BY BILL CHAFEY
MODESTO, CA – Minutes after finishing the Red, White and You 4th of July 5k Color Run, area runner and sufferer of congenital color blindness Fulk Fairclough declared the race a “stunning disappointment” and a case of “the race director having no clothes.”
“What is this stuff all over me?” Fairclough questioned, referring to the bright, cornstarch-based powdered dye thrown at runners during the race. “On my arm here – is this supposed to be blue or purple? I have no idea!”
Diagnosed with color blindness in kindergarten after miserably failing the Ishihara color test, Fairclough beat the odds and graduated with a 3.2 GPA from Joseph Gregori High School. He later built on that success at Modesto Junior College, earning an AS in Accounting and running with the school’s cross country team, all despite an inability to reliably distinguish green from red.
Fairclough signed up for the 5k, billed “The Most Joyful Patriotic Run in the World,” with high expectations.
“I thought this race was going to be about a finding a cure for color blindness,” he said after crossing the finish line caked in a heavy dusting of several different hues, few of which he could tell apart. “Instead, not a quarter mile after starting, people on the sidelines start pelting everyone with these dust-filled projectiles. Color me mad!”
Calling it “a dark day for both the clinically diagnosed color blind and those who identify as color blind,” Fairclough vowed to never again participate in any “Color” run unless it was organized specifically for the advancement of the color blind population.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Fairclough said. “Imagine you’ve been wearing your favorite pair of brown corduroys for months, and then someone points out, ‘Hey, nice green cords’,” he explained. “Add those apparently casual observations up over time and they can really affect a person.”
The event was not a total wash for Fairclough, however. His 19:01 finish earned him 3rd place in his age group, good for a Bronze medal.
“The joke’s on them, though,” Fairclough smirked after accepting the prize. “This medal is gold, not bronze.”