St. Patrick’s Day Adventures

By: Scott McMahon

As I was writing the recent Friday Five post regarding fun St. Patrick’s Day events, the urge to travel overcame me. With so many events in a few concentrated areas, I made the snap decision that a good chunk of my St. Patrick’s Day weekend would be devoted to attending races around the southeast Michigan area, either running or taking pictures of each event.

For this to make sense logistically, a couple of things had to fall in place. First and most importantly, the races wouldn’t be able to overlap. Luckily (hah), I found the Lucky Dash in Royal Oak, which had a start time of 10:45 a.m. on Saturday the 16th. With the biggest obstacle out of the way, my next task was finding a run somewhat close to Royal Oak that I could enter and still make the Lucky Dash in a timely manner to grab some pictures.

Timing conflicts eliminated two races within a fairly reasonable distance from Royal Oak, so I chose to head out to Port Huron for the Leprechaun Loop at 9 a.m. It was late enough in the morning that I could make the drive without getting up at 5 a.m., and still would allow me to get to Royal Oak in time to take pictures.

Then, the weather happened.

Rain hit the Ann Arbor area on Friday night, and conveniently froze before a layer of light snow fell overnight, leaving the roads in miserable condition at 6:45 a.m. when I left. I gave myself two hours to make the trip that Google Maps said would take 1 hour, 40 minutes. Not enough. The road conditions for the majority of the trip kept anyone from going anywhere near the speed limit on the highways. As a result, I rolled into the parking lot across from the Blue Water YMCA Area at 9 on the nose.

The race had not yet started, so I wasn’t too far behind. I ran inside to get my race bag, and in the rush I was in, neglected to put on my bib or attach the chip to my shoe. I got outside and realized I had none of that on, and went back inside to take care of it all. I went outside and began the race over 90 seconds after the official start, and after all the walkers had already made it past the starting line. Oh well, at least it was chip-timed.

The course itself ran along the St. Clair River, the boundary between the U.S. and Canada. Originally being from Missouri, I obviously never got to hang out so close to the nation’s border, so I thought staging a run within eyesight of Canada was pretty cool. Snow was still falling, and the route was filled with puddles and mushy snow, which made me regret my choice to not bring backup socks. The course ran through some of downtown Port Huron and back along the St. Clair River before ending in front of the YMCA. Plenty of people had finished before I got there, but even though I started late, I finished around 26:30, good for 79th in the field of 550+.

Leprechaun Loop

The home stretch of the Leprechaun Loop in Port Huron. Weather was less than ideal.

I went inside for some food, water, and to stretch down. I was unable to stay to even see my official time, let alone see if I had earned an award. I headed back to my car and began my hour-long trek to Royal Oak slightly after 10 a.m.

The roads were considerably better, so driving wasn’t much of a problem. I parked alongside the out-and-back course in downtown Royal Oak, and took the pictures I needed to take. My duties complete, I headed home for a few hours before heading back the same way, this time to the Cobo Center in Detroit to check out Detroit Bike City.

The scene in Royal Oak. My favorite costume by far.

The scene in Royal Oak. My favorite costume by far.

I completed my weekend of St. Paddy’s events the next morning when OA intern Brighid and I headed up to Plymouth for the ShamRock ‘n’ Roll Run. Unlike last year’s 80-degree mid-March weather, the 4,100 runners and countless more spectators had to brave high winds and wind chills lower than 15 degrees. We got the pictures we wanted and headed back.

ShamRock 'n' Roll Run

All in all, two weekends of five events total (Shamrocks & Shenanigans in Ann Arbor) turned out well. I may try to find some closer events in the future, though. Waking up at 6 and driving two hours for a 26 minute run probably isn’t a habit I should get myself into.

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