Catch the Leprechaun 5K Recap (22:27)

My Catch the Leprechaun 5K recap starts long before I toed the line.

Back in the day (okay, October 2009), I ran a small 5K race in Florence called the Camp RAE 5K, to benefit special needs children attending a camp at Pattison’s Academy in Charleston, SC.

At the time, I was more of a Zumba girly, but I thought it was a great cause, so I signed up. Like a true beginner with zero running friends, I didn’t write down my finish time, threw my bib away, and wore a cotton t-shirt and soccer shorts.


I ran the Camp RAE 5K again in 2010 and 2011, and while the race is no longer around, Facebook kept me up to date on Pattison’s Academy and the inaugural (and future) Camp RAE.

In 2013, I attended the Catch the Leprechaun 5K race as a spectator, where I cheered on the Couch to 5K runners who my friend and TrySports Teammate, Noah Moore, coaches. Cheerleading at a race rocks; it’s all the fun without getting sweaty, and everyone should try it- but I knew I had to run it in 2014.


From October 2009 to March 2014 and over 100 miles away, I’m happy my running has come full circle to once again support Pattison’s Academy and the special needs students there.

Catch the Leprechaun is one of the largest 5Ks in Mt Pleasant with a neat twist- a leprechaun runs the course with the runners and encourages them, teases them, etc. Everyone who finishes ahead of the leprechaun receives a prize (a green plastic beer mug for the post-race party). This year, the leprechaun finished the Patriot’s Point area course in around 28 minutes- so not just anyone catches him.

Receiving a prize for catching the leprechaun is a neat way to motivate and reward mid-packers who put in the training miles and work hard. While it’s not a finisher’s award, running a 28 minute 5K isn’t easy- and the prize gives people a little motivation for goal setting. Since the race is so large, most of us (including myself) are not in the running for awards. The same guys with single digit body fat and skinny girls with long legs win every year…. BUT it’s nice to not walk away empty handed because you caught the leprechaun!


The race started at 6:30, and I *never* know what to do for evening races. I’ve run 2 evening races- the i5K and Race the Landing. I’m always at a loss of what to eat and do that day. I ate a salad for lunch, which was healthy and delicious. I figured if my time wasn’t great, at least I could blame my lack of a pre-race pop tart. The healthy living police can close their browsers now…

I showed up at the race early, picked up my packet (hooray for a nice tech shirt that actually fits!) and saw my friend Steve and his wife Susie who helped with packet pick up. Steve has a stress fracture and can’t run right now, but he is a beast, running sub-22 5Ks and a 1:44 half marathon. I’m wishing him a speedy recovery so we can get back to garage running, but until then, he is a rockstar spectator and race volunteer!


I did my warmup mile and some of my warmup exercises, then headed over to the field to warm up with the Moore On Running crew. I joined their team this year, and (spoiler) we won for the biggest team. We warmed up together, took a group picture, and wished each other good luck in the race. Everyone is so inspired by Noah, Jen, Peyton, and their family’s journey (you can read about it here). This race was where I met Peyton last year, so that always makes this course special.


Pre-race photo courtesy of Moore On Running’s Facebook page

I headed to the start and tried to stay warm with all the people. I stashed my pink hoodie behind a tree and we took off. The beginning was really crowded and lots of passing and even some elbowing went on until we all got into a groove (probably about 400 meters in). The course is basically a circle loop, out and back, and it’s flat like everything else in Mt. Pleasant aside from the Cooper River Bridge.

Since the race benefits Pattison’s Academy, some of the runners push the special needs children in wheelchairs along the course, which is fun and inspiring. One of them was super close to me for the last half mile, and it was neat to look over and see the special needs children you’re running for, so they can go to camp. It gives you the little push you need to counteract those headwinds- and it’s always windy at Patriot’s Point.


With a 10K race coming up 37 hours later, I wasn’t going “PR or ER”, but I wouldn’t have complained if I did PR. I finished 6 seconds behind my PR, at 22:27. It was so hard though! With almost 1,000 runners, you never got to see everyone or know who was ahead of or behind you. Virginia was about 32 seconds behind me and never saw me the entire race (craziness).

After the race, I cooled down a bit, and found my hoodie. Note to self: the start and finish aren’t at the same location, so I had to walk around and look in various trees to find it.

I bundled up in sweats and multiple hoodies and headed to the post-race party. I had a banana and a cookie for refreshments- they had hot dogs and corned beef sandwiches (I guess this is an Irish/St Pat’s thing), but not eating meat, I stuck to the sandwich cookies and fruit. They had free flowing post-race beer too. It wasn’t green but that doesn’t stop thirsty runners. A band called Awendaw Green played, and you could play cornhole and just hang out.




My friends Andy and Virginia won medals, which had a bottle opener on them. They were 2nd and 3rd in their age groups. Virginia broke 23 (finished in 22:59) for an awesome post-Stella, stroller-less PR. Another one of my friends downed 3 hot dogs at the party… he deserves an award for that one!

Catch the Leprechaun was a really fun race, and the organizer, Mike, did an outstanding job. Mike is also a Charleston area runner, and the best races to run are usually those organized by other runners, so it wasn’t a surprise that this year’s was the biggest and best yet.


This is a great race for first-timers, those looking to improve and “catch the leprechaun”, and the really fast people who race to win. If you registered early, you get a great deal on it (It was like $18 for those of us who signed up in December), and the tech shirts this year are awesome. The proceeds go toward a great cause at Pattison’s Academy, and you really can’t beat an evening race to kick off the St. Patrick’s Day weekend early!


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23 Responses to Catch the Leprechaun 5K Recap (22:27)

  1. Rachel says:

    oooh I love night races – especially with an after party! Great finish time too!

    There is a local 5k where if you ‘catch the wolf’ you get a special prize. Uhhh the wolf finishes in under 20 minutes every year! So not fair! I think only a few people actually beat him!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Oh wow, that’s really fast. Not many people would catch him here either. I kinda like the leprechaun’s pace and how he runs around the course talking to people. He is a really sweet guy.

  2. ahellams says:

    I can’t wait to do this next year. And you know the crazy thing, I have run with almost everyone in all of your pictures. How we have not crossed paths yet is mind boggling!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Hurry back to Charleston so you can run with us on Sunday morning and then go to Moe’s :).

      And yeah I don’t know how we haven’t crossed paths except I looked at your races and we always seemed to be at the opposite ones when you were here- weirdness!

  3. Sounds like a really fun one, I thought about it, but am not quite up to racing yet.

  4. tabethawells says:

    That looks like a totally fun race! I love the idea of ‘catching’ something other than a cold!

  5. runswithpugs says:

    So fun! I hate night races. I still run them from time to time, but it’s so hard to eat right and go into it strong.

    Congratulations on a great run!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks girly. I plan to register for a summer series here, which is 5 evening races… so hopefully by the end of the summer I will know what I’m doing (or either my thoughts that I’m crazy and have zero idea of what I’m doing will be fully solidified…)

  6. harveylisam says:

    What a fun race idea, with the leprechaun and all that! Very cute, and definitely good motivation. 🙂

    It’s not very often I run a race with numbers close to 1000 runners, but I do find that running big races makes the event that much more enjoyable (as long as there’s enough room so you’re not stuck behind people).

    Sounds like it was a great time, and congrats on the awesome time! PR or not, you still rocked it 🙂

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I was stuck behind a few at the very beginning, but it evened out really quickly. With the course design (out and back, but the back was down a different road), you didn’t really get stuck with people going in the same direction on a small path or anything either.

  7. Oh my goodness! This looks like so much fun!! I would love to run something like this!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks! Yeah it was. I found out his time one year was like a 25 minute 5K. I’m kinda glad they had more mugs so he could slow down a little bit.

      • Oh wow! That would have been tough for me to catch him if it was a 25 minute 5K! They need to find a little bit slower guy. haha I love the inspiration that gives to people though to push harder!

      • Amy Lauren says:

        Nah, he’s a fast guy but doesn’t race competitively down here. He just does this… leprechaun-ing. He ran a 28 minute 5K this year.

        I do agree a 25 minute 5K is pretty fast for a recreational fun race like this one. 28 minutes is more like a 9 minute mile, much better pace for the leprechaun :). Always good for more runners to receive something like the mug!

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Congrats! This catch the leprachon (can’t spell) thing is such a great way to motivate people who aren’t in “the running” for AG awards but who certainly can train to be faster. Looks like you had a lot of fun.

  9. Pam says:

    What a fun race! I love the theme and all the cute green accessories on some of the runners too. Running for a cause is the best kind of race to run…..hopefully they made some money to help alot of special needs children go to camp this summer. PS I love that you eat Poptarts too. Some bloggers are just way too healthy for me!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Pam! I am sure they raised a lot of money with the event, Pattison’s Academy is a great cause and located right here in West Ashley.

      I love some pre-race pop tarts! Is it a good breakfast before school or work? Probably not. But it works for me if I’m racing or going to run 8-10 miles. I eat healthy probably 80% of the time so the occasional pop tart won’t hurt! I actually heard of this fueling concept from the Wando XC guys and they’re some of the fastest in the state, so they must be doing something right!

  10. Looks like so much fun! I love running the st pats day race. Hopefully next year 🙂

  11. LilMysNinja says:

    I’m so glad to see that I wasn’t the only one that started out running in soccer shorts! Umbros to be exact.
    While I may be jealous if I’m not running a race, cheerleading is definitely fun and I do enjoy it too.

    This is a really cool race! I wish I could run it. What a fun idea with the leprechaun! And I love that they have bottle opener medals too!

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