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