Don’t be startled if you at some point next month see a mass of men and women in skirts and sneakers bolting down Broadway with numbers on their chests. Wait a minute. They’re! Not! Skirts! as any properly pleated, plaid-donning Celt adamantly insists. They are kilts.
Sunday, March 16 will be the 26th annual Shamrock Run. This year, runners are encouraged to wear a kilt to turn up the heat on Canada and break the current world record for the largest kilt run established in Perth, Ontario, for 1,089 kilted runners. The Shamrock Run sees about 4,500 runners a year, so there’s a very good chance Perth’s record will fall.
The race is two-mile flat run starting at 12:50 p.m. at Academy Green, running along the parade route down Broadway to the finish line at the bottom of Broadway in the Rondout.
According to race coordinator John McGovern, the first male and female runner to make it to the Rondout Community Center after-party right after the race and drink a pint of beer will each win the “Keegan Cup,” which entitles each runner to one free, refreshing beer per day for a year, providing they drink it from the rather largish trophy cup. The after-party will include bagels from Sunrise Bagels and beer from Keegan Ales. All proceeds from this year’s race will benefit the IrishCulturalCenter of the HudsonValley, currently in development.
McGovern encouraged folks to buy kilts for the race to help make the world record, insisting they can be worn again in the Hooley on the Hudson in the fall. “Kilts are fun,” he said. McGovern said he has become a fan of the “sports kilt” with Velcro, which enables him to make a quick public change without needing to wrap a towel around him for a wee bit of privacy. “[Kilts are] comfortable and cool. We have 4,500 runners. We just need to get them into kilts for the run. Why should the Canadians have the world record?”
McGovern heads up the Ulster County Sheriff’s Civil Division and said many of the officers will be running in kilts this year.
“It’s more of a fun run, it’s not about people going ballistic down Broadway,” said McGovern, who has won the Keegan Cup twice.
According to Ancient Order of the Hibernians member and parade organizer Jim Carey, there are 111 organizations marching in this year’s parade. The parade, sponsored by the AOH, will be Grand Marshaled by AFOC Oil Company owner and veteran Larry Dunne.
Carey said Dunne was chosen from dozens of candidates for his community service. “You have to pick a person who did good things, went out of their way, and didn’t bitch and moan,” said Carey. “We choose [Dunne] because of his contributions to the Irish community.”
Carey said he’s already getting a lot of interest in this year’s run. “This year, it seems like everyone is in a frenzy and wants to run,” said Carey. “We are getting calls like crazy. It’s cabin fever and people are looking to run.”
To register for the Shamrock Run, visit shamrockrun.org. First 3,000 registrants get a free, long-sleeved green T-shirt. Schools with the largest amount of registrants get a trophy. There is a raffle drawn from all registered runners for two round-trip tickets to Ireland as well.