By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Over the past 12 years, the cold temperatures and snow on the ground have not stopped thousands of people from participating in the annual Shamrock Run and Walk.
This weekend, a crowd of participants are expected to return again for the event, which has become an annual tradition for local families and individuals alike, said Patrick Collins, the race director.
The 13th Annual Shamrock Run – Road Races and Fun Walk will take place this Saturday at Chippens Hill Middle School.
Over the years, the race has grown in the number of participants and level of commitment from sponsors. The event has over 10 sponsors, including Bristol Hospital, which has served as a host sponsor for the past three years.
To date, over 700 runners and walkers have registered, and another thousand are expected leading up the event, which features traditional Irish music on the courses for entertainment. Each year, participants run or walk the course decked out in St. Patrick’s Day attire and green shirts.
“The event has become popular citywide and throughout the area,” said Collins, adding how he has seen families make the race an annual tradition year after year. “It’s a very family-friendly environment.”
Collins added every year participants seem enthusiastic for the race even if snow continues to linger on the ground. He said the race is one of the first in the state that occurs in the very beginning of spring.
“It’s a festive environment we have here,” said Collins. “People just want to get out.”
But the event has served more than just as an annual Irish-themed tradition. Since its inception, the Shamrock Run has benefitted local charities, including the St. Vincent DePaul Mission, a nonprofit organization that provides food, shelter, counseling and referring services for men and women in the community. Over the last 12 years, the event has generated over $140,000 to be donated to St. Vincent DePaul Mission.
This year, Collins said the event committee hopes to generate at least $14,000 for the non-profit.
“It works very hard to take care of the less fortunate,” said Collins. “We’re proud of the work they do.”
The event also will again benefit The Cove, a non-profit organization for children and families who are grieving. In addition, the Shamrock Run has partnered again with Soles4Souls, a nonprofit organization that collects shows from warehouses of footwear companies and people. Participants are recommended to donate gently used footwear.
Since that partnership, the event has been able to donate thousands of pairs of shoes, said Collins.
Last year, Bristol CERT (Bristol Community Emergency Response Team) served as the event’s honorary chair group for its contribution to the local community and its assistance in facilitating safety during the Shamrock Run. This year, the event committee chose Jason “Coachie’ DeCarolis as the honorary chairman. A lifelong resident and sports fan who attended Bristol Central High School, DeCarolis has volunteered for coaching staff in the district and countless athletic events for years. He also has received many awards over the years, including the John Wentworth Good Sports award from the Connecticut Sports Writers Alliance.
Collins said DeCarolis “epitomizes spirit and leadership.”
The Shamrock Run and Walk takes place this Saturday at Chippens Hill Middle School, and includes a five- and two-mile race, a two-mile fitness walk, and a Kids Fun Run. Registration is available online until the day of the race. Registration in person will begin at 8 a.m. Registration is $25 for the two and five-mile run and for the two-mile walk. The registration fee for the Kids Fun Run is $5.
Before the day of the race, on Friday, March 20, a pasta dinner will take place at St. Gregory’s CCD Center, 1043 Stafford Ave. from 4:30 to 7 p.m., catered by Emily’s Catering Group. Tickets are sold at the door and at $8 per adult; $6 for children ages 6 to 12; and children under 5 years old are free. Packet pick-up and registration can occur during this time.
For more information, visit www.ctshamrockrun.com.