Can you 'Catch the Leprechaun'?
Races and walks are often paired nicely with holidays. And St. Patrick's Day is among the best matches.
Locally, the St. Paddy's-themed Catch the Leprechaun race is in its seventh year, though only after being reincarnated and overhauled last year from the original race.
The concept for the race, which still includes an real life leprechaun (aka Eric Ruckel) who runners have to catch to get a prize, a "pot 'o' gold" awards for the top male and female finishers, and of course, beer, was developed by former business partners Irv Batten and Mike Aiken with the first race held in March 2003 in Mount Pleasant's Park West subdivision.
After Batten and Aiken parted ways at On the Run (Batten still owns and operates the running store) about four years later, Batten decided not to hold the race in 2009.
Larry Schrecker, then-president of the Charleston Running Club and a good friend of Batten's, thought the show must go on. With Batten's blessing, he decided to resurrect it with some major changes.
Namely, the race settled on a regular date, the Thursday evening before St. Patrick's Day (it's just a coincidence this year). Schrecker says that's because the race appeals to a younger crowd and is ideal for an early start to the weekend.
Also, the race is now held at a more central and scenic location, the Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park.
Schrecker and co-race director Mike McKenna, the new president of the running club, have added some layers of fun to the event, which encourages participants to wear Irish-themed outfits or at least green running attire.
Today's event, which starts at 6:30 p.m. at the park, includes a bagpiper to lead runners and walkers to the starting line and a post-race party with live music arranged by Awendaw Green.
This year's line-up includes Na Fidleiri, A Fragile Tomorrow with Danielle Howle and The Charles David Band.
As of Monday, 510 people had registered for the race (guys, it's a 2-to-1 females) and forecasts call for sunny, dry and warm conditions.
The cost to enter is $30. All proceeds from the race will help support Pattison's Academy for Comprehensive Education, a nonprofit, school for children with serious functional or mental disabilities.
Registration and packet pick-up will be 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. today at On The Run, 920-A9 Houston Northcutt Boulevard in Mount Pleasant, or 4-6 p.m. today at the park.
Find out more at www.catchtheleprechaun5k.com.
The green theme continues
While the Daniel Island 5K and Kids Fun Run seized on the St. Patrick's theme, the hue of the event always tended to be green.
For 13 years, the Bishop England High School, a Catholic high school with school colors of green and white, has used the race to raise money for its track and cross country programs.
This year's event will be at 9 a.m. Saturday. The cost is $25-$30. Fun races for children will be held at the conclusion of the 5K.
Free Sunday at county parks
The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission will offer free admission and parking at eight parks as part of its annual Customer Appreciation Day on Sunday.
The parks include Ravenel Caw Caw Interpretive Center, North Charleston Wannamaker, Mount Pleasant Palmetto Islands and James Island County Parks, Kiawah Beachwalker Park, Folly Beach and Isle of Palms County Parks, as well as the Folly Beach Edwin S. Taylor Fishing Pier, where fishing is also free for the day.
The Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park Pier will offer complimentary fishing Sunday, but parking fees still apply.
The commission will offer free activities between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday at each park, including educational strolls at beach parks, a dog clinic at Isle of Palms County Park, a high ropes course or a paddling sampler course at James Island County Park
Check www.ccprc.com for details.