BRUNSWICK, Maine — Traffic on Route 1 and in Cook’s Corner came to a standstill Saturday morning as thousands of runners and onlookers streamed onto the former Brunswick Naval Air Station to run in a 5k race.
The first wave of runners in the Color Me Rad race — in which onlookers spray cornstarch “color bombs” at participants — was scheduled to start at 9 a.m., but cars jammed nearby streets — including Route 1 — long before.
Jerrica Hall, one of several race directors, said Monday that organizers knew that more than 6,000 people were slated to attend the race and thought they had prepared adequately.
“We worked with [Brunswick] police and a parking company, but unfortunately as a first-year event, we just underestimated the manpower we would need,” she said.
Brunswick police Deputy Chief Marc Hagan said Monday that northbound traffic was backed up to the Route 196 on-ramp.
Some participants parked on the shoulder of Route 1 and walked to the event, according to various reports.
Although Color Me Rad hired two off-duty officers to help direct cars, the heavy traffic and single open lane into Brunswick Landing required all four on-duty officers to help clear congested intersections in the area, according to Hagan.
Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, said Monday that MRRA provides the venue, but organizers of the event are responsible for coordinating with local police for traffic management.
The for-profit Color Me Rad organization runs races throughout the country and donates a portion of each race’s proceeds to a local organization, according to Hall. The onsite registration fee Saturday was $55.
The Boothbay Region YMCA was designated to receive this year’s donation, but Hall said figures for how much the organization would receive were not yet available.
In an email to participants on Saturday evening, Color Me Rad organizers vowed to “do whatever it takes” to make up for “terrible” traffic, including a free entry in next year’s race.
Hall said the team has learned from this year’s experience.
“We know exactly what we’re doing with next year,” she said. “We’re going to go above and beyond and hire many, many people to help.”