event clean-up crew did a subpar job cleaning the premises and was contacted immediately. Following the D.C. United game, the cleaning crew came back in the middle of the night to do a full sweep of the premises. On Sunday, our management team noticed that minimal trash remained and scheduled the Events DC grounds keeping staff as well as Department of General Services (DGS) personnel to do another sweep of the premises first thing Monday morning. Additionally, they were instructed to remove any litter and empty receptacles on the campus as well as along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail area adjacent to the campus.

    Events DC is always looking at ways to improve our operations and is currently examining the cleaning procedures we have in place. As a result of concerns raised by neighbors following a March event, we are in the process of fine-tuning the direct communication with our post-event cleaning service provider prior to each event, exploring options for hiring a secondary cleaning crew, and considering new measures to implement during post event clean-up in an effort to minimize reoccurrence of this issue.

    Events DC is committed to mitigating trash related issues along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail and is currently engaged with the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) in on-going conversations. Events DC assists the National Park Service with actively maintaining this piece of public property. In addition to mowing the grass on a regular basis, Events DC is exploring a partnership with a private company for routine trash collecting and cleaning of the 1-mile stretch of trail adjacent to our campus.

    You also may be interested to know that on Saturday, April 25th, the AWS led a team of volunteers to do river bank clean-up in the area adjacent to the RFK Stadium campus. Next week on Tuesday, May 12th, as part of Ciroc Week, a group of volunteers will be walking along the 1-mile stretch of trail to conduct another litter removal. Later this summer, Events DC, AWS and DC United will be partnering to hold an organized clean-up of the area. Once the date is set, we’ll share information with you and other stakeholders who may be interested in participating as volunteers.

    I hope this information is helpful. We are really encouraged that so many concerned citizens share our enthusiasm for a cleaner environment and always appreciate constructive input and productive conversation on ways to make our city the world class city we know it to be.

    • justinbc

      Ciroc Week? Oh god, I can’t even imagine the trash something like that will produce, given how trashy everything related to the brand is.

    • I have absolutely zero confidence in Events DC fixing this problem which happens regularly after these runs. Events DC is also actively trying to bring the Redskins back to RFK rather than something more useful and beneficial to the city with that waterfront property. I wonder how Dan Snyder would handle cleanup next to the Anacostia River after the insane tailgating that happens on game day.

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