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Dash, What Dash? First Kirkland Shamrock Run Set for St. Patrick's Day

The Kirkland Downtown Association is creating a 5-kilomter fun run for the Eastside on March 17 -- the same day as Seattle's hugely popular St. Patrick's Day Dash.

What sponsors hope will become an Eastside tradition, the new Kirkland Shamrock Run, has been scheduled for St. Patrick’s Day, March 17 -- and they’re hoping not to trip up or trip on another popular Seattle-area run.

The Shamrock, a 5-kilometer walk/run that weaves through the heart of Kirkland and surrounding neighborhoods, is being created by the Kirkland Downtown Association (KDA) simply as a festive event to liven up the city during the usually slow late-winter/early-spring period.

But it is presenting something of dilemma for longtime local runners because, for this year at least, it falls on the same day as the huge Seattle tradition known as the St. Patrick’s Day Dash. The Dash benefits and is owned by the Detlef Schrempf Foundation, is in its 27th running this year and attracts up to 15,000 participants. It is considered the Seattle area’s largest single run/walk event.

Ben Wobker, owner of Kirkland’s Lake Washington Physical Therapy and the KDA’s Shamrock Run committee chairman, thinks there is room for both. The idea came up during a meeting of friends and fellow downtown business owners at Kirkland’s .

“We had all done St. Paddy’s over the year and thought it would sure be fun to have an event here,” he said Tuesday. “It’s kind of an empty time (for civic events) downtown, between the and the beginning of the and summer events. It wasn’t meant to compete with the St. Paddy's Day Dash, just offer an Eastside option.”

Serendipitous circumstances made it a lucky year to give the Shamrock a go. St. Patrick’s Day this year falls on a Saturday. The Dash over the last few years has become huge, some say too big. And finally, on the State Route 520 Bridge, the most direct route for Kirkland residents to get to the Dash starting line at the Seattle Center.

“It made sense this year, with the moons aligning and St. Paddy’s Day on Saturday, and now with the tolls,” Wobker said. “What were trying to do is capture runners that would have stayed home.”

Although Wobker said he has heard of some concern by Dash organizers about the new run, none was expressed by Nicole Morrison, executive director of the non-profit Schrempf Foundation.

“They’ve got a smaller run, in a market we tap as well,” she said. “But we encourage competition and they have just as much right to stage a run as we do. I totally applaud what they’re doing and hope they’re successful.”

But the tandem runs do mean that some Eastside runners -- including the editor of Kirkland Patch, who has run the Dash for 18 straight years -- must decide where their loyalties lie.

“We hope people loyal to the Dash will stick with us,” Morrison said with a laugh. “That’s a quandary a lot of people will have to deal with.”

The Dash traditionally is staged on the closest Sunday to St. Patrick’s Day, except on years when St. Patrick's Day falls on a Saturday. So Morrison said perhaps most years the Shamrock Run will be on a Saturday and the Dash on a Sunday. And Wobker said the plan is to keep the Shamrock Run on Saturdays.

At any rate, so far 24 sponsors have signed on to the Shamrock Run and 175 participants have registered. Wobker is hoping for at least 500 runners and, if weather is fair, perhaps 1,000. The race will be staged in three waves, with junior and adult runners the first off at 8 a.m. A special category of runners with dogs will start at 8:05 and finally at 8:10, runners with strollers and those walking the event will set off.

The 5-kilometer course -- 3.1 miles -- begins and ends at downtown (see the map attached to this story). “We really wanted this to be downtown-centric," Wobker said. “We really want to involve the downtown businesses and neighborhoods.”

Runners are encouraged to wear appropriate costumes, and sponsors hope friends, family and neighbors will line the course to cheer runners on.

All proceeds benefit the Kirkland Downtown Association, which is affiliated with the non-profit and sponsors civic activities such as downtown cleanups and seasonal decorations.

The registration fee is $35, and all participants who sign up before Feb. 1 will get a long-sleeved, synthetic running shirt (see photo) -- actually a breathable Brooks brand Podium model with a silk-screened Shamrock Run logo. Those signing up after Feb. 1 will get a cotton shirt with the logo.

The Wilde Rover, which traditionally has a packed St. Paddy’s Day celebration, will host the after-run party, with participants gaining no-cover and preferential entry.

To register on line, go to the run web site here. You can also register at the store on 98th in Juanita or the Chamber of Commerce office on Kirkland Avenue downtown.

Ben Wobker January 24, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Thanks Greg. I hope to enjoy a Guinness with you at the finish line.
Greg Johnston January 25, 2012 at 12:13 AM
It's going to be a great event Ben -- keeping my fingers crossed for fair weather!

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