For many revelers in the Charleston area, St. Patrick’s Day — err, weekend ... err, week — is a great opportunity to raise a few pints, dress in green and act goofy.
And in the last few years, the time to start is the Thursday before March 17 with the Catch the Leprechaun 5K run and walk at Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park.
Tonight, the park will get even greener as hundreds, perhaps even a thousand if the weather behaves, gather for the race, which starts at 6:30 p.m. and includes post-race food, beer and music.
Since the race was reincarnated in 2010 from one held in Park West, it has grown from 319 finishers to 693 in 2011 and 880 in 2012.
Co-race director Mike McKenna said the growing popularity of the race is due to a few aspects.
“In a nutshell, it’s a fun race that supports a great cause (Pattison’s Academy, a school for children with disabilities). There’s an endless sea of 5Ks, and we tried to give the runners something they won’t get at other races. It’s a night race which features a bagpiper, prizes for people who finish before the leprechaun, pots of gold for the winners and a post-race party,” he said.
“It’s different, and I think people appreciate it.”
Not to rest on his laurels, McKenna noted several changes to this year’s race, including a costume contest, trolley providing shuttle service from Dunleavy’s Pub and the Hampton Inn & Suites Charleston/Mount Pleasant-Isle of Palms, and discounts at Egan’s Spirits during its grand opening Saturday and Sunday.
Because Thursday is race day, the fee to enter is $40.
Meanwhile, organizers of one of the oldest races in the Charleston area, Summerville’s Flowertown Festival Run, has changed its name after 34 years to something Irish: the Shamrock Shuffle.
Summerville Family YMCA CEO Gary Lukridge said the change came after the YMCA sought to separate the identities of the run and the Flowertown Festival. The run, after all, is held a few weeks before the festival.
“This way, the Shamrock Shuffle can stand out on its own merit and show how great an event we have assembled. The course, distances, local, etc., has not changed, and as always, it’s a great warm-up for the Bridge Run,” Lukridge said.
Race director Jan Parsons said many people, so far, have responded positively to the name change.
“We are used to seeing people dressing up in St. Paddy’s Day attire as the run falls close to the holiday, which furthered our reasoning on changing it up a bit. We hope to see a greater attendance since we have invited a Bring on Your Green costume contest and many other festive activities.”
The Shamrock Shuffle kicks off with the 5K starting at 7:50 a.m. Saturday. The fee for the 10K or 5K is $30.
Shamrock SUP Race
Yet another St. Paddy’s-themed event is the second annual Shamrock SUP Race.
The paddleboard contest features numerous races and start times: Elite at 9 a.m., recreational at 9:05 a.m., kids race at 11 a.m. and the dog race at 11:15 a.m.
Prizes will be awarded for the top finisher in each category, and those wearing green in the spirit of St. Paddy’s Day will have the chance to win prizes.
Pre-registration runs 8-8:45 a.m. Saturday at Charleston SUP Safaris, 83 Center St. on Folly Beach. Registration costs are $35 for elite or recreational races and $20 for kids or dog races. Paddleboard rentals will be available for $10.
Proceeds from the event will benefit Pet Helpers and the Emerson Rose Heart Foundation.
Not over yet
Another race often held near St. Patrick’s Day has a green theme, but isn’t directly related to the holiday.
The Daniel Island 5K is a fundraiser for Bishop England High School’s running programs (BE’s team colors are green and white).
The 14th annual 5K will start at 9 a.m. Saturday next to the school. The fee is $25.
Sweet Grass Walk/Run
The inaugural Sweet Grass Walk/Run will be at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at Patriot’s Point in Mount Pleasant and will be followed by a bluegrass music festival.
The cost is $30 for the run or $40 for the run and festival.
Find out more at sweetgrassmusicfestival.com.
If you’re not a runner and all these make you want to climb a wall, there’s an event for you, too.
The 16th annual Palmetto Pump & USA Climbing Competition, the largest outdoor climbing competition in the Southeast, will be Saturday at James Island County Park.
Each year, the competition attracts climbers from throughout the region, all scaling the park’s 50-foot tall climbing wall that features more than 4,500 square feet of climbing space.
The nationally sanctioned event is designed for climbers of all ages and abilities, and no competition experience is necessary. Registration is 8-9 a.m.; the competition will take place 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Competitor registration is $45.
Not a climber but interested in watching? The competition is free for spectators with the general $1 park admission fee. Come witness this show of strength, balance and endurance from some of the best climbers in the region.
Reach David Quick at 937-5516.
The mischievous leprechaun, Eric Ruckel, of the Catch the Leprechaun race.×
Participants run in the Catch the Leprechaun 5K in Mount Pleasant.×
The Catch the Leprechaun’s official leprechaun (Eric Ruckel) pushes Pattison’s Academy student Will Schrecker during a previous event. The race raises money for Pattison’s, a school for children with multiple disabilities.×
Catch the Leprechaun race directors Larry Schrecker (left) and Mark McKenna (right) with the leprechaun, Eric Ruckel, at a previous race.×