Although The Color Run isn't officially timed, Josh Davis joked with his friends that he was going to win.
And he did. The Carleton, Mich. resident was the first to finish the race on Saturday morning in downtown Toledo. At one point, he ran in front of the vehicle that was leading the parade. He completed the race in 20 minutes and 45 seconds.
"My kids are my motivation," said Mr. Davis, who was spitting orange and blue chalk and drenched in sweat. "I'm a U.S. Air Force veteran and I'm running for the Wounded Warrior Project."
The project he referenced aims to foster "the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation's history," according to the vision statement on its Web site.
PHOTO GALLERY: Toledo's first Color Run imbued with smiles
The Color Run took over Promenade Park and the streets of downtown as about 5,000 runners made their way through color blast stations that left them in a rainbow of hues.
The 5K event is more of a "fun" run. It is not timed and there are no official winners. Walkers and runners are released from the starting line in waves, starting at 8 a.m.
This is the first time Toledo played host to The Color Run, an event now held in several cities across the country to promote joy through splashy colors.
Run organizers bill it as the "Happiest 5K on the Planet,"and describe it as "a unique paint race that celebrates healthiness, happiness, and individuality."
"It's a little smaller than it was in some of the other cities, but it attracted a good number for the size of Toledo," said Kellina Curley, an employee of Silverback, the Lawrence, Kansas-based events production company that stages the run in other cities.
Now the single largest event series in the nation, The Color Run debuted in January 2012 and will grow from 50 events and 600,000 participants in 2012, to more than 100 events and a million participants in 2013.
The local charity benefiting from the run is Mercy Children’s Hospital in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.
The nationwide charity affiliated with the run is the Global Poverty Project, a campaigning and educational organization whose vision is a world without extreme poverty within a generation.
Runners in Toledo were clothed mostly in white as suggested by the organizers of the run, the better to take on the powdered color blasts.
The fun continued at the finish line with a gigantic “Finish Festival,” where runners threw more colored powder into the air to create millions of vivid color combinations.
"This is a really fun run," said Jen Frey, of Monclova, who was participating in the event along with her husband and two kids. "It gets people involved who might not run otherwise."
Mrs. Frey was running with her husband Brian, daughter Katelyn, 8, and son Bradley, 5. Mrs. Frey and Katelyn had both participated in The Color Run in Columbus.
"The run goes by really fast," Mrs. Frey said. "I think the colors are a good distraction. You really aren't thinking as much about how far you have to go."
Many participants jazzed up their outfits with tutus and crazy socks.
Irene Montoya of Oregon and her friend Mary Ann Joy of Sylvania Township had on hand-made multi-colored tutus.
"It's stupid fun," said Ms. Joy. "But it really does make you so happy."