On your mark, set, get messy.

Expect to see a a roving rainbow of fun seekers Aug. 17 in Savannah's west Historic District neighborhoods when an anticipated 2,000 people take part in The Color Run 5K.

White-shirt-wearing participants in the 3.2-mile non-timed fun run leave Forsyth Park's west side at 8 a.m., make their way downtown via Montgomery and Barnard streets, where they'll take Congress Street east, make a roundabout connection with Bull Street and head back to Forsyth Park.

Their white shirts - and the rest of them - won't be a solid color for long.

IF YOU GO

What: The Color Run 5K

When: The run begins at 8 a.m. Aug. 17. Officials will be setting up the course from 4-7 a.m. A white shirt at the starting line is mandatory.

Where: The race begins and ends at Forsyth Park, and will include portions of Whitaker, West Waldburg, Montgomery, Barnard, Congress, Lincoln, East State and Bull streets.

Cost: Single person, $45; teams of four or more, $40. Register at Fleet Feet Sports, 3405 Waters Ave., on Aug. 16, at the race site before it begins Aug. 17, or at www.thecolorrun.com.

Info: Go to www.thecolorrun.com and select Savannah.

VOLUNTEER

The Color Run could use volunteers to throw color, hand out water and help maintain the fun. Event officials have teamed up with Horizons Savannah, which provides summer enrichment programs for low-income children, as The Color Run's local charity partner. Horizons gets a donation for every volunteer affiliated with the group. Go to http://tinyurl.com/krotpkn to sign up as a volunteer for the event and help Savannah Horizons reach its goal of 100 volunteers.

On the route, runners and walkers will be getting pelted with colored cornstarch.

Then, back in the park at the finish line, everyone who participated gathers by the stage and tosses packets of color into the air. Think yellow, orange, pink and blue raining down on a cheering crowd.

"It's a big color festival," said race director Carrie Meng. "There's just color flying through the air."

Once the multi-colored dust settles, it comes off pretty easily.

"One shower," Meng said. "It comes off with soap and water. It takes a little scrubbing."

Savannah's streets, too, will be back to normal before the day's done.

"That's a huge emphasis of ours," Meng said. "You won't be able to tell we've been there. We leave no trace. We don't leave until everyone is satisfied with the cleanup."

The 5K is meant to be fun, and Meng said it's not a race to the finish line. Race officials don't take times, and the average participant takes about 30-40 minutes to complete the course.

There are, after all, lots of opportunities to stop and get pictures taken along the way.

"There are no awards for first or second," Meng said. "It's just celebrating being out there and doing something healthy for yourself and being with other people in the community."

The Color Run started putting on events in 2011, and did its first full year of runs in 2012. Races have been held around the world. When it came time to expand to smaller cities, Meng said Savannah was a natural fit.

"Being the Hostess City that it's known for, it was kind of a no-brainer for our second-year cities," Meng said. "It's one of our prettiest courses ... being able to run downtown and through the tree-covered streets and through the squares and through such an active area and an entertainment area."

The run isn't just meant to be fun for the participants. A goal is to get the community involved.

"Along the course, you'll have residents and business owners coming out to watch, because it's a spectacle," Meng said.

Watching the event might just inspire onlookers to participate next time around.

Meng said about 60 percent of The Color Run's participants are embarking on their first 5K - something she attributed to the lack of pressure.

"They realize, 'Hey, I can do this, and it looks like a ton of fun,' and they come back next year and participate," Meng said. "It happens all the time."

THE COURSE MAPClick on the map for more information about start and finish lines