St. Patrick’s Day has traditionally been the official start of running for Midwest athletes. Races are sparse through the cold, icy months of January and February. But come mid-March, when we regularly see 30–40-degree mornings, we also see the return of races.
So, where will you be racing this weekend? Here are three of our favorites:
This is a fan-favorite as racers enjoy a ton of free parking in the Deer Park shopping mall and run on the suburban streets through the commercial and business districts of this adorable town. This year, All Community Events has added a half marathon distance so runners can select a 5K, 10K, or half to tackle over the holiday weekend. This race company does an excellent job with pre-race communication, race day organization, and fun. One of my favorite parts of this race is the festive pint glass that all runners receive at the finish line.
Sunday, March 20th
For the first time that I can remember, two classics are being held on the same day. The Shamrock Shuffle and Cary March Madness Half Marathon are both being held on Sunday morning. Historically, the Shamrock Shuffle has taken place later in the month of March or even early April.
The Shamrock Shuffle is a Chicago classic. Thousands of runners come out every year to partake in this running event which features an 8K, 2 mile, and 1 mile walk. The day’s festivities bring out elite runners and the infamous “Green Guys”, who paint themselves head to toe and run in very little clothing, despite the usual chilly temps. Packet pickup and the races are held at Grant Park and runners tackle the streets of Chicago, many showing off the best St. Patrick’s Day decor they can find.
The Hillstriders Running Club hosts this event on the Sunday of St. Patrick’s Day every year and draws runners from all across the country. Registration opens on New Year’s Eve and normally sells out within a day or two. The half marathon course is one of the most challenging courses in the area, with hills scattered throughout the entire 13.1. The hills are not your normal midwest hills either, they are lung busting, leg burning, hills that don’t allow much time for recovery between. This race starts and ends at Cary Grove High School and always attracts incredibly fast runners.
Whether you are chasing a rainbow or running from a leprechaun, Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you and welcome to spring running!