Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by Running!
Everyone loves St. Patrick’s Day. What’s not to love, right? Shamrocks, leprechauns, beer, and all things green! The Yuengling Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, Virginia may be just what you are looking for if you want a fun filled and flat race for the holiday! The Yuengling Shamrock Marathon is not just a race; it is an entire weekend of festivities, speaking events, meet-and-greets, and races of whatever length your heart desires.
About the Race:
The Yuengling Shamrock Marathon began in 1973 and is now a tradition for many of the runners to which I spoke. It is part of the Coastal Virginia Running Series and is sponsored by J&A Racing. J&A Racing is a management company owned by Jerry and Amy Frostick. They are based in Virginia Beach and have the motto of Live Love Run! They make it their mission to promote and support healthy lifestyles through running, from fun runs, all the way up to full marathons.
The course led runners through scenic Virginia Beach areas and along the beautiful oceanfront. The finish line was directly in front of a huge statue of Neptune, the Roman god of the Sea. At the finish line, we were greeted with a huge celebration, complete with Irish Stew, Yuengling Beer, and awesome bottlecap-opener finisher’s medals! Most races that offer beer at the finish line only give runners one, maybe two. This race allows each runner FOUR! There were four beer tabs on each of our bibs to be traded in. And, if you aren’t a beer drinker, you can transfer those tabs to another runner.
I’d like to note here that the Oceanfront Hilton Garden Inn was a fantastic choice for race weekend festivities. Upon arrival, they received us with warm cookies, water bottles, and a race weekend itinerary. Plus, race events and start/finish lines are all within walking distance. Also within walking distance is the fabulous Catch 21 restaurant. We, of course had Guinness because it was St. Patrick’s Day, but I also had a sweet potato gnocchi that was both delicious and race-prep worthy.
On Saturday, the main race is the 8k (4.97mi). For the kids, there is also a Final Mile for ages 5-12 and a Leprechaun Dash (26.2 yards) for under age 5. On Sunday, the half-marathon (13.1) and marathon (26.2) events take place. If you are feeling adventurous, you can complete the Whale Challenge, which is the 8k on Saturday and the marathon on Sunday. Or, you may choose the Dolphin Challenge, which is the 8k on Saturday followed by the half-marathon on Sunday.
This year, the 8k was won by Silas Frantz who ran it in 23:53. The top female was Ashley Nevol who finished in 28:46. There were 7,760 runners in this race, with 4753 females.
The half-marathon was won by Scott Mindel who finished in 1:10:21. The fastest female was Caroline Bauer and he finished in 1:19:55. There were 5,445 runners in this race, with 3,280 females.
Patrick Hearn won the full marathon with a time of 2:32:07. Jennifer Paul was the first female finisher with a time of 2:58:40. There were only 1,367 runners in this race, with 613 females.
This year’s expo was jam-packed full of cool gear but also meet-and-greets and interesting speakers. Runner’s could begin picking up their packets on Friday at noon at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Jen Yuengling was the first speaker in this year’s series. There was also Kristen Nagy, a registered dietician from Bon Secours in Motion, and Bart Yasso, Runner’s World Chief Running Officer. Then, my personal favorites this year, Shalane Flannigan and Elyse Kopecky. For those of you that may not know, Shalane is an Olympic Marathon runner for our country and Elyse is a runner/chef. Shalane and Elyse ran college track together and recently partnered to write Run Fast/Eat Slow, a nutritional guide to power runners. The expo allowed speakers to meet with all of the participants individually and then provided an opportunity for them to speak to everyone as a group. And, actually, this Sports and Fitness Expo is one of the largest on the east coast and is open to everyone! The best part is, it’s free!
I spoke to many runners this weekend about why they chose this race. One story that really stands out was told to me by a family running the 8k together. They were running to support the Cameron Gallagher Foundation. Cameron Gallagher was a 16 year old girl who ran this half marathon on March 16, 2014. With her family and friends looking on, she crossed the finish line….and within minutes, she collapsed. She took her final breaths right there due to a heart condition no one knew she had. It had been Cameron’s Dream to create a race that would raise awareness of teenage depression. Cameron had suffered with this for a long time and had begun to develop compensatory strategies to help her cope. She even had a name for it: SpeakUp5k. After she passed, her friends and family created a foundation in her name to help make sure her dream came true. Now, thousands of people run in her honor here every year.
So, next St. Patrick’s Day, don’t forget your orange and green shamrock hats, headbands, glasses, tutus, or other outrageous costumes and head to Virginia Beach for a race that is more like a party! A few days after the race, you will receive an email with a link to download some free pictures of you running, with the option to buy more. Then, they will send you a link to complete a survey. Once you do, you will get a coupon code for free shipping on shamrock gear.